Guitar Chords Vs Notes

guitar chords vs notes

A chord is a group of notes which, together, produce a particular musical sound and mood. A single note does not evoke such associations in itself.

On a fretboard, sharp indicates a note which is half step higher than its natural sound; similarly, flat indicates it has been altered down by half step.

Major Triads

Triads provide an easy entryway into learning chord shapes on guitar. Triads consist of three note chords that occupy all three strings at once and can usually be found easily anywhere on the fretboard since each note is only one semitone away from another. Triads can also provide an introduction to various qualities of chords – for instance a major triad with its root note at C is happy and stable while diminished chords on C can have unnerving sounds that need resolution.

Triads form the backbone of most chords. Their three notes comprise most major scale chords without changing as you switch major key keys – making major triads an excellent way to develop both your ear training and improvisational abilities.

Minor Triads

Triad structure offers many possibilities for chord variations and voicings to be explored. While notes may change their identification through doubled note spacing or open spacing, chord identification remains determined by its root note; therefore by moving up one fret on a minor triad diagram and muted lower strings you’d get an A diminished chord (A, C#, E).

Triads can be easily identified with specific quality names based on their scale degree, making them easy to spot. Major triads are represented by capital letters; minor ones by lowercase “mi” letters. Diminished triads have an o superscript circle (o), while augmented ones use an plus sign (+).

Understanding intervals will enable you to gain a deeper understanding of what is being played, how the triads relate to one another and the perceived harmonic center (tonic) of any key. This knowledge is especially useful when creating arpeggios, melodies and riffs on guitar.

Suspended Triads

Triads may form the cornerstone of chord progressions, but sometimes you want something with more texture or personality. Suspended (also called sus2) and sus4 chords provide such options – they differ from regular triads in that they lack a third interval that distinguishes major or minor chords – giving more scope for harmonic movement and tension in a song.

To create a suspended chord, all it takes to alter its quality from major to minor is replacing the third with either a second or fourth note from the scale; this changes its quality from major to minor or vice versa. Chords containing sus4 chords replace their third with either an open fourth note (written sus4), or with their 3rd replaced with either second (sus2); when used effectively these chords can add tension and unresolved emotion into music while serving as transitional bridges between major and minor progressions.

7th Chords

Seventh chords are an essential element in a guitarist’s repertoire, consisting of chords composed with either major or minor triads and an added seventh note from their scale.

Triad chords produce an open and airy sound compared to their triad counterparts, making them a timeless element in music from classic works such as Claire De Lune by Claude Debussy through contemporary pop songs and jazz.

These chords can also help create tension by providing a dissonant contrast against the resolution of a tonic chord and can highlight movement within songs.

As with triads, seventh chords come in various varieties – major, minor, diminished and augmented are some common examples of seventh chords that you might find across genres of music. Major seventh chords can often be found in love songs as their sound has an easy jazz vibe; minor seventh chords are particularly prevalent in blues and jazz music but have some dissonant properties which makes them less stable than dominant seventh chords.

guitar chords vs notes

Confusion often exists between guitar chords and notes, namely fretted and open note formats. A note represents one tone or pitch which may either be fretted or open fretted.

A chord, on the other hand, is defined as any combination of sounds which support melody. To understand chords properly we must first grasp what a note is.

What is a chord?

A chord is an ensemble of notes played together on a musical instrument. Chords are created by superimposing triads with differing intervals such as thirds (minor and major), fourths or fifths.

A basic guitar chord comprises three notes – root, third and fifth. To create minor or major seventh chords, add in another note (4th or 4th if necessary), as well as extensions like ninths and thirteenths for more complex types.

Understanding chord construction can greatly enhance your knowledge of how to play guitar. This article will explain these concepts in depth.

What is a note?

At its core, a note is an individual pitch played on the guitar; chords consist of three or more distinct pitches played simultaneously.

Mastering chords is key to becoming a musician; it enables songs to be performed and allows songwriters to craft original melodies and lyrics.

Notes can also be referred to using flats (b) and sharps (#), so it’s crucial that you understand their difference when starting to play alongside other musicians and read sheet music. In-between fretboard notes may also be altered using regular tuning methods like major-thirds.

What is a triad?

A triad is an ensemble of three notes, often found in guitar chords – it usually consists of the root note, third note and fifth note.

Triads possess their own distinct sound. Major triads are considered “happy,” minor ones “sad,” and diminished ones have an “ominous” quality to them.

