Before tackling this course, you should be comfortable with all the material from Dominant 9th Chords

It may have crossed your mind during this course, that having a 5 note chord could prove tricky on the guitar. This is especially true when looking for a variety of shapes (using the CAGED system for example). In this lesson we discuss how to use 9th chords in practice on the guitar.

Summary: in Practice

As guitarists we like to be able to play chord shapes across the neck to give us a variety of sounds and ideas to use in our improvising or songwriting. When we deal with 5 note chords like 9th chords, this becomes tricky as you HAVE to use 5 strings at least to find the chord shape. However, there are some key rules to remember in practice:

1. Omit the 5th note

2. If playing with a band, omit the root!

The 5th note of the chord can be considered an extra bit of padding for the root. It doesn't really bring anything more to the chord than filling it out. When we talk about the 3rd, or 7th or 9th, these notes change the sound of the chord and are therefore crucial to be in it. The 5th, however, does not. Let's look at the Cmaj9 chord:

Therefore the 5th plays no real part in the overall sound of the chord and can be removed. Equally, if you are playing with a band and the bass playing is playing the root note, you don't have to play the root. This means you only need to create a 3 or 4 note chord depending on the situation. Not only is this easier, but the chord will sound clearer as it is only playing the really important notes from that formula. So, have some fun trying to work out your own 9th chords using this information!

All done?


You've now completed Theory Lab: 9th Chords and taken a huge step forwards in your guitar playing journey.

Feel free to bask in glory for a while, or go ahead and try another course if you're hungry for more.