Major Triad Inversions


In this lesson we learn how to take closed position major triad shapes and systematically invert them through all inversions all over the neck.

This will be quite a large accomplishment once you have mastered this method.

Many guitarist’s don’t realize that some major players use triads almost exclusively in their improvisations.

Once you get a good handle on these I will show you how to get virtually any chord or arpeggio sound imaginable using just these four triad types.

Here is the accompanying PDF

Major Triad Inversions PDF

Have fun with this and I will see you tomorrow with the minor triads!!

Major Triad Inversions

26 Comments

  1. Kyle Ford says:

    Thanks for this lesson. I was always intimidated by triads and inversions, but no longer. Very simple really. These are the perfect thing to practice with the caged system of chords and major triad arpeggios: they really are all the same thing/notes, but just looking at them in a different way that helps build knowledge of the fretboard. Great lesson!

  2. Harli Saxon says:

    Dude, you make lessons on hard stuff extremely easy to play.
    Guitarlessons365 is the by far the best website for guitar lessons.
    All that stuff that other websites make you subscribe and pay to get, you do it for free, and you teach it better anyway.

    • Carl Brown says:

      Hey thanks a lot Harli, I really appreciate you taking the time to check out my site!

      Hopefully you will enjoy the lessons I will be putting up every week in this upcoming year. Let me know if you have any requests!!

      Happy Holidays!! Carl..

  3. Bod says:

    Tack! Måste säga att även en svensk har lätt för att förstå era gitarrlektioner.

  4. Ted tamayo says:

    Wow thanks Carl! I’ve been trying to figure out inversions on my own for months, and now in one practice session I know them all! Great lesson!

  5. krishna says:

    a good teacher is someone with heart…u got alot of heart..u r one good teacher! thanks krishna

  6. Nataniel says:

    Hey Carl, I’ve discovered this website recently, and I got to say, what you do here is just incredible! You’re giving random people so much time ( I mean by doing all these videos and tutorials), for NO money, wow! And there’s something for everybody, from the total beginner to the almost confirmed guitarist. That’s beautiful, let’s say it!

    And the quality’s here. I’ve been taught many things you teach here by my teacher back in the time I took classes (Christophe Godin, if you know him or his name at least), and I can say it’s no bullshit, I know I can rely on this site…

    All that’s left to say is thanks a lot!
    Greetings from Geneva, Switzerland

    ;-)

  7. hugo says:

    Hi Carl, thanks for this lesson and all others :).
    I have a question, the notes in the 3 chords are:
    A, C#, E
    C#, E, A
    E, C#, A

    But what happens if I change the order? I mean like this: C#, A, E
    what chord is that?

    • Carl Brown says:

      Hey Hugo, it would still be considered an A major triad in first inversion. However, it will no longer be a closed voicing (meaning that all the notes in the triad are within one octave.)

      It would now be considered an open voiced triad. :)

      Carl…

  8. Henry says:

    Hey Carl, what a nice lesson, did you ever made the spelling triad vid?

  9. Billy says:

    So when you do triad inversions they stay within their original key signature correct?

  10. Billy says:

    So even if you’re in Cmaj where their are no sharps, flats the positions always stay the same for majors? Is this the same for minors as well. I’m just a little confused because if you play a Amaj triad in in Cmaj it would be ACE, but if you play it in the key of Amaj the triad would be AC#E so wouldn’t the shapes change?

    • Carl Brown says:

      Hey Billy, not sure I completely understand your question. I think you should go back to the theory section and re-read the “understanding keys” lesson, then the “creating major key chord progressions” lesson followed by the “creating minor key chord progressions” lesson.

      After that you can try your hand at the spelling all triads lesson and then I think you will have no more confusion.

