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Movable Triad Positions on the First Three Strings, for Guitar

December 14, 2012

There are 3 very simple chord positions that open up a world of fancy sounding (and fancy looking) flatpicking.  The D-position, the F-position and the Bb position.  With these three “SHAPES” we can make thousands of fancy moves and they work for every song in the whole world.  The trick is memorizing what chord D becomes when its scooted up 2 frets.  That’s easy it’s E!  F becomes G when its scooted up 2 frets and Bb becomes C when its scooted up 2 frets.  So if you learn what chord they become at every fret, a whole world opens up.

But before we go any farther, read the title of this article again.  “Triad Positions on the First three Strings.”  What we are learning here are soloing concepts that take place on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd strings.  In other words, we won’t be strumming a chord on all 6 strings.

Another important thing in this lesson is that we will be cross-picking.  You can strum these positions as a chord or you can cross-pick these positions as individual notes known as arpeggios, and either way, they sound great!

We’re going to learn 2 exercises.  The first is a typical one-four-five chord progression in C covering 2 octaves. The second is this same exercise using the chord progression to Salty Dog Blues.

The procedure is simple.  If you know the 3 chord “SHAPES” and the crosspicking pattern which is 3-2-1-2,  then all you do is grab the chord at the correct fret, and play the pattern of 3rd string, 2nd string, 1st string,  2nd string, then move on to the next position.

For Salty Dog Blues, you play the F-position at the 3rd fret, D-position at the 4th fret, F-position at the 5th fret, Bb-position at the 5th fret etc.  What you have actually played is G, E, A, D, but in inversions that gradually move upward on the first 3 strings.  It’s easy!

After you’ve learned both exercises, see if you can apply the concepts to other songs.  Eventually you will know that the F position at the 8th fret is C and the D position at the 7th fret is F.  It wouldn’t be much fun to sit down and memorize these positions from a chart, but learning the positions in songs and chord progressions is a lot of fun and makes more musical sense.


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  1. Is this site still being maintain. I really like the information here and was interested in more info, or video’s or courses.

    • thanks les. yes it is maintained. you can check the site for our products. i don’t know when i will write my next blog. i get mixed up with web procedures.

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