Triad Chord Inversions

Sure, playing Wonderwall and Brown Eyed Girl for the nine millionth time is cool, or you can actually learn chord inversions and not be stuck in “Cowboy Chord” land forever. 

What are “Cowboy Chords” you ask?  Chords that are in root position at the bottom of the fretboard.  G, C, D, Am, Em….you know…also those basic chords you learn when you are first starting off that every person who plays guitar at open mic knows. They are usually the extent of every country singer’s knowledge of chords, which is why they are called “Cowboy Chords”.  They are the bare minimum to get by when you are playing and singing. 

How do you get out of being stuck there? Chord inversions. 

Most of the time when you learn a chord you learn it in root position. This means the root of the chord is the lowest note that you play.  So a root position C chord would have the note “C” at the bottom of it.  A root position G chord would have a “G” note as the lowest note.  

When a bat is taking a nap in a cave, it is inverted.  When you play an inverted chord, you are taking the notes and flipping them upside down in a way, like the sleeping bat. 

A root position C major chord would have these notes – C, E, G. 

A first inversion C major chord would have these notes – E, G, C. 

A second inversion C major chord would have these notes – G, C, E. 

See what happens?  

C, E, G gets inverted.  You skip the C and start with E. 

If were looking at the notes of a C chord on a piano they would be laid out like this:

C, E, G, C, E, G, C, E, G, C, E, G, C, E, G….this pattern just repeats over and over. 

A root position C starts on the C.  A first inversion C starts on E. A second inversion starts on G. 

 

Root position

C, E, G, C, E, G, C, E, G, C, E, G, C, E, G, C, E, G, C, E, G, C, E, G, 

First Inversion

C, E, G, C, E, G, C, E, G, C, E, G, C, E, G, C, E, G, C, E, G, C, E, G, 

Second Inversion 

C, E, G, C, E, G, C, E, G, C, E, G, C, E, G, C, E, G, C, E, G, C, E, G,