Open Triads in Solos

In this lesson I want to give you a few exercises and show how I use open voiced triads in my solos. The sound of open voiced triads is often associated with Eric Johnson and Steve Morse but is a fairly common device in Jazz and Rock. Hopefully this lesson will give you some insight and a way to incorporate it in your own playing.

The lesson is based around a basic  II V I in F major as shown here:

Open Triads in Solos - example 1

In some of the examples I decided to also use a dominant from the diminished scale, and not only the altered scale. Especially because triads are really great melodic material when using the diminished scale.

The Exercises

The first basic exercise is to practice playing the open voiced triad in inversions. Here’s the Bb Major and G minor triads.

Open Triads in Solos - example 2

Open Triads in Solos - example 3

As I mentioned in the video and also in the lesson: Open triads for jazz chords there are more ways to play the same triads and you might find that in some contexts it is easier to use something else than what I have put in these 2 exercises, but these are the ones I use for this exercise and sometimes I’ll use something else if that works better in other situations.

The next exercise is to play the triads through a major scale. In this case the F major scale. I most of the time practice arpeggios and other things in a scale or tonal context since that is where you have to put it to use.

This exercise is not that useful in a position so I wrote it out across the neck from low to high. This is also a very useful approach to practicing for building an overview of the neck and also to help you connecting the different positions.

Open Triads in Solos - example 4

You might want to try taking the other inversions through the scale as well.

The lines

Before I start going through the lines I just want to explain how I chose triads for each of the chords. The process is fairly simple as it is just picking triads out of the stacked thirds that make up the chords and add some extensions to get a few more triads.


I have chosen to show the C7alt using the same trick as in Diatonic Arpeggios – Superimposing arpeggios and altered chords, so the triads are chosen by looking at the tritone substitution of C7, Gb7. In the video I also briefly explain how I come by the triads in the diminished scale.

Open Triads in Solos - example 5

In this lesson I tried to write the lines a bit further so that it also shows some of the melodies I might use on the I chord.

Open Triads in Solos - example 6

The first line is build by using a Bb major open voiced triad that continues into a Gm arpeggio. For the dominant I string together an Eaugmented triad and an inversion of the Gb7 arpeggio. The line on the Fmaj7 is a stack of fourths from G and then an Asus4 triad. The Asus4 works well over Fmaj7 because it is 3(A), 13(D) and 7(E) of the chord.


Open Triads in Solos - example 7

In the 2nd example I start with a Dm7 arpeggio over the Gm7 chord which resolves to the 3rd of the Gm on the 3rd beat. On the C7 the first part is a Gb open voiced triad followed by a Dbminor triad. on the Fmaj7 I first play a Gsus4 arpeggio and then a pentatonic 3 note per string idea that in this case turns out to be an Aminor triad resolving to the 13 of F.

Open Triads in Solos - example 8

I chain the Gm7 and the Dm7 arpeggios over the Gm7 chord in example 3. The line over the C7 is an Bbdim open triad, followed by an Eb major triad. As you might see from the notes being played I am usin gthe diminished scale over the C7. On the Fmaj7 I play an D7sus4 arpeggio, but I guess you could argue that it is also an Am pentatonic line.

Open Triads in Solos - example 9

The coltrane minor pattern opens up the fourth example and it continues into an open voiced F major triad. The C7 line is again usin gthe diminished sound and is an E diminished arpeggio followed by an open A triad. The line resolves to the 7th of F and then the melody continues to the 9th(G) of F.

As always you can download the examples as a pdf here:

Open Triads in Solos

I hope that you liked the lesson, and can use some of this information to make your own lines with using open triad arpeggios

If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.