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Guitar Lesson: Opening Up the Neck Using Triads


When learning music, it’s often the case that unpacking and understanding a seemingly small and simple concept can lead to enormous breakthroughs that have an immeasurable impact on your playing, knowledge of music theory, and musicianship. In traditional Western music, one of the most basic harmonic concepts is that of the triad.


What is a Triad?

A triad is any three-note chord and is almost always comprised of a root note, the third scale degree above that (either major or minor), and the fifth scale degree above the root.


Understanding how these simple three-note harmonies are constructed and how to build both major and minor triads will vastly improve your understanding of music theory and, in turn, your knowledge of and abilities on your instrument.


In this online guitar lesson, ArtistWorks electric country guitar instructor and one of Nashville’s most sought-after session musicians, Guthrie Trapp, teaches how to craft both major and minor triads across the guitar’s fretboard. By illustrating how these harmonies are constructed, Guthrie not only clearly shows how major and minor triads are related, improving your understanding of music theory, but also outlines critical triad fingerings and chord shapes that can be transposed across the guitar neck and used to create chords in any key.


LEARN MORE: Want to learn how to play country guitar from a master musician like Guthrie Trapp? Try some free online guitar lessons now!


“Mapping out the fingerboard with chords and triads has been one of the most helpful things I’ve ever done for my playing,” Guthrie explains. “Once you understand how these chords and harmonies are built, and practice them over and over, they become second nature and give you the freedom to play without thinking. They’re an important fundamental you can always lean on.”


The techniques that Guthrie outlines in this lesson will also greatly improve your ability to craft smaller chord voicings that may better fit the aesthetic of the musical context in which you’re playing. These methods will help you branch out from open position chords, or “cowboy chords,” as they’re often called, and begin crafting chords that transition better from one another and maybe feature more tasteful voice-leading.


“Understanding these concepts relates directly to your ability to play any kind of blistering lead guitar or solos that you may want to be able to play,” explains Guthrie. “By understanding these concepts, you’ll better understand the foundation of why certain notes sound better over certain chords, and it will help you branch out beyond the major and minor pentatonic boxes.”


To learn how to use simple music theory concepts to craft triads across the neck that will vastly expand your understanding of the fretboard, dive into this online guitar lesson from Guthrie Trapp:


Opening Up the Neck Using Triads with Guthrie Trapp:




Have you always wanted to learn how to play country guitar? Through our comprehensive guitar lessons online and Video Exchange Learning platform here at ArtistWorks, you can learn from internationally renowned players, like Guthrie Trapp, and get personal feedback on your playing.


Guthrie’s course starts with the basics and teaches everything from beginner guitar to advanced performance techniques, classic country tunes, improvisation methods, and beyond. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, all levels are welcome and all students will grow and improve their skills as guitarists and musicians.


Sample some free music lessons here and see what makes ArtistWorks courses some of the best online music lessons around!



Guthrie also has two brand new courses that are now available for pre-order at our sister company, TrueFire:


“Roots Recharge: A Genre-Bending Masterclass in Artistic Soloing”

“In The Jam with Guthrie Trapp”


These courses are both great supplements to his curriculum at ArtistWorks. Click the links above to learn more and pre-order today!



The Top 4 Techniques for Country Guitar Soloing with Guthrie Trapp

Blues & Americana Guitar Lesson: Small Chords & Double Stops with Keb’ Mo’

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