How Guitar Chords Are Created

When two strings are supported and plucked simultaneously, their vibration produces sound, creating chords.

Beginners often start off using an EADGBE tuning, though other open guitar tunings may work just as well.

Carnifex, Whitechapel, Oceano and Betraying the Martyrs are among the many metal bands who utilize this system.

Major and Minor Triads

Triad chords (or triad harmonies) are fundamental building blocks of tonal music, comprising of root, third and fifth notes. Major and minor triads should be explored extensively: major ones form most melodies while minor chords make up secondary melodies.

Both major and minor triads contain third intervals; the difference is that major triads feature major thirds on their bottom half while minor ones feature minor thirds in the middle and major thirds at either end. Triads can also be extended or contracted.

No matter the kind of triad, its position is determined by which chord member sounds in the bass. A triad with its root sounding in the bass is considered in root position while chords with their roots in the bass and third or fifth notes above them can be classified as first or second inversion respectively.


Know your scales is an absolute necessity for any serious guitar player. Scales set the emotional atmosphere of songs, allow for various chord progressions and provide a roadmap to creating melodies and basslines that work over them.

Scales are circular patterns arranged to repeat themselves octave-by-octave. Their names reflect the collection of notes (plus any flats or sharps – for example, B major is C major with added flats), their order is also important and any name changes occur immediately as new notes arrive into play.

Standard six-string tuning for six string instruments is E-A-D-G-B-C with lower strings tuned down one and one-half steps for a more relaxed sound, often used by Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss and Sleep bands, as well as by Brutal Truth on their songs “Down” and “Slide”. Variations on this tuning have also been employed by Dethklok, Suffocation Entombed Gorguts etc.

Chords with more than three notes

Chords that feature more than three notes can be constructed using the triad method and are often found in jazz music. Such chords don’t just feature root, fifth and seventh but instead add extensions like ninths and thirteenths that help make them sound fuller and richer. Doubled chords may also be added across multiple octaves to further amplify the rich sound they produce.

Most chords consisting of more than three notes are formed by stacking thirds (i.e. intervals one third or fifth above the root note). This form of chord is known as tertian chord and can be found across most musical genres.

Some chords are represented with an “o”, denoting diminished or flattened fifth triad chords (sometimes written as m7b5), while other types may be indicated with numbers, usually for major seventh (maj7) chords or dominant seventh chords in which the fifth tone has been raised by one semitone (DM7, Gm7 or GD7); rarely used in guitar music is “dom” to signify dominant seventh chords.

Chords with two notes

Though chords typically consist of at least three notes, chords with two notes can still provide powerful sounds in various genres of music. These dyad chords may lack some of the power associated with their three note counterparts due to the absence of one note; however, they still provide great tonal qualities in some genres of music.

Root and fifth chords, more commonly known as power chords or 5th chords, are frequently used in rock, metal and other genres that rely heavily on distortion to produce thick chords.

Born of Osiris (for tracks such as “Silence the Echo” and “Crossface”), Chelsea Grin (in recent years), Carcosa have all employed this tuning style; it involves tuning each string up half a step from standard G tuning; meaning the lowest string would be tuned to Eb and the remaining strings remain tuned as standard G tuning.