There are various shapes on the fretboard which form triads. Once you understand intervals, these shapes can be used to form any desired triad. This process is known as playing inversions; its qualities may change when its form changes.

What is a major chord?

Major chords are three-note triads composed of a root note, major third note and perfect fifth. Although any base note can be chosen to form this chord triad, its notes must always maintain this characteristic interval relationship among themselves.

As many songs use major chords, becoming familiar and practicing them will help build your repertoire. A major chord is especially useful as it’s commonly found in rock and pop music.

There is a range of major chords, both augmented and diminished, that require barre chords with specific fingering techniques that must be learned.

What is a minor chord?

Minor chords consist of three elements – root, third and fifth. There’s some additional music theory involved here as well, but once you understand chords well you won’t need to explore that aspect as much.

Most guitar chord diagrams should be read from left to right; their lines indicate which strings and frets are being played, with an X representing muted or unplayed strings.

To convert a Major chord to a Minor one on guitar, just lower its middle note by half a step; this will transform it from E to Eb and is known as sus chords or suspended chords.

What is a triad in a minor key?

Minor triads are composed of the root, major third and perfect fifth notes from a minor scale stacked vertically. You may add extra notes beyond these basic triads to create other chord types such as augmented and diminished chords.

Every chord carries with it unique qualities determined by its compositional elements: type of scale used and key signature of piece it is part of. These qualities can be clearly seen written onto chord by adding Roman numerals at the end of its name.

Individual notes in a chord may also be described using note intervals; for instance, a bass 3 symbol denotes that its lowest note is E from C-3rd interval.

As part of your guitar learning experience, it is vitally important that you know the difference between chords and notes. Doing so will allow you to play better songs as well as better understand how music works.

Triad chords are the easiest form of chord to construct; each note in this three-note set is separated by what’s known as an interval.


Triad chords are the simplest type of chord. Consisting of three notes that are separated by intervals such as major thirds or minor thirds or augmented and diminished fifths, they provide an easy introduction into music for beginners.

On the guitar, notes are identified using a musical alphabet, which varies slightly from our regular alphabet in terms of flats and sharps (B# being flats while E# sharps).

Chords can consist of any number of notes that sound similarly; at least three different kinds must sound similarly and form a chord. Two notes with similar sounding notes do not make a chord; rather they must be differentiated at regular intervals to qualify as such.

Starting out on guitar will involve learning basic chords such as major and minor triads as well as dominant seventh chords; for intermediate musicians this may also include more complex ones, like augmented and diminished fifths which derive from basic triads but add additional intervals like major seventh (adding major third to minor triad) or minor seventh (adding minor third to major triad).


Understanding the distinction between notes and chords is vital for learning guitar. While a note refers to one sound, chords refer to groups of notes played together in harmony to produce musical harmony. Knowing their difference will allow you to play better guitar!

Most chords consist of three notes; major chords contain G, B and D while minor ones feature A, C and E notes. Triads are the simplest form of chord.

As you progress with chords, more strings will be added to increase its complexity and to broaden its tonal palette; these additional notes are known as extension notes.

Understanding how to shift between major and minor chords is an integral component of musical progression. But, it’s also important to keep in mind that songwriters rarely stick strictly to one key; often incorporating chords from multiple keys into their songs. Therefore, any chord functions we learn are more of an approximation than hard rule.


A chord must consist of three notes; otherwise known as chord inversion. Furthermore, intervals must exist from its root note in order for it to function as an effective chord.

Basic chords consist of either a major or minor triad; however, many chords contain more than just that simple structure – for instance a sus4 chord contains an additional fifth interval from its root note.

Chord names are generally determined using scales and musical mathematics. Flats and sharps are frequently used to indicate which notes will need to be played – for instance Db would signify that an A must be flattened by one semitone (one step down from A). One additional tone above A would result in E as another alternative name of chord.


Although many songs in song books contain chords that can be played on both guitar and piano, there may be slight variance in terms of number of notes used due to limitations associated with guitar playing ability.

As an example, piano chords generally use three or more notes (including their root note) but on guitar you may only be able to access one or two. This may also present challenges when it comes to voicing specific chords as these instruments often require sharps [#] or flats [] in order to achieve an appropriate tone.

Ayla Tesler-Mabe of YouTube channel providing lessons on scales and chord theory used this example when discussing differences between guitar chords and notes. Watching this video will give you more information about chords’ relationship to scales; additionally you’ll be able to witness patterns created by fretboard chords shapes.