Fun with Major Triads

Fun with Major Triads

Major triads are fun to play around with. They have been used in many songs for example “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne or “Under Pressure” by Queen.

A triad contains just three notes – the tonic (Root), the major third and the fifth. (See diagram below)

  • To build a C major triad you would use the First note (C), Third note (E) and the Fifth note (G) of the C major scale.

The advantage of these small chords is that they are easy to move around the guitar neck, while still sounding clean and bright. Thus they lend themselves to melodic lines as well as being used for rhythm riffs.

Major Triads Diagram


The first triad (from the left) is the ‘E’ Shape, the second (middle) one is  the ‘D’ Shape and the third triad is the ‘A’ shape.

These are the main major triads on the lightest 3 strings. Remmeber that triads can be played on any of the string sets.


One fun thing to do with these top 3 string triads is to play them against a static D drone, that is play the open D string along with the triad.

Example songs:

‘Under Pressure’ (Queen): D (A shape) – A (E shape) – G (E shape) – A (E Shape)  (Bass riff uses the D and A notes)

‘Substitute’ (The Who): Opening Riff: D (A shape) – D (D shape) – A (E Shape) – G (E shape)  – D (D shape)


Play around with these shapes and see what you can come up with.

Also see my post on the minor triad shapes here

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