Working on triad exercises is a great way to get more things you can play in your solos, but is also a great way to build your overview of the fretboard and open up how you move from one position to the next in a solo.
In this lesson, I am going to show you 5 triad exercises that were very useful for me and that will develop your playing, fretboard overview, and your technique.
#1 Diatonic Triads – Most Important Triad Exercise
Whatever you want to learn or get better at in Music, a good strategy is to also keep in mind what context you will use it in, and somehow include that in the exercise. It is never really enough to just be able to play something, there is always more going on. To link the triads to scales, positions and inversion then I am going to cover some horizontal, vertical, and diagonal connections that are very useful.
The first place I would suggest that you start working on triads is to practice the diatonic triads in whatever scale positions you are used to.
This is a great way to start seeing those patterns within the scale, and you can use the triad as a part of a lick and easily connect it to other things like 7th chord arpeggios and scale runs.
With knowing these then it is of course also really useful to know what triads you are playing so that you know
- The Diatonic Harmony of the Scale
- What Triads are available and will work over other chords
This is the most basic way to practice the triads, but once you work on this I would recommend that you try to also explore the inversions.
Creating Inversions of the triads
Creating inversions of a triad is fairly simple. You have one root position and then 2 inversions. You can create the inversions by moving up the lowest note an octave.
So C major root position: C E G, move up the C one octave and then play from E, G, C once more now the G is the lowest note: G C E
Taking this through the scale and keeping track of the triad is a great exercise and sounds like this:
Diatonic 1st inversion triads
Another great thing to explore is to play the notes in a pattern to get a different melody out of the triads already when they are technical exercises. This pattern which goes 3rd, root, 5th is a solid melody in solos as well, plus it is easy to play.
Diatonic Triads in 315
Technique For Diatonic Triads
When you are playing these exercises then you can use several techniques. It is not really important and depends more on how you play. I would start with alternate picking, but in the end, adding in economy and legato is a good idea, just make sure to listen to how it sounds, your choices can change the dynamics in the triads and maybe accent something that you don’t want to.
#2 Diatonic Triads Along The Neck
Let’s look at moving up and down the neck to start bridging the gap between positions
Diatonic Triads of C major on the A,D and G string set
Again you want to be aware of the chords you play, and also check out the other string sets like the next on D,G and B
Diatonic Triads of C major on the G,D and B string set
And with these, you can also work on the inversion of course. Here are the 2nd inversion triads along the neck on the top string set:
2nd Inversion Diatonic Triads of C major on the top string set
A Fantastic Alternate Picking Exercise
Working on these one-note-per-string triads is a great way to become more precise and efficient for your right hand when it comes to alternate picking. It is the type of thing that you will see in exercises by Steve Morse and also have jaw-dropping examples of in Bluegrass.
You can of course also work on different economy picking strategies, but maybe that is something for another lesson (once you have practiced your alternate picking a bit more)
#3 Inversions Along The Neck
The next level for your fretboard overview is to start working on inversions of a single chord along the neck. One way to do that could be on a single string set:
C major inversions on A,D, and G string set
And of course, you can do this on other string sets as well.
C major inversions on D, G and B string set
This is great to develop your fretboard knowledge and really know the triads. A good mental exercise is to play the triad inversions and then see the scale around it for each inversion, really linking up the triad and the scale.
#4 Turning Inversions into Vertical Triads
The inversions are a great way to play the triads as flexible groups of notes around the neck, but you can also turn them into a gateway to seeing entire positions of the triad by linking inversions from string set to string set (play inversions horizontally to show the gradually reveal the triad position)
This way of looking at a triad position is useful because it is not just a large block that you run through without thinking. Something that is often an issue with scale and arpeggio positions.
You can make the connection as chords or play them as an inversion exercise
An exercise like this is really about linking all the information so that you have an easier time remembering and using it in solos. Now you have linked the triads across the neck both in a vertical and horizontal way, let’s add a diagonal approach as well.
#5 Repeating Cell-Shapes
If you look at the way the first root position C major triad looked at the beginning of the lesson;
then that is a pattern that is taking up two strings, and the way the guitar works, a pattern like this is easy to move across the fretboard by moving it up an octave and playing the exact same pattern.
And this works for any type of triad and its inversions
EXAMPLE 2nd inversion triad cell
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