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Using Triads in Solos and Rhythm

This is my first time writing a column about guitar so I guess I’ll introduce myself. My name is Mike, I’ve been playing guitar for nine years, and I love shredding. I would like to show you a few concepts that I use in my playing, and I hope that I can open a few of you up to different ideas about shredding. I’m going to show a few examples of how to apply triads in soloing and riffing. It’s a technique that I rarely see and I got the idea from playing classical guitar (though I’m sure that Steve Vai has used it on occasion).

Hopefully, everyone knows the basics:

  1. a triad is a 3-note chord consisting of a root, a third, and a fifth;
  2. there are three different triads found in the major scale: major, minor, and diminished;
  3. an inversion is simply a triad with a note other than the root in the bass. (root position = root
  4. is the bass note, 1st inversion = the 3rd is in the bass, 2nd inversion = 5th is in the bass.)

This should make sense to people with a basic understanding of chord construction, and if you don’t know the theory behind chords I strongly suggest investing the time to learn about scales and chords.

For each inversion (including root position) I have provided four positions for playing each triad (12 shapes total per chord). I’m writing everything with the root note C for convenience, but keep in mind all of these shapes are moveable and should be transposed.


  C major

|-3-----------|-8-------------|-12------------------------------|
|-5-8---------|-8-13----------|-13-5----------------------------|
|-5-9--12-----|-9-12-5--------|-12-5-9--------------------------|
|---10-14-5---|---14-5-10-----|----5-10-2-----------------------|
|------15-7---|------7-10-----|------10-3-----------------------|
|---------8---|--------12-----|---------3-----------------------|

root position | 1st inversion | 2nd inversion



  C minor

|-3-----------|-8-------------|-11------------------------------|
|-4-8---------|-8-13----------|-13-4----------------------------|
|-5-8--12-----|-8-12-5--------|-12-5-8--------------------------|
|---10-13-5---|---13-5-10-----|----5-10-1-----------------------|
|------15-6---|------6-10-----|------10-3-----------------------|
|---------8---|--------11-----|---------3-----------------------|

root position | 1st inversion | 2nd inversion






  C diminished

|-2-----------|-8-------------|-11------------------------------|
|-4-7---------|-7-13----------|-13-4----------------------------|
|-5-8--11-----|-8-11-5--------|-11-5-8--------------------------|
|---10-13-4---|---13-4-10-----|----4-10-1-----------------------|
|------15-6---|------6-9------|------9--3-----------------------|
|---------8---|--------11-----|---------2-----------------------|

root position | 1st inversion | 2nd inversion

These triads may be interspersed with single note lines in a solo and give a “punchy” feel when used correctly. Not only do they sound cool, they also reiterate the key of the solo.

Here is an example of a solo using every triad in the key C major: (use alternate picking for the lines and try to emphasize the chords)



|-8----10-12-10-8----8-|-7---8-10-8-7----5-|-5---7-8-10-7-8-7---|
|---10------------12-8-|---8----------10-6-|---6------------8---|
|--------------------9-|-----------------7-|----------------9---|
|----------------------|-------------------|--------------------|
|----------------------|-------------------|--------------------|
|----------------------|-------------------|--------------------|



|-----------------8--|-8-10-12----------------|------------------
|-7---------------10-|---------10-12-13----12-|-10---------------
|---9-7-----------10-|------------------10-12-|----12-10---------
|-------10-7-9-10----|---------------------12-|----------14-12-10
|--------------------|------------------------|------------------
|--------------------|------------------------|------------------



-----|----------------------------------------------------------|
-----|----12----------------------------------------------------|
--9--|-10-10-9-10-7-9-5-----------------------------------------|
9-10-|----12------------7~~~------------------------------------|
--12-|------------------7~~~------------------------------------|
-----|----------------------------------------------------------|

note: I would not suggest using every chord from a scale in a solo, I did it here just as an example of switching between single notes and triads in a solo.

Sweep Picking Triads

Triads are a good way to practice small sweeps.



|--------------------|------------------------------------------|
|--------------------|------------------------------------------|
|--------------------|------------------------------------------|
|-----7-9-10-------9-|-10-12-7~~~-------------------------------|
|---7-----------10---|-------0~~~-------------------------------|
|-8----------11------|------------------------------------------|


Triads in Rhythms

By using triads in the place of open or barre chords you are able to get a wide variety of tones and often more desirable fingerings.


|-10/8--8--8--8--8--X-X-|-10/8--8--8--8--8--X-X-|-10-10-10-10-10-
|-12/10-10-10-10-10-X-X-|-12/10-10-10-10-10-X-X-|-12-12-12-12-12-
|-12/9--9--9--9--9--X-X-|-12/9--9--9--9--9--X-X-|-12-12-12-12-12-
|-----------------------|-----------------------|----------------
|-----------------------|-----------------------|----------------
|-----------------------|-----------------------|----------------



10-10-10-|------------------------------------------------------|
12-12-12-|------------------------------------------------------|
12-12-12-|-10-10-10-10-9--9--9~~~-------------------------------|
---------|-10-10-10-10-11-11-11~~-------------------------------|
---------|-12-12-12-12-12-12-12~~-------------------------------|
---------|------------------------------------------------------|

 

That’s about all for now. I hope that I’ve encouraged you to try something new in your playing. Thanks for checking out the column.

Please e-mail any comments, corrections, etc. to mikeoppenheim@hotmail.com

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