ESSENTIAL THEORY
Before tackling this course, you should be comfortable with all the material from Essentials Part 1

Now that we have learnt the basics of scale construction, we will turn our attention to chord construction. In this set of lessons, we learn how to construct the 3 main triad chords - major, minor and diminished. Understanding how to build these chords will open up a new understanding of how we create chord shapes on the guitar, so it is a crucial piece of theory.

Summary: What is chord construction?

Chord construction is the theory behind all the chord shapes we play on the guitar. Have you ever wondered why this chord is a 'G' or that chord is an 'A minor'?! Well, now that we know how to construct a major scale, we can begin to understand and answer these questions! To put it simply, there is a formula that allows us to construct pretty much any chord, so all you need to know is the formula for a particular chord. We will be looking at the formulas for major, minor and diminished chords over the next 4 lessons.

Summary: The major chord

We will now be learning the major chord formula. We will be applying it to the E major scale and, therefore, be creating an E major chord. The formula is to take the 1st, 3rd & 5th notes from the major scale. This is made clearer by the diagram below:

Summary: Applying it!

We can see how this works in a practical setting by putting these 3 notes anywhere on the guitar to create an E major chord. The fretboard below shows a few examples of these three notes together on the guitar, all of which will be E major chords! Notice how 'Example 4' is the basic open chord shape for E major. You can see how it still has the 3 notes E, G# and B, but they are repeated to fill out all 6 strings.

Summary: The minor chord

We will now be learning the minor chord formula. We will be applying it to the E major scale and, therefore, be creating an E minor chord. The formula is to take the 1st, b3rd & 5th notes from the major scale. This is made clearer by the diagram below:

Summary: Applying it!

We can see how this works in a practical setting by putting these 3 notes anywhere on the guitar to create an E minor chord. The fretboard below shows a few examples of these three notes together on the guitar, all of which will be E major chords! Notice how 'Example 4' is your basic open chord shape for E minor. You can see how it still has the 3 notes E, G and B, but they are repeated to fill out all 6 strings.

Summary: The diminished chord

We will now be learning the diminished chord formula. We will be applying it to the E major scale and, therefore, be creating an E diminished chord. The formula is to take the 1st, b3rd & b5th notes from the major scale. This is made clearer by the diagram below:

Summary: Applying it!

We can see how this works in a practical setting by putting these 3 notes anywhere on the guitar to create an E diminished chord. The fretboard below shows a few examples of these three notes together on the guitar, all of which will be E diminished chords! Diminished chords don't tend to be used too much at a beginner level, so don't worry about memorising any of these shapes for now!

Summary: Test!

Time to put your new skills to the test! Dan will be asking you to create a few chords and you need to pause the video and try to create them for yourself before Dan shows you. Here is a bit of a checklist to help you remember some key points:

  • 1. What chord do we need to work out?
  • 2. Write out that major scale (for example, if we need E minor chord, we write out the E major scale)
  • 3. Apply the formula (Major = 1, 3, 5 / Minor = 1, b3, 5 / Diminished = 1, b3, b5 )
  • 4. Voila! We have the chord. Now you need to put those notes anywhere on the guitar to create the shape

All done?

Congratulations

You've now completed Theory Lab: Essential Theory and taken a huge step forwards in your guitar playing journey.

Feel free to bask in glory for a while, or go ahead and try another course if you're hungry for more.