How Major Chords are Built on Guitar Part 2

Guitar Chord Theory: How to Build a Major Chord Part 2

In our previous post, we looked at the formula for building a major chord. Here’s the link in case you missed it: How Major Chords are Built on Guitar Part 1.

Now that you know how major chords are built, we will look at how to apply the formulas to actual chord fingerings on the guitar.

Major chords are built by taking the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes from the major scale.


C Major Scale:


1 2 3 4 5 6 7

The notes in a C major chord are C-E-G.

To play the C major chord all you do is locate the notes C-E-G on the fretboard.

C major triads over entire fretboard
As you can see, there are many C’s, E’s and G’s on the neck.
You can play any combination of the notes C-E-G, and you will have a C major chord. 
You may double and even triple the notes as needed.
Here are some ways you can play a C major triad…
C major triads on strings 6-4
Above you will see the C major triads played on strings 6-5-4.
Now here is how to play C major on strings 5-4-3.
C major triads on strings 5-3
Below is C major played on strings 4-3-2.
C major triads on strings 4-2
Now here is C major played on strings 3-2-1.
C major triads on strings 3-1

Usually when you play guitar, you will want to use chords that use more than three strings. This means that some chord tones would need to be doubled or even tripled.

Below you will see some common chord voicings for C major. The first voicing is a C major barre chord that has two root notes, two 5ths and one 3rd. The next voicing, which uses some open strings, consists of two root notes (C), two 3rds (E) and one 5th (G). The third voicing shown below is played on the eighth fret. This C major barre chord has three root notes, two 5ths and one 3rd.

C major voicings
Have fun with these voicings and create some of your own.
Knowing multiple voicings for a chord will give you some easy ways to add variety to your rhythm guitar playing.


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