Practicing Triads in All 12 Keys

Practicing Triads in All 12 Keys

This is a continuation of free lesson blogs:

Major Triads in C on strings 123
Major Triads in C on strings 234.
Minor Triads in C on strings 123
Minor Triads in C on strings 234

You want to review and first learn the C, F, G and Am, Dm and Em triads. You can find the shapes for all these chords in the above blogs.

As discussed in the above blogs, one of the better ways to practice these triads, is over the following 12-bar blues form.

C | F | C | C |
F | F | C | C |
G | F | C | G

Here’s what you do:

In bar 1: play 2 different C chords, 2 beats each, downstrokes only.
In bar 2: play 2 different F chords, 2 beats each, downstrokes only.
In bar 3: play 2 different C chords, 2 beats each, downstrokes only.
In bar 3: play 2 different C chords, 2 beats each, downstrokes only.
In bar 5: play 2 different F chords, 2 beats each, downstrokes only.
In bar 6: play 2 different F chords, 2 beats each, downstrokes only.
… and so on.

Then you want to do the same drill to master all the minor chords.
Blues in Am:

||: Am | Dm | Am | Am |
Dm | Dm | Am | Am |
Em | Dm | Am | Em :||

Here’s what you do:

In bar 1: play 2 different Am chords, 2 beats each, downstrokes only.
In bar 2: play 2 different Dm chords, 2 beats each, downstrokes only.
In bar 3: play 2 different Am chords, 2 beats each, downstrokes only.
In bar 3: play 2 different Am chords, 2 beats each, downstrokes only.
In bar 5: play 2 different Dm chords, 2 beats each, downstrokes only.
In bar 6: play 2 different Dm chords, 2 beats each, downstrokes only.
… and so on.

This is going to be challenging at first, but this is a good drill to really nail down these chords.

Once you master all the above chords: do that blues drill in all 12 keys, up the circle of 4ths.

Here’s the circle of 4ths (go counter clock wise for 4ths):

circle-4ths

Practicing this in all 12 keys might seem like a huge amount of work, but there is actually something really cool about practicing the triads in a blues form, moving from key to key up circle of 4ths.

You only have 1 new chord at a time to focus on, and will practice 2 chords from the previous key in the new key.

Let me show you:

  1. Start with the key of C, the 3 chords are: C, F and G
  2. The key up a 4th is the key of F: the 3 chords are: F, Bb and C (you had a C and an F chord in the previous key, the only new chord is Bb). The new Bb chord is not too hard to memorize: it’s all the C chords down 2 frets.
  3. The key up a 4th is the key of Bb: the 3 chords are: Bb, Eb and F (you had an F and a Bb chord in the previous key, only new chord is Eb). The new Eb chord is not too hard to memorize: it’s all the F chords (from the previous 2 keys) down 2 frets.
  4. The key up a 4th is the key of Eb: the 3 chords are: Eb, Ab and Bb (you had an Eb and a Bb chord in the previous key, only new chord is Ab). The new Ab chord is not too hard to memorize: it’s all the Bb chords (from the previous 2 keys) down 2 frets.
  5. and so on.

As you see: this is a very structured exercise, with lots of repetition of the same chords from key to key, and only 1 new chord at a time to focus on.
With that much structure, in no time at all, you’ll have all triads down in all 12 keys.

You then want to do the same with the minor chords.

You could do 4 keys a day major and 4 keys a day minor on strings 123 then on strings 234
The following day you do the next 4 major and 4 minor keys on 123 then on 234
After 3 days finished all 12 major and minor keys on both stringsets, then you start over again.

When you can do all this pretty well, start practicing it with a metronome.
Work it up slowly but gradually to 145bpm.
When you can play major and minor triads in the blues form, all 12 keys at that tempo, you don’t have to think anymore: you really have your triads memorized.

Hit me up anytime at [email protected] if you would like me to send you backing tracks of the above chord progression, if you have any questions, or if you would like to book a lesson.
You’re on your way to becoming a great guitar player.
Have fun! 🙂

Conclusion

Keep me informed on your progress. You can hit me up in the comments section below.
If you like this blog: give it a rating and feel free to also give me any feedback.
I believe everything can always be improved. I’d gladly implement your suggestions and ideas in this blog or the next.

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