Major Chord Theory

Learning major chords is the first part of learning chord theory. To fully understand the formation of major chords, you need to be familiar with the notes on the fretboard, as well as major scales. If you are lacking in those areas, it’ll be best to review them first, otherwise you won’t understand the video.

Let’s define what a major triad is; a triad are 3 notes either played together. A major triad is played using the 1st (root) + 3rd + 5th notes of a major scale.

TIP: You can find the 3rd and 5th notes in the scale by count up FOUR semi-tones to arrive at the 3rd, and then count up THREE semi-tones to arrive at the final note in the major chord, the 5th degree of the major scale.

Here are a couple of examples on how you’ll use the above to form major chords:

  • To form an E major chord, first count out the E major scale, which is E-F#-G#-A-B-C#-D#-E. The first, third, and fifth notes are E-G#-B, which is our E major chord.
  • To form an F# Major chord, first examine the F# major scale which is F#-G#-A#-B-C#-D#-E#-F#. The first, third, and fifth notes are F#-A#-C#, which is our F# major chord.

Learn Notes on the Fretboard

There’s no reason to study the fretboard until after you’ve learned the very basics, like chords, a few barre chords, picking, strumming and easy songs. But once you do, your level of playing will start advancing in giant leaps.

Understanding the notes around the fretboard and their relation to 1 another is your initial step in studying guitar theory. Once you are familiar with the notes, studying to form chords, playing scale shapes, and even writing music will seem easy and effortless. Of course it takes time, patience, and lots of studying, so lets just stick to the notes around the fretboard for now.

The initial step in learning the fretboard is to remember the notes along strings five and six. Focus on the natural notes, so leave out the flats and sharps for now. The natural notes are the letters A thru G and usually occur in alphabetical order. The second step would be to fill the gaps with sharps and flats. Sharp (#) indicates 1 fret higher while flat (b) indicates 1 fret lower.

Watch the video, and download this free fretboard training software if you want an interactive studying experience as well.

Notes on the fretboard.
Notes on the fretboard (Click to view larger image).