How to Make Guitar Chords

Discover how to make guitar chords. These formulas can be used for any major scale. All you need to do is match up the numbers with the notes. Make your own chords.

Not all chords come from the major scale. The minor scales contribute too. You don’t have to remember where they all come from this is just a way of organizing them.

The guitar can be a very versatile instrument when it comes to chords. We can create chords like no other instrument can without getting into electronics.

These formulas come in handy when trying to play a chord in a different place or open tunings.

Major Scale – The Tool

We will use the major scale as the chord building tool. The notes may match up with a major scale and it may not. We are using it as a tool for making chords and has nothing to do with the scales.

Below is a list with numbers that match up with the C scale. You will see numbers in many chord names.

3 notes have two names 2 and 9, 4 and 11, 6 and 13. These notes are the same only one octave apart. It doesn’t matter which octave you use most of the time.

There is a list of major scales at the bottom of this page that you can use for different chord names. For a D chord type you will follow that line to get your notes.

Some notes may be flatted or sharped from the notes you see just change them accordingly.
















Major Chords
How to Make Guitar Chords

Major – 1 3 5

add9 – 1 3 5 9

6th – 1 3 5 6

6/9 – 1 3 5 6 9

Ma7 – 1 3 5 7

ma9 – 1 3 5 7 9

ma7/6 – 1 3 5 6 7

ma13 – 1 3 5 7 9 13

Minor Chords
How to Make Guitar Chords

m – 1 3♭ 5

m add9 – 1 3♭ 5 9

m6 – 1 3♭ 5 6

m9 – 1 3♭ 5 7♭ 9

m6/9 – 1 3♭ 5 6 9

m11 – 1 3♭ 5 7♭ 9 11

m7 – 1 3♭ 5 7♭

m13 – 1 3♭ 5 7♭ 9 11 13

m7/11 – 1 3♭ 5 7♭ 11

mMa7 – 1 3♭ 5 7

m7♭5 – 1 3♭ 5♭ 7♭

m9Ma7 – 1 3♭ 5 7 9

Augmented 5th Chords
How to Make Guitar Chords

An Augmented chord is a chord with a raised 5th. It is written like Caug or C+. The + sign is also used to indicate another note is to be raised like a E7+9. This chord doesn’t have a raised 5th the 9th is raised. If there is no note after the + you raise the 5th 1/2 tone or one fret.

Any major or dominant chord can have a raised 5th. Minor chords don’t get a raised 5th because it makes them a major chord. If you raised the 5th of Am A C E to A C F it would be an F chord.

Diminished Chords
How to Make Guitar Chords

A diminished chord is a chord with a lowered 3rd and 5th. It is written like Cdim or C°. This sign doesn’t get used like the + you will only see this on a diminished or diminished 7th chord.

You will notice 2 flats after the 7 in the diminished 7th chord. This is how it’s made. The 7th gets lowered a whole tone. It’s actually a 6th.

Suspended Chords
How to Make Guitar Chords

sus2 – 1 2 5

sus4/9 – 1 4 5 9

sus2/6 – 1 2 5 6

sus4/6 – 1 4 5 6

sus4 – 1 4 5

sus4/9 – 1 4 5 9

sus4/6 – 1 4 5 6

7sus4/6 – 1 4 5 6 7♭

7sus2 – 1 2 5 7♭

13sus4 – 1 4 5 7♭ 9 13

Dominant Chords
How to Make Guitar Chords

These chords are built from the 5th note of the major and minor scales. They all have a flatted 7th.

7 – 1 3 5 7♭

9 – 1 3 5 7♭ 9

7/6 – 1 3 5 6 7♭

11 – 1 3 5 7♭ 9 11

7/11 – 1 3 5 7♭ 11

13 – 1 3 5 7♭ 9 13

Altered Chords
How to Make Guitar Chords

Altered chords are chords that have altered 5, 9th or 11th notes in them. There is one chord where the 13 gets lowered but this is the same as raising the 5th.

