Chris Eldridge

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Keep Me From Blowing Away

Basic Chord Theory

Chris Eldridge Lesson >

Keep Me From Blowing Away > Basic Chord Theory

This week we're going to talk about the basics of chord construction, a topic in which every guitar player should have a fundamental working knowledge. I think this is an important topic. Much of this week's lesson takes place on a dry erase board. Next week we'll apply what we learned to the guitar.




Topics and/or subjects covered in this lesson:
Chris Eldridge
Keep Me From Blowing Away
Linda Ronstadt
The Seldom Scene
Chord Theory

Print Print Chords & Tab

Loop 0:00 Introduction to Chord Theory

Loop 1:14 Basic Chord Theory

Loop 14:03 Closing Thoughts






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jed Apr 12, 2016


Thank you for the study material. Getting these C major triad shapes under my fingers will take awhile.

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Apr 11, 2016

MarkB, Jed, and Judson,

There are 9 different triad shapes you will need to learn, but the good news is that you probably already know most of them. Here are the 3 different triad shapes for C major on the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st strings:

$3.0.$2.1.$1.0 $3.5.$2.5.$1.3 $3.9.$2.8.$1.8

If you play these, you are playing different inversions of a C major triad (aka a C major chord). By different inversion I mean that you are playing the same 3 notes -- C E and G -- in different stacks. In the first one the notes from the bottom up are G C E; in the second they are C E G; in the third they are E G C.

Here are the C major shapes on the 4nd, 3rd and 2th strings:

$4.2.$3.0.$2.1 $4.5.$3.5.$2.5 $4.10.$3.9.$2.8

Here they are on the 5th, 4th and 3rd strings:

$5.3.$4.2.$3.0 $5.7.$4.5.$3.5 $5.10.$4.10.$3.9

Each of those shapes I just showed you is physically unique, but they are all using the same notes. Play each of them and notice where the root is in each shape. If you can identify the root you will be ahead of the game for when we start learning how to move these around into different keys.

Jed, whatever exercises you're doing on the top strings will work on the other sets of strings now that you have these shapes. I'll post another lesson in the coming weeks detailing how I would go about learning to apply these in different keys and different progressions. Too big a topic to cover in the comments!

judson Apr 03, 2016

Thanks Chris, great to hear it in another's words. The mathematician in me kinda cringes when trying to decipher what looks like a fraction or ratio into a playing pattern... maybe, someone like myself should have learned music notation using different symbols than A thru F... I always wonder where the other 19 notes are to get to Z... but anyhey the sharps and flats make sense in way but not really... I'm gonna have to watch this again because I know I missed alot... 

MarkB Apr 01, 2016

Thanks Chris, and I did have an understanding of that already, but it is always good to hear it a different way. I would like to have the practical knowledge of how you are free to move around (as you did at the end of the lesson) to keep the same chords. As you said, knowledge of triads, where they are located, and how it opens it up. How do you get that practical knowledge? Perhaps your lessons will take us there and I hope it does, but this feature of moving around (how you can without too much thinking about it) with more experienced players always has me in envy.

Kip Marchetti
Kip Marchetti Apr 01, 2016

Oh man ... just the words "music theory" kind of caused a little panic attack scenario and then the dry erase board ... I thought I was out until you immediately dropped the pen and I knew I'd make it through ... ha ha ... just kidding. On a serious note ... it must be important if YOU say it is which means I'll have to watch the lesson a couple of times and experiment with the concepts. I've never taken a lesson in my life and never really wanted to know so therefore I never really progressed the way I should have over a lifetime of fooling around with my guitar. Now that I am taking lessons from you ... I consider Sonic Junction taking lessons ... I feel like I want to know everything I can. So if I have questions ... I'll be back. As always, thank you.

jed Apr 01, 2016

Would you suggest an exercise regime that focuses on transposing chord progressions as triads across keys and the fingerboard? I have some exercises for the top three strings using fingerings based on the A, D, and F shapes, but exercises that systematically cover all six strings have eluded me. The goal is to absorb this capability into muscle memory.

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