If you want to learn to recognise triad chords on guitar, you’ll need to use a combination of standard triad chord ear training and specific guitar ear training exercises.

Triad chord ear training

There are four main types of triad chord: major, minor, augmented and diminished. Start out by making sure you’re solid on major versus minor, and then introduce the other two triad types.

Once you’re familiar with the characteristic sound of each type of triad, you can improve your chord skills by working with triad inversions, so that you can recognise not only the type of chord, but also which inversion you’re hearing, all by ear.

→ Learn how to do triad chord ear training.

Guitar chord ear training

Once you have the basic listening skills for chords, it’s time to connect them with your guitar. This involves working on similar triad chord recognition exercises, but using your instrument to play the chords (or recordings of guitar triad chords).

You can learn about triad shapes on guitar, and then practice by yourself or ideally with a friend, to develop and test your ability to recognise triads when played on guitar.

For example:

  • Learn the shapes for guitar minor triads and major triads and spend some time playing each, alternating back and forth.
  • Record yourself playing minor and major triads on guitar and use that as a test track later.
  • Take turns with a friend testing your ability to recognise major vs minor.
  • Learn about the different triad inversions on guitar, and introduce these to your guitar ear training too.

When you’ve mastered guitar triads and inversions you can move on to more complex guitar ear training such as recognising which fingering of a chord is being played (e.g. is that an open C chord or the barred version on the 3rd fret?) or identifying seventh chords by ear.

→ Learn more about guitar ear training

Similar questions answered on this page:

  • How can I recognise triad chords (guitar)?
  • What do guitar triads and inversions sound like?
  • How do you do guitar ear training for triad chords?
  • Why should you learn guitar chords/triads by ear?

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