I’ve had trouble finding good simple charts of spread triads. Rick Beato did a great video on them recently, but I had trouble finding a simple reference for spread triads in his book (which I’d highly recommend here, as it is freakishly comprehensive). I figured it was worth working out my own reference to share on Pedal On. Here are the major spread triads with their bass note on the lowest string. They aren’t all easy to play, but they sound great. I’ll work across the strings and then into minor and maybe beyond.
Diving back to triads in all positions. I don’t naturally grab these triads up the neck, but now is as good a time as any to start.
I didn’t realize just how useful learning all of these triad positions would be until they started clicking, particularly up and down between the three core shapes in a given key (root on string 2, 3, or 4). Beginning with the shape below as the I chord gives you a ton of options nearby. The ii, IV, and vi have multiple options that are easy to grab or switch between.
With a bassline or second harmony covering the low end, you can easily cycle through the upper extensions of the underlying chord (upper structure triads once you’re beyond R,3,5 if I recall correctly). Throw sus2 and sus4 in and your palette extends even further. I should probably record an audio example to demonstrate.
The best thing to me is that you can always map a diatonic mode back to a home Ionean key, so just knowing which I chord you refer back to means you can grab extensions up and down the neck. For instance, A Aeolian is just the sixth mode of C Major, so all of the triads will be the same as those in C. Even grabbing the C Maj triad just gives you an Am7 over an A bass note.
Here’s a link to a tool I run from my personal page. It allows you to pick a home key (Major/Ionean) and see everything I could come up with that qualifies as an interesting substitution or borrowed chord. I’m sure there will be more to add down the line, but I’ve barely scratched the surface of putting these into practice.
On to strings 2/3/4. No shortage of options here either. For the rootless versions, it’s easiest helpful to think about placing the minor 7th position relative to the target root.
Dominant triads can be put together by dropping the root or the fifth, assuming you have a root from a bassline or keyboard. I don’t use a ton of dominant chords, but I think its another tool I personally need to beef up. Here’s the top three strings:
This particular shape of the minor 7 is one of my favorites. It’s easily movable and removes the extra 5th from the typical barre chord, which leaves more space for the rest of a track without sacrificing complexity.