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.
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:
Here’s the second set of Major Key triads (in B this time) starting off the second inversion of the I chord (second string root). These have a nice flow and the I and IV shapes here should probably be old hat even if just as part of familiar bar chords.
This is the first of an exploration into mapping out all triads in a key in close proximity. There’s no shortage of locations to work from, but this is the starting point I grab most frequently. Also included are characteristic notes for the associated modes to help add color highlighting where you are in the key. All labels are relative to the key center.
On to the top three strings. I’ve personally never spent enough time on the shapes on these strings, so this is a useful learning exercise, and hopefully sharing these proves helpful more broadly. I’ve certainly never noticed that barring the top three strings gives you a major sixth or that you have a useful, easy sus2 in most pentatonic boxes.
It’s time to move onto the triads on the first three strings. I’ve neglected learning these for far too long personally, so a good study of the major triads on 1/2/3 is warranted. It’s also probably time to start looking at the minor triads on both sets, which are easy to get to from their major counterparts.
One last useful triad on strings 2/3/4. We all probably know this one, though I’ve never looked for the extensions until now. Knowing how to alter this simple bar is a great tool.