Ignoring octaves, every note in a on the guitar shows up in many different places. I'd like to practice all the achievable three note chords on the guitar so that I can move my chord progressions up and down and across the neck better.

By "three note chords", I mean major, minor, dominant and aug/dim together with any color notes (7, 9, 11, 13). The root can be implied and the chords can be in any voicing.

I'm interested in the three note chords because they give the richest tone while still playable at two chords per bar at 120bpm, which is where I usually live.

Three note chords also give me the ability to comprehend at performance tempo what I'm doing and where I can go. If I play grips of more than three notes then I'm just playing grips and sequences of grips, which doesn't always work for the kind of improvisation I do with my band.

What I currently do is try to construct new voicings during practice time and then play the voicings as harmonized scales at one or more positions. But I need a systematic way to string the chord voicings and substitutions at a single position and all the possible positions along the guitar neck.

Are there any Spaced Repetition Systems or other automated tools out there that I could use for drilling on all the three note chords possible for particular chord progressions such as I-IV-V, ii-V, ii-I, etc.?

I'm already familiar with the Freddy Green system but I'd like to work on new grips.

  • Are you confining this to major and minor triads? By definition, any combination of two or more notes is a chord. – American Luke May 13 '14 at 0:40
  • Do you have an iOS device? If so, I highly recommend Guitar Toolkit for learning scales and chords. If not, please elaborate on what you mean by “automated tools.” – Bradd Szonye May 13 '14 at 3:26
  • 2
    @AmericanLuke - most definitions apply three or more notes to constitute a chord. Two notes make an interval.A 'power chord' is a 5th interval, and things like a jazz 3rd and 7th together is an implied chord, usually with the missing note/s supplied by another player.Two note 'chords' are not easy to name, apart from the now ubiquitous 5th chord, known mainly to electric guitarists. – Tim May 13 '14 at 7:11
  • Answerers: know that you can use jTab's custom chord syntax. – luser droog May 14 '14 at 20:04
  • What is "playing grips?" – Michael Curtis Aug 13 '20 at 15:52

If you have an iOS device, I highly recommend the Guitar Toolkit app from Agile Partners. It can show you all common chords in all neck positions in any tuning. You can also “strum” or “pluck” the screen to hear what the notes are supposed to sound like. Working in reverse, you can tap frets on the screen to find out which chords they belong to.

The app has a similar feature for learning scales in different neck positions, or seeing how scales correspond to chords. Unfortunately, it does not appear to have three-note-per-string scale charts, although it’s easy enough to figure them out by showing key notes over the entire fretboard.

Finally, the app also has a built-in tuner and metronome. It’s a great reference and practice resource in general, not just a chord chart.


Get a hold of "George Van Eps Guitar Method" - buy it, find it on the interweb thing, check out triad exercises on ewetube. It is the ultimate foundation guide for triads that will open up the fretboard and unlock your hidden potential, the enabler to show music aficionados why you are on this planet.

  • Unfortunately, it's just in notation, not tab. I'd like both because I think about harmony in notation but I think tab when I perform. Moreover, you don't really need all 12 keys tabbed for guitar, just a sufficiency that you slide around the neck. Also Van Eps' notation of broken string sets is rather confusing. – pro Apr 23 '19 at 21:34

Here are a few resources that might help with your quest, though I'm not sure it's the right quest to be on but that's your choice.

  1. Chord Chemistry by Ted Greene

  2. Mel Bay's Rhythm Method Guitar Chord System

  3. Three-Note Voicings and Beyond by Randy Vincent

The last one might be more aligned with your question. It covers many 3 note chord forms that fit into other larger chord structures and it is very "guitar-centric" with box diagrams etc. Ted Greene's book is the most comprehensive out there, and it covers the idea of polychords, how larger chords are broken into sets of triads overlapped. This knowledge helps in identifying simple patterns in progressions.

There are a ton of other great guitar method books that contain chord exercises in them. Two that come to mind are Complete Guitar Method by Mike Christensen (Mel Bay series), and William Levitt's books vol 1, 2, and 3. But these are not chord centric. I hope that helps.

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