Having Fun With Triads (Open D and Dm Patterns)

Seriously – if you’re playing along with another guitar player – this lesson will help you find something different to play. Puh-lease don’t play exactly the same thing – unless you’re specifically trying to play in unison!

Triads are cool because once you get the hang of them, you can easily throw them in anywhere to spice up your playing. Additionally, they are in a higher register than the open chords, so they’ll cut through the noise of the band without turning up your volume.

In this particular video the triads I showed are based on the open D and open Dm chord patterns. For example:

6-5-4-3-2-1 (String number)
X-X-0-2-3-2 (D)
X-X-0-2-3-1 (Dm)

Where X means you don’t play that string, and numbers indicate the fret position. As I move these chords up the fretboard, I simply stop playing the 4th string as well.

Watch Major Triads on Youtube

Leave a Reply 27 comments

Walt - December 14, 2009 Reply

This is why I won`t Buy OnLine Lessons………. The things Stop
and they Won`t Start Up again……!!!

Wal of the `RAPIDS`–`CEDAR` that is…………..

carl - February 14, 2010 Reply

really good lesson in blues could you show us where to improvise on the neck with regards to each chord change

Jonathan Boettcher - February 19, 2010 Reply

Hi Carl,

You can stay in the same scale throughout all the chord changes if you want – say the pentatonic minor is great for that. If you’re getting bored of doing that, yes, you can move around a lot more, but its not really necessary.

Here’s the link to all the lessons I’ve done so far on improvising. I think you’ll find them useful:

Jim V - February 24, 2010 Reply

Great lesson Jonathan. Another light bulb just lit up for me πŸ™‚


paul - April 24, 2010 Reply

Thanks, Johnathon. Another link to connecting the dots. This has been helpful in learning these triads and how to use them.

Olin - May 9, 2010 Reply


I must say, you are the best teacher I’ve found on the web.

You really keep things simple, yet show so much about playing.

I’ve learned more from watching your videos than I ever did from any

other sources.

I’m finally beginning to get an understanding of “how things work”.

Thanks so much fer doin’ what you be doin’


Walt - May 10, 2010 Reply

You give real good lessons, and have a good attitude… I like
that… I don`t mean to be mean…But your fingers are chubby and
I can`t see clearly what string they are on…….

Sorry Walt

Wal of the `Rapids` `Cedar` that is……………

Jonathan Boettcher - May 10, 2010 Reply

Haha – chubby fingers eh? Ok, I can live with that. πŸ™‚

The other issue is that my acoustic is a 3/4 size one, so the neck is even narrower than normal… along with my chubby fingers it does make this a tad difficult.

Walt - May 10, 2010 Reply

John, you`re a Good Man, Chubby Fingers and All…..KEEP UP the
Good Work…Because your lessons are Really Good…And Thank You

Wal of the`RAPIDS` `CEDAR`that is………….

steve - June 11, 2010 Reply

keep up the good work jonathan.i,ve seen playing a while
and your method of teaching is ,”GREAT”.

Olive - June 16, 2010 Reply

Just for the record, Jonathan, you don’t have chubby fingers; they look quite normal to me! With that size guitar my fingers are too big also for someone else to see clearly.

John - August 18, 2010 Reply

Great lesson! keep up the good work.

alan - August 30, 2010 Reply

This was a very good lesson. Could you add tabs to your lessons? I like to print out the tab to study on papaer what I see in the video.
Thanks, alan

frank - September 28, 2010 Reply

Hi Jonathan.
As usual with all your lessons I find them very informative.
Thanks Frank.

x-ray - November 30, 2010 Reply

very nice, I liked how it had a”YES,(the band), and you and I(the song), flavor to it.” Gives me a new direction thanks buddy…

Carlos - December 29, 2010 Reply

Hey Jonathan, your lessons are great but no offense, talking alot can be kind of boring so, if you could just cut to the point of the lesson of what your teaching then that would be helpful to alot to people who are starting

    Elvid Le - August 9, 2014 Reply

    That’s cool Carlos but some of us beginners need the way Jonathan talks to us and encourages us. Sorry just sayin…

Rick - April 22, 2011 Reply

Awesome lesson, man… Keep up the good work!

Saul Good - May 21, 2011 Reply

Yeah, Jonathan… Chubby fingers AND you talk too much! (I’m new to the site so I’m reading older comments…) Oh yeah, and too much guitar and too many explanations…lol…
Just a note to say ‘hi’, and that I’m enjoying (and profiting from) your lessons and explanations of the basics.
I’ve been abusing my guitar for 40 (!) years, off and on, and am once again treating the music seriously. I play left-handed, upside down and backwards, and for years I told myself that I couldn’t learn from anyone else because of that ‘impairment’. Albert King kept telling me different, but I spent a lot of my time fighting. Now I’m back at it and I thank you for your often insightful yet simple lessons that ANYONE can grab hold of. Thanks so much!

Dustin - June 26, 2011 Reply

just wanted to say it’s great learning stuff from you.You just seem to make it easier to learn.Thanks again

Tommy - November 15, 2011 Reply

Awesome! You really explain things well! I’ve actually used this method on a song that uses C G and D7 chords, using ‘simple’ C and ‘simple’ G chords (strumming only G B and high E strings in the open or 1st position). I didn’t know about triads at the time, but it sounded cool. I actually thought I was ‘cheating’ by playing the song that way, but now I know I was using triads! Thanks!

E Geno - October 18, 2012 Reply

Love your lessons, especially this one , but PLEASE give us some tabs to print out and practic with.Β Β  Thanks.

Joseph Kittilson - May 6, 2013 Reply

I can’t access any of the lessons here. I can only access the comments. what is going wrong?

    Jonathan Boettcher - May 6, 2013 Reply

    Hi Joseph, are you using Internet Explorer? I’ve found that the older versions of IE have that problem, but if you upgrade it should
    fix it, or else use Mozilla FireFox or Google Chrome or another browser for the time being; we’re working on getting that fixed.

Elvid Le - August 9, 2014 Reply

Hey Jonathan now this I get! Well I have used triads for a while now, not cause I play much with others, but because of my disability and limited use of my left hand. It started when I discovered I wasn’t going to be able to form an open G chord in the common way. I discovered that playing the bottom 3 strings with the high E fretted on the third fret gave me GBG it’s not very full sounding, but when another is playing open G it does sound ok. Since then I have experimented with many different chords as triads. Now the question. Is there a simpler way to play a B chord? It’s the only chord I have not found a triad for. Thanks.

    Jonathan Boettcher - August 11, 2014 Reply

    Hey Elvid, yes, you can play all the major and minor chords using triads off the top three strings. B major would be like this: xxx877, just like the G you mentioned, but moved up to the 7th fret.

    B minor would be xxx777.

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