In this guitar lesson here at Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat, we will be looking at different types of 9 chords on guitar. Superficially, we will be looking at major 9 chords, minor 9 chords and finally, dominant 9 chords. If you couldn’t establish this from the title of the guitar lesson then I’d leave now and get help. For everyone else, continue reading because this lesson is a sure way to boost your guitar chord vocabulary and the net result of that is you being a better guitar player!
If you’ve clicked on a guitar lesson relating to 9 chords, I must assume that you’re already familiar with the kind of material that naturally proceeds what is covered in this lesson such as how to read a guitar chord chart or how to actually perform a chord and also basic music theory knowledge. If you don’t have this knowledge, go away and obtain it and then come back to this later because this one is for the intermediate guitar player and up.
That’s all the introduction out of the way. Let’s learn some 9 chords on guitar!
How major, minor and dominant 9 chords are made
This isn’t a music theory-based lesson but I do feel it is important to have at least somewhat of an understanding about the tools you’re using so let’s learn what the chords in this guitar lesson actually are.
To do this, we will work backwards and start with what gives the chords their unique names and that’s the number 9. What does that 9 actually mean? It’s really quite simple to be honest and the best way to explain it is with an example.
Here is the C major scale with the degrees of the scale labelled 1 through 8.
C(!) D(2) E(3) F(4) G(5) A(6) B(7)
What happens next? We go into the next “octave”. The notes loop, at a higher pitch. When this happens, we continue our number pattern and end up with something like this which is C major across 2 octaves.
C(!) D(2) E(3) F(4) G(5) A(6) B(7) C(8) D(9) E(10) F(11) G(12) A(13) B(14)
Now allow me to draw your attention to the note in bold. The D in next octave. This D note is our “9”.
All 9 chords (in C at least) are going to contain that D note. Naturally when you change key, the note will change but the logic will remain the same. If you were to build this example in G, your 9 would be an A. Try it for yourself and see.
We have one of our notes. But what about the others? As we already know, a chord is made up of a group of notes but which ones are we going to use for these chords?
Let’s stick with the example of C and now, we’ll start from the beginning. All of these 9 chords are going to need a root note. Our root note is the first degree of our scale and as we know, that’s going to be the note C.
This means that we now have two notes. The root which is C and the 9 which is D in the next octave. All of the chord types we’re looking at today will contain both of those notes.
Another note that they’ll both contain is an unaltered perfect 5th which simply put, is the 5th degree of our scale which you can see is a G.
We’re almost there. There’re just 2 more notes that we need to find and they’re the third, and the seventh. These notes aren’t as simple as the previous ones though because they alter depending on the chord.
I’ll keep this concise because let’s face it, I know you’re hear for the chord shapes.
Let’s start with the thirds. Major 9 chords have a major third which will be E in our C based examples. Dominant 9 chords also use a major third and finally as you may expect, minor 9 chords use a minor third.
Lastly, we have that pesky 7th. Major 9 chords use a major 7th note which is a B in our C based examples and both the minor and dominant 9 chords use a minor 7th note.
Minor third notes and minor seventh notes
Some of you may have questions surrounding the terms “minor” and “major” when it relates to the notes we were just discussing. Once again, this is not a music theory lesson so we will just look at this in as simple of a way as possible.
We established that the major third (in C) was an E note, and a major seventh was a B note. These were the third and seventh degrees of the scale respectively. If you take a major scale and lay it out as we did earlier in the lesson, the third is always a major third and the seventh is always a major seventh. To make them minor, we need to alter them by lowering them by a semitone. This means that our minor third above C is an Eb (E flat) and the minor seventh above C is Bb (B flat.
Hope that makes sense.
With the information above, we can build a list of how these three chord types are built and it would look something like this.
Major, minor and dominant 9 chords – the formula of how to build them (examples in C)
Major 9 – 1 3 5 7 9 – C E G B D
Minor 9 – 1 3b 5 7b 9 – C Eb G Bb D
Dominant 9 – 1 3 5 7b 9 – C E G Bb D
Ready for some lovely major, minor and dominant 9 chords on guitar? Scroll!
Major 9 chords on guitar
First, we have five major 9 shapes. All examples are in C and all the shapes are movable for example, shifting any of these shapes up by two frets would give you a D major 9 chord. This goes for the following minor and dominant chords too. In these shapes, the root note is always found at the top of the chord.
Minor 9 chords on guitar
You have five minor 9 chord shapes here to try out. Like the major shapes before, these minor 9 chords are all movable and like the major shapes, the root note is always found at the top of the chord. There is a couple of big barres here which span all six strings but they do sound nice and full so the difficulty is worth the pain.
Dominant 9 chords on guitar (also referred to simply as “9” for example C9)
We shall wrap up this lesson in a big way with nine different dominant 9 chord shapes! You have a mix of commonly used shapes and more abstract ones and unlike our major and minor 9 chord shapes that came before, the root isn’t always found at the top of the chord. You have a couple of inversions in there which will help you to diversify your sound a little. All of the chords are still movable.
There are more types of 9 chords
This lesson has focused on three types of 9 chord. Major, minor, and dominant. The world of 9 chords does not end there. There’re plenty of other different kinds that you can learn for example add9 chords which along with a few other types of 9 chord, will be covered in a future guitar lesson here at Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat so keep an eye out so you don’t miss it.
That just about concludes this guitar lesson. You have a total of nineteen chord shapes there to try out. Some are better sounding and more useful than others but I guess it all comes down to your opinion. Give them all a try and see which of these chords work best for you. Don’t forget to check out the Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat guitar chord library to learn more chord shapes and don’t forget to check out my latest content.
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Hello. My name is Ryan J Mellor and I play the guitar. I’m also the creator of Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat. I’ve ben a guitarist for many years and my guitar playing has been described as “above average”. My guitar and music knowledge is somewhat impressive but most importantly, I have a passion for creating great guitar and music related content.