TRS 02 – Triads

In this second section, we’re going to take a look at how we can apply triads in a practical manner, by playing them over a chord progression. There are lots of ways you can use these, some of which have been demonstrated here, but truly, the possibilities are endless. The main thing is to really take your time with it, kick on that jam track, and just start EXPERIMENTING! You will find patterns and combinations that appeal to you, so when you do, work those over and make them part of your style.
You’ll find the Mouse practice video here.

Any questions, post them in the comments below!

Leave a Reply 14 comments - February 27, 2017 Reply

Jonathan, this is an exceptionally helpful lesson. It really feels that this is taking me onto a new stage in my playing. So much to learn and rehearse, but you have explained the theory in a brilliant way. Many thanks. Peter, Sussex, UK

    Jonathan Boettcher - February 27, 2017 Reply

    Thanks Peter, that’s music to my ears! 🙂

William Hadder - February 12, 2020 Reply

Jon,Working through the course and up to triads section. More specifically, applying triads to improvising. Reading through it, on page 35, in the Homework section, you want me to draw out thirds and inverted thirds in A minor. Notes in A min are ABCDEFG, A maj ABC#DEF#G#. My question is, plot it out same as Maj key, just flat the third? Pretty sure that is how one would do it, Just want to make sure before moving ahead. Your suggestion of charting thing out has been key for me. Can whip them right out now. Need a bigger binder!…Will

    Jonathan Boettcher - February 12, 2020 Reply

    Hi Will, that’s great to hear you’re doing the “work” and seeing the rewards!!! It is amazing how a simple (and sometimes tedious) task like that can really help open up our understanding.

    Regarding your question, you’d have to flat the third and flat the seven as well to go from major to minor.

William Hadder - February 12, 2020 Reply

Jon, Another question as I am looking at this. Since this is in A minor, the first chord is minor, 2nd is dim(min),3rd is maj, 4th is min, 5th is min, 6th maj, 7th maj? Maj is Maj,min, min, maj, maj, min,min. Hope i am not going off the rails on this. A bit confusing…Will

    Jonathan Boettcher - February 12, 2020 Reply

    Hey Will, yeah – all you’re doing is using the same notes & intervals, but from a different starting point. This means the actual sequence remains the same.

William Hadder - February 12, 2020 Reply

Jon, I’m not understanding your answer. Same notes? A MAJ is A B C# D E F#G#A. Minor is A B C D E F G A. Am I missing something? Where would you start A minor on the two top strings E_B. I am starting A 10th fret B string, C 8th fret hi E. Just doesn’t sound right. maybe just not accustomed to sound of minor scale. I just want to get it figured out correctly. Probably me just overthinking it. Thanks for your help,Jon…Will

    Jonathan Boettcher - February 12, 2020 Reply

    Hey Will, sorry you’re right. Mental lapse there 🙂

    Regardless, I don’t tend to think of it that way, though it’s perfectly valid to do so. (In terms of which notes you need to change to make it minor).

    In terms of where to start with A minor, I’d usually start on an A, wherever that may be on the string you’re working with, if you’re just talking about writing out patterns. If you’re playing, then more variables come into play, such as if you’re playing with a chord progression, and if so, what chord you’re playing over, etc.

William Hadder - February 13, 2020 Reply

Jon, I want to tell you how I am doing this: For A min, I start on A 10th fret B string, B 12th fret, C on 1st fret,etc. E string open E, F 1st fret, G 3rd fret, etc. 3rd of A is C,B-D,C-E,D-F,E-G, F-A,G-B, back to A. I am using A minor scale,T-ST-T-T-ST-T-T. I chart out the remaining sting combo’s the same way. If this is correct, I guess I am good to go. Thank you for your patience, Jon….Will

Jonathan Boettcher - February 13, 2020 Reply

Hi Will, yes that looks correct to me. I’d recommend making your fretboard go up to at least the 15th fret, if not 17th. Make it something appropriate to what your own guitar goes to. I know it’s just repeated after the 12th, but playing through the 12th fret and surrounding area is such an important zone on the fretboard, it is worth doing everything you can to be familiar with it.

William Hadder - February 24, 2020 Reply

Jon, I rethought how I was approaching this. What I did was take the Am triad( ACE) and found those notes on the E,B,G,D strings and mapped them out on the neck . Did the same with F,Dm, Em. I have not tried them with the Jam Track yet, as I am just getting them under my fingers. Interesting when you see them charted out, and how they lay on the fingerboard. Let me know if this is the approach you have in mind with this course as I’m thinking my original approach was incorrect…Will

    Jonathan Boettcher - February 24, 2020 Reply

    Hi Will, there are many approaches to using triads. In the course, I laid them out on the fretboard as completely as possible, but in practice, you may not approach them that way at all. What you’ve described in finding all the locations of a particular triad around the fretboard is a valuable exercise. Couple that with learning how the majo/minor shapes differ, and the progression of shapes through the key / up the fretboard, and you start to get a good handle on them.

Peter Hood - May 11, 2020 Reply


stupid question but where is the jam track for the triads (Am F Dm Em)

    Jonathan Boettcher - May 11, 2020 Reply

    Hi Peter, you can find the jam tracks in the course navigation on the left of this page, or alternatively you can download them from the main course homepage.

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