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Mastering The Fretboard: Augmented Triads

In our previous two Mastering The Fretboard lessons we went over major triads and minor triads. If you haven’t checked out those I would highly suggest you go back and review those first!  Both of those lessons give a lot of insight to how this series of lessons works.

In this lesson we are going to go over augmented triads and discover how we can play these all over the fretboard. As mentioned in the earlier lessons, it’s incredibly important as a guitarist to be able to play these shapes all over the neck and understand how to play the root position, 1st inversion and 2nd inversion. It will open up your playing and understanding of the guitar exponentially.

The formula for an augmented triad:

Formula: Root-3rd-#5

We are going to use the key of G for our examples, so using this formula, the notes in a G augmented triad would be: G-B-D#.

Let’s take a look at what an augmented triad looks like notated in root position, 1st inversion and 2nd inversion:

My method for mastering augmented triads:

My method is simple: play the root position triad and both the 1st and 2nd inversions on all possible sets of strings.

So what are the possible sets of strings? The first set is E (low)-A-D. The second set is A-D-G. The third set is D-G-B and the 4th set is G-B-E (high).

Let’s see what this looks like on the first set of strings:

Augmented triad 1

There are two things I want you to notice right away:

  1. Each position uses the exact same shape. All of the notes are the same in each inversion and the shape remains the same. This was not the case for the major and minor triads.
  2. Each note in the triad can be moved up a major 3rd to create the next inversion. Notice how each note relates to each other this way. This is of course why the shape remains the shape throughout each position.

Another thing to realize is an augmented triad is related most closely to a major triad.  The only difference is the 5th is sharped.  If you go back and look at your major triads it can be quite enlightening to see how they morph into one another.

Let’s look at the next set of strings:

Augmented triad 2

Again, this is the exact same shape as the previous set of strings and it remains the same throughout each position. Makes memorizing them fairly easy!

Here’s the next set of strings:

Augmented triad 3

So now we have changed shapes due to us adding the B string into the mix, but the rule remains the same: same shape move-able up in major 3rd’s.

Here is the last set of strings:

Augmented triad 4

How to practice these:

  • Practice the shapes on each set of strings slowly and make sure you can play them forwards and backwards.
  • Once you feel comfortable with one set of strings move onto the next.
  • Repetition is key and be able to play all sets of strings consecutively forwards and backwards.
  • Ultimately, if you want to master these augmented triads you need to take them through all 12 keys. That is a huge undertaking, but if you take the time to do it you will really be opening up your knowledge of the fretboard!

In the next lesson we’ll move on and talk about diminished triads. Watch the blog often!

-Brent Vaartstra

To learn more about this author visit www.brentvaartstra.com

Brent Vaartstrahttp://www.brentvaartstra.com
Brent Vaartstra is a professional jazz guitarist and educator living in New York City. He is the head blogger and podcast host for learnjazzstandards.com which he owns and operates. He actively performs around the New York metropolitan area and is the author of the Hal Leonard publication "Visual Improvisation for Jazz Guitar." He's also the host of the music entrepreneurship podcast "Passive Income Musician."

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