How to play and use the major chord
By far, the major chord or major triad is the most used type of chords in popular music. They carry an upbeat, hopeful, full sound. They lack any hint of mystery, sadness, fear, funkiness or anything of the like.
Here’s a secret. By learning major triads on the guitar fretboard in a very systematic and logical way, you will build a foundation that will make it really easy to learn pretty much any other chord there is to know.
But in the meantime, if you haven’t already, go to the Beginner Section and look at the open chord page there. It shows you some great pictures and audio on how to play major chords.
We are able to figure out the position of every major chord based on our intervals and our root note. The root note is what defines the chord. So, a C chord will have C as the root, B chord has B and so on. Very simple.
The major chord family
The major chord family can consist of many chords. The main thing is that the chord has a major 3rd in it. This is what makes it a major chord. But as you will see below, there can be many, many chords that belong in the major category.
What these charts do is take the basic 5 positions for each of the chords and gives you one way of playing them in order to cover the entire fretboard. If you simply learn these you’ll have an incredible array of chords and a very strong foundation to be able to nail any chord at any pace up the neck
The structure of the chord is also simple.
The major chord formula is:
1 – 3 – 5
So the root is 1, it tells you what chord letter to assign like A, B, C, D , E, F or G.
- The 3 is a major third above that:
- A = C#
B = D#
C = E
D = F#
E = G#
F = A
G = B
- And the 5 is a perfect fifth above 1:
- A = E
B = F#
C = G
D = A
E = B
F = C
G = D
- So together the Major Chords are as follows:
Major Chord Tonic 3rd 5th A A C# E B B D# F# C C E G D D F# A E E G# B F F A C G G B D
|A Major Chords|
|B Major Chords|
|C Major Chords|
|D Major Chords|
|E Major Chords|
|F Major Chords|
|G Major Chords|
So there you go, there are many positions for each of the major chords. Next we’ll look at the minor chords and their, structure, feel and positions.
The chart below shows the pattern for all of the tonics (1) – the 3rds and the 5ths on the fretboard.
TAN= the tonic or 1
BLUE= the 3rd
RED= the fifth
If you can find the tonic you can find the distance from the 3rd and 5th. So any combination of these 3 notes on the fretboard creates a major chord for that tonic. Look at the chart and try to figure out as many possible fingerings for a major chord as you can. If you look at the chord charts above, you see them in the chart below.