Triad exercises using A, D, & E

Lesson #228 • Mar 29, 2019

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Editor’s notes

Hey friends — here’s three quick trio of exercises you can play, all of which are using triads for the chords of A, D, and E. Focused only on the thinnest 3 strings, I quite enjoy exploring how I can put these mini chord shapes together to come up with something fun. Tabs for each exercise are in the attached PDF, and be sure to check out the chord charts I’ve included in order to grok how these triad shapes can in fact be used up & down the fretboard. I hope you enjoy!

Here’s video timestamps, in case you want to jump ahead:

  • 0:00 Playthrough & Greeting
  • 1:40 Exercise #1
  • 6:41 Exercise #2
  • 9:09 Exercise #3

Exercise #1

Inspired by “Classy Girls” by The Lumineers.

E ||––––––––9–––––––––––|––––––––9–––––––––––|–––––––10–––––––––––|–––––––10–––––––––––|–
B ||–––10–––––––10–––10–|–––10–––––––10–––10–|–––10–––––––10––10––|–––10–––––––10––10––|–
G ||–9––––9––––––––9––––|–9––––9––––––––9––––|–11––11–––––––11––––|–11––11–––––––11––––|–
D ||––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––|–
A ||––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––|–
E ||––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––|–
     A                                         D                      

E –|–––––––12–––––––––––|–––––––10–––––––––––|––––––––9–––––––––––|––––––––9–––––––––––||
B –|–––9––––––––9–––9–––|–––10–––––––10––10––|–––10–––––––10–––10–|–––10–––––––10–––10–||
G –|–9–––9––––––––9–––––|–11––11–––––––11––––|–9––––9––––––––9––––|–9––––9––––––––9––––||
D –|––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––||
A –|––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––||
E –|––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––||
     E                    D                    A

Exercise #2

Inspired by “The First Cut is the Deepest” by Cat Stevens.

E ||–––––––9–––––|––––––7––––|––––––5––––|––––––7––––||
B ||––––10–––10––|––––9–––9––|––––7–––7––|––––9–––9––||
G ||––9––––––––––|––9––––––––|––7––––––––|––9––––––––||
D ||–––––––––––––|–––––––––––|–––––––––––|–––––––––––||
A ||–––––––––––––|–––––––––––|–––––––––––|–––––––––––||
E ||–––––––––––––|–––––––––––|–––––––––––|–––––––––––||
      A             E           D           E

Exercise #3

Inspired by “Jack and Diane” by John Mellencamp. Note, on this one you have some flourish notes that are added to the base triads (marked with a *). I always play these with my left pinky.

E ||––5–––5–5–––7–––5––|––4–––4–4–4–––4–4––|––2–––2–2–––4––5–4––|–
B ||––5–––5–5–––5–––5––|––5–––5–5–5–––5–5––|––3–––3–3–––5––5–5––|–
G ||––6–––6–6–––6–––6––|––4–––4–4–4–––4–4––|––2–––2–2–––4––4–4––|–
D ||–––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––|–
A ||–––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––|–
E ||–––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––|–
      A         *         E                   D         E  *

E –|––5–––5–5–––7–––5––|––4–––4–4–4–––4–4––|––2–––4–––5––5–5––5–||
B –|––5–––5–5–––5–––5––|––5–––5–5–5–––5–5––|––3–––5–––5––5–5––5–||
G –|––6–––6–6–––6–––6––|––4–––4–4–4–––4–4––|––2–––4–––6––6–6––6–||
D –|–––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––||
A –|–––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––||
E –|–––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––||
      A         *         E                   D   E   A

Chord shapes for exercise #1

For the A, you don’t need to barre the 9th fret (as I show here). But, I find it helpful to be able to do this – so I’ll practice using that technique when playing this shape. If you don’t want to barre, just use your normal D-major xx0232 left-hand finger positions (moved up to the 9th & 10th frets).

E –––9––  <= left index (barred)    E ––10––  <= left index (barred)    E ––12––  <= left pinky
B ––10––  <= left middle            B ––10––  <= left index (barred)    B ––9–––  <= left index (barred)
G –––9––  <= left index (barred)    G ––11––  <= left middle            G ––9–––  <= left index (barred)
D ––––––                            D ––––––                            D ––––––                        
A ––––––                            A ––––––                            A ––––––                        
E ––––––                            E ––––––                            E ––––––                        
    A                                   D                                   E

Chord shapes for exercise #2

As I show in the video, if you want to be advanced you can keep your index finger barred (thinnest 3 strings) for all of these chords. It’s a bit tougher to learn, but again - I think it makes the transitions a bit easier if you can get a hang of it.

E –––9––  <= left index (barred)    E ––7––  <= left index    E ––5––  <= left index
B ––10––  <= left middle            B ––9––  <= left pinky    B ––7––  <= left pinky
G –––9––  <= left index (barred)    G ––9––  <= left ring     G ––7––  <= left ring
D ––––––                            D –––––                   D –––––                        
A ––––––                            A –––––                   A –––––                        
E ––––––                            E –––––                   E –––––                        
    A                                   E                         D

Chord shapes for exercise #3

Same old stuff! Notice how all these shapes have already been taught via the prior two exercises.

E ––5––  <= left index (barred)    E ––4––  <= left index (barred)    E ––2––  <= left index (barred)      
B ––5––  <= left index (barred)    B ––5––  <= left middle            B ––3––  <= left middle            
G ––6––  <= left middle            G ––4––  <= left index (barred)    G ––2––  <= left index (barred)    
D –––––                            D –––––                            D –––––                            
A –––––                            A –––––                            A –––––                            
E –––––                            E –––––                            E –––––                            
    A                                  E                                  D

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