What is a chord?

A chord is formed by a succession of 2 or more different tones built up in intervals of diatonic thirds from a given tone, or “Root”.

As an example, here are the tones of the chromatic scale starting from the “Root” of C:

Using the Major Scale as a reference, you can then build up from the “Root” C using these intervalic formulas to form triads, or 3-note chords:

Triad Formulas:

  • Major Triad = 1 3 5 = C
  • Minor Triad = 1 b3 5 = Cm
  • Diminished Triad = 1 b3 b5 = C°
  • Augmented Triad = 1 3 #5 = C+

Here is a quick animation to illustrate how to build a C Major Triad from the C Major Scale on the fretboard:


Building a triad from each note of any major scale yields the following chord types:

Major Key Diatonic Triads:

  • I = C
  • IIm = Dm
  • IIIm = Em
  • IV = F
  • V = G
  • VIm = Am
  • VII° = B°

Likewise, building a triad from each note of any minor scale yields the same chord types, but arranged from the 6th, or relative minor key:

Minor Key Diatonic Triads:

  • Im = Cm
  • II° = D°
  • III = Eb
  • IVm = Fm
  • Vm = Gm
  • VI = Ab
  • VII = Bb

By simply adding a fourth note to each triad, you’ll build 7th chords in the following sequences:

Major Key Diatonic Seventh Chords:

  • Imaj7 = C Maj7
  • IImin7 = D Min7
  • IIImin7 = E Min7
  • IVmaj7 = F Maj7
  • V7 = G7
  • VImin7 = A Min7
  • VIIm7b5 = B Min(b5)

Minor Key Diatonic Seventh Chords:

  • Imin7 = C Min7
  • IIm7b5 = D Min7(b5)
  • IIIMaj7 = Eb Maj7
  • IVm7 = F Min7
  • Vm7 = G Min7
  • VIMaj = Ab Maj7
  • VII7 = Bb7

⬇︎ Below you’ll find illustrations and analysis of all the important chord types across the fretboard.

Open Chords:

Barre Chords – Root 6:

Barre Chords – Root 5:

  • Major + Minor

Triads – Close:

  • Major
  • Minor
  • Augment
  • Diminished

Triads – Spread:

  • Major
  • Minor
  • Augmented
  • Diminished

Diatonic 7th Chords – Drop 2 Voicings:

  • Top 4 Strings
  • Middle 4 Strings
  • Bottom 4 Strings

Diatonic 7th Chords – Drop 3 Voicings:

  • Top 4 Strings
  • Middle 4 Strings
  • Bottom 4 Strings