Major Chords – A Beginner’s Guide to Guitar Triads

Major chords are one of the cornerstones of guitar triads, comprising of a root note, major third note and perfect fifth.

These “open” chords are ideal for beginner guitarists as they do not contain bar chord shapes. Each fret number indicates which finger should place on it while black circles indicate which strings remain ‘open,” that is unplayed.

A Major

Once you have become comfortable with the maj6 to min7 relationship and passing chords, it is time to venture further into chord equivalencies such as upper structure triads.

Stacked thirds produce augmented chords, while stacking three minor thirds creates diminished chords – both have colorful sounding alternatives to the pure fifth of major or minor chords.

Add a bass note to this chord shape to create a first inversion voicing an octave lower than figure 3. This provides a beefier rhythm sound. Combine with other root notes for various chord progressions!

B Major

B major is one of the more challenging beginner chords, yet with practice it will become second nature. Like all major scales, it has five sharps; its relative minor chord is G-sharp minor.

Chords typically occur at the I, IV and V degrees of the scale; B Major chords fall into this category and include B – D# – F# notes which make for a very familiar melody in popular music.

This chord offers a bright sound that elicits positive feelings when played. Additionally, it’s used in some popular songs by Coldplay such as “Yellow”.

C Major

C major is one of the most familiar major chords and often the first type one learns, often creating an upbeat atmosphere as opposed to minor chords which can often bring about sadness and despair.

Triads consist of three notes, beginning with C at its root (C), followed by E (major third) and G (perfect fifth), that can be built to any scale degree.

Play them in different vertical orders called inversions; one such inversion sees G moved an octave higher to form C – E – G (1+3+5) chord.

D Major

Most major chords consist of three notes that form what’s known as a triad, consisting of a root note, major third note and perfect fifth. Any major chord that contains both major third and perfect fifth notes simultaneously is known as a dominant chord.

Triads are essential in adding vibrancy and simplicity to rhythm playing, while simultaneously helping you master complex chord shapes when soloing or performing with a band. Furthermore, learning triads will also enable you to understand most song progressions more quickly.

Every triad can be arranged in various vertical arrangements and still be classified as the same chord. Below is an illustration of D major’s triad.

E Major

E Major is a major scale with four sharps. Its key signature is EF#GAABC#D#. Click to see this score with its notes written out.

Major chords have long been associated with happiness; this may be based on cultural influence.

Be mindful that one note can have the power to lift or dampen your mood; therefore, pay careful attention to intervallic patterns when working with any major key. Major chords always form triads; to construct them follow this formula: 1st scale degree + 3rd + 5th scale degrees for that key.

F Major

F major is one of the easiest major chords to learn and is widely considered one of the brightest sounding. This chord creates a more positive atmosphere than its minor counterparts.

Major chords can be formed using any one or more of the first, third, and fifth scale degrees.

These different configurations of chords are known as inversions. For instance, a C major triad may be played either as its first inversion (C – E – G) or in its second inversion (C – E – B).

Full barred chords require considerable hand strength and coordination to play correctly, and should be practiced slowly in order to prevent tightening your hands which could result in missed notes. Rushing leads to tightened hands which could result in missed notes being played.