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The Ultimate Guide To Triad Inversions For Guitar


Impress your grandma with your upside down chord building skills by learning chord inversions!

This is Part 2 in my 3 part series of Chord construction

Prerequisite reading:
Learn to play guitar scales for beginners
How to play Major and minor Scales all over the neck
Learning intervals for guitar
Chord construction part I

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Chord inversions

When a chord's root is not the lowest pitch, the chord is said to be inverted. The name of the chord stays the same.

Why learn chord inversions

Understanding chord inversions help you choose different voicings (more ways to stack tones) of chords. Learning inversions also helps to improve your improvisation skills. Improvising (creating music on the fly) is a common thing to do in Jazz guitar but it's also great for coming up with musical ideas.

Two types of inversions

* First inversion = the 3rd is the lowest pitch in the chord.

* Second inversion = the 5th is the lowest pitch in the chord.

guitar chord triad inversions

Guitar fretboard animation of triad shape inversions

The GIF animation below shows all the naturally occurring triad inversion shapes color coded in the key of A Major/F# minor (single animation frames are below actual animation).

This purpose of the animation is to help you see how the notes for each string group do not change by letting you focus your attention on one color coded chord at a time as it's shape changes. Only the note's role changes depending on the inversion screen you are currently viewing. With this, you should be able to see how all notes of a scale are harmonically connected!

*** TIP HOW TO USE THE ANIMATION: Focus on a scale degree's color and watch only it's inversions.

guitar chord inversions animated gif

The key of A Major/F# minor was used for this lesson because everything fits nice visually up to the 12 fret. However, the triad shapes remain the same for all keys. Only their positions would change for the new key.

Single slideshow FRAMES

How to read the diagrams: Roman numeral columns denote the scale degree for each chord. Capitalized numerals are Major, lowercase are minor or diminished. Chords are color coded!

3rd string triad shapes

root position triads shapes from the 3rd guitar string

first inversion triads shapes from the 3rd guitar string

second inversion triads shapes from the 3rd guitar string

4th string triad shapes

root position triads shapes from the 4th guitar string

first inversion triads shapes from the 4th guitar string

second inversion triads shapes from the 4th guitar string

5th string triad shapes

root position triads shapes from the 5th guitar string

1st inversion triads shapes from the 5th guitar string

2nd inversion triads shapes from the 5th guitar string

6th string triad shapes

root position triads shapes from the 6th guitar string

first inversion triads shapes from the 6th guitar string

second inversion triads shapes from the 6th guitar string

Why no first or second string diagrams?

There are no first or second string diagrams because you can't play full chords in the correct order using only one or two strings. You can however, play arpeggios and you should try it!

Summary

I bet you understand chord inversions a whole lot better now...don't you think? I bet you can also see you have your work cut out for you too. Spend the time to commit these triad shapes to memory because it will work wonders for you on so many different levels especially building chords on the fly and improvisation.

Ready to build more guitar chords?

Read Part 3

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the ultimate guide to triad inversions for guitar

Posted August 21, 2015, 2:36 pm in: Guitar lessons


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