The 5th can be raised, lowered or both in the same chord.

The 9th can be raised or lowered. You usually only see one of these changes in this type of altered chord.

The 11th can only be raised. If it was lowered it would be a major 3rd. The raised 11th is the same as a lowered 5th. They are both the same note.

Octaves and Chord Building

In chord construction octaves don’t matter as far as the effect of the note on the chord. An 11 and 4 both give the suspended sound. The same is true of the 2 and 9 and the 6 and 13.

♭5 – 1 3 5♭

7♭9 – 1 3 5 ♭7 ♭9

7♭5 – 1 3 5♭ 7♭

7♯9 – 1 3 5 ♭7 ♯9

7♯5 – 1 3 5♯ 7♭

7+11 – 1 3 5 ♭7 ♯11

7♭5♯5 – 1 3 ♭5 ♯5 7♭

9+11 – 1 3 5 ♭7 9 ♯11

+7♭9 – 1 3 ♯5 ♭7 ♭9

+7♭9 – 1 3 ♯5 ♭7 ♯9

9♭5 – 1 3 ♭5 7♭ 9

9♭13 – 1 3 5 ♭7 9 ♭13

Key and Chord Notes

Guitar Fretboard

If you need to learn the guitar fretboard better to use this info go to my fretboard page below. You can learn where these notes are and there is a link to some very good software for making it easy to learn the guitar notes.

Guitar Fretboard

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12 Bar Blues Chord Progression – Blues Basics

The 12 bar blues chord progression is the back bone of the blues besides being the basis for many pop and country songs. Learning this progression will allow you to play hundreds if not thousands of songs

This is where Eric Clapton and BB King and every other Blues player started and still use this progression for a lot of their songs.

This music used to be called Rhythm and Blues when the Sax and Piano were the lead instruments which is still one of the Blues styles today. You just don’t hear that term much anymore. It got shortened to Blues

The Rolling Stones early albums have many rhythm and blues tracks on them with blues chord progressions.

12 Bar Blues Basics

The blues uses the three major chords from the major scale. The I, IV and V chords. In C the chords would be C, F and G.

F♯ and G♭ are the same pitch just a different key for writing music.

This is a fairly simple blues chord progression using 9th chords for the IV and V chords

This could also be done with just plain major chords or with all 7th chords which is what you will probably see in most sheet music for blues songs

These progressions can get quite complicated when using chord substitution.

For right now you just need to understand the basic progression because all the other versions are still based on this simple progression.

This is referred to as a quick change blues progression because of the change to the IV chord in measure 2. A lot of the time the I chords plays the 1st 4 measures

Also the A7 on measure 4 is kind of an out of date sound played this way that you don’t hear too often anymore. It tells you your about to change chords.

Here are the chords. I couldn’t make the staff big enough so you could see the chords diagrams clearly

12 bar blues in the key of a

This is one of the blues guitar lessons that you have to understand before you go any further into blues progressions.

Blues Music

Here is a link for you to check out different blues albums by a variety of players.

Blues Music

(Opens New Window)

Thank You for reading our 12 Bar Blues Chord Progession page.

I hope you found this page useful.

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B Flat Minor Melodic Scale

Discover the B flat minor melodic scale. This scale is related to the D flat and B flat major scales. The B flat scale is the Tonic minor and the D flat scale is the Relative minor.

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Guitar Scales Method

B♭ Major

B♭ C D E♭

F G A B♭

B♭ Melodic

B♭ C D♭ E♭

F G A B♭

B♭ Minor Melodic Chords









4 Note








B Flat Minor Melodic Chord Diagrams

Four Part Chords

B Flat Minor Melodic Key signature

This is how the key signature looks in the key of B flat melodic, Harmonic or Natural minor scales or D flat major.

Minor Key


Key Signature

Rel Major


B, E& D


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Lydian