      Oh, and there is no A major triad in the key of C Major. It would be an A minor triad and would be the vi chord in the key. :)

      Carl…

  11. Billy says:

    Sorry my mistake. I know that for a minor triad it would be 1 3b 5. So, in the key of Cmaj wouldn’t the Aminor triad be ABE? Wouldn’t that change the shape of what a minor triad would look like if you kept the A in the base on the fifth fret? Or would you use a different inversion to compensate for the arbitrary shape you would use?

    • Carl Brown says:

      Hey Billy, A minor is actually spelled A C E. I think the whole triad formula thing is getting you confused.

      Look at it this way. Most music theory formulas are based around major scales.

      So say for the key of A major the scale would be A B C# D E F# G#

      Now for the triad formulas. Major= 1 3 5 Minor= 1 b3 5 Diminished= 1 b3 b5 Augmented= 1 3 #5

      The unaltered 1 3 5 major triad formula comes from a major scale because the major scale is considered unaltered and simply counted 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

      Now the A major triad is taken from the 1`3 5 of the A major scale above giving us A C# E.

      All the other triad formulas are just alterations of the major triad formula.

      For instance the minor 1 b3 5 would require us to lower the C# of the major triad down to a C natural in order to make it a minor triad. A C E

      Same for diminished and augmented, A diminished= A C Eb and A Augmented= A C# E#

      By the way, that E# is the correct way to spell it. You don’t change the letter names when altering even though it could be simply seen as an F. The reason being is that the key your are in already has and F# in it and you can’t have two different types of an F in the same key.

      Hope this makes sense! Carl…

  12. Billy says:

    Okay I understand, but there isn’t a A minor in the key of A major correct? Anyway, thank you for the thorough explanation. What would the A minor triad in the key of C major be? Wouldn’t it be A Cb E? Because there is no sharps in that key?

    • Carl Brown says:

      Hey Billy, no there is no A minor triad diatonic to the key of A Major.

      The A minor already occurs naturally in the key of C major as A C E, it is the vi chord in the key. Let me give you a quick rundown.

      C Major: C D E F G A B
      I chord = C Major (C E G)
      ii chord = D Minor (D F A)
      iii chord= E Minor (E G B)
      IV chord = F Major (F A C)
      V chord = G Major (G B D)
      vi chord = A Minor (A C E)
      vii chord= B Dim. (B D F)

      So there is simple triad built off of every note in the C major scale consecutively and you can find the notes easily by skipping every other tone until your have all 3 you need.

      In other words, the I chord is built from the 1st 3rd and 5th notes of the scale and the ii chord is built from the 2nd 4th and 6th tones of the scale etc..

      Those triads listed above are the only ones diatonic to the key of C major. :)

      Carl..

  13. Noah says:

    Truly amazing lessons… I have learned so much from you. This is easily the best lessons site to go to. I’m 10 yrs. old and have started to play guitar. You are the one I’ve gone to if I had trouble with something. Thanks so much for putting together your lessons. The best guitar teacher out there!

    • Carl Brown says:

      Hey Noah, thanks a bunch for the kind comment.

      Really glad you chose my site to help you with your guitar studies. Hope you get many years of use out of my lessons.

      Please don’t hesitate to ask a question if you need any help at all. :)

      Carl..

  14. Billy says:

    Thanks again Carl, you’ve helped me clear this up. (:

  15. Billy says:

    It makes sense that there wouldn’t be any augmentations that you would need to do to the key of C major. because, if you did that the entire key would loose its integrity.

    • Carl Brown says:

      That us true. For major keys just memorize this formula.

      Major, Minor, Minor, Major, Major, Minor, Diminished

      Those are the basic triad types for every major key and the order never changes.

      In other words, the I chord is always major, the ii chord always minor and so forth.

      You simply need to string the note names of any major scale along that formula to get all the chords for every major scale.

      Ex.
      C Major= C Major, D Minor, E Minor, F Major, G Major, A Minor, B Diminished
      F Major= F Major, G Minor, A Minor, Bb Major, C Major, D Minor, E Diminished

      Carl.. :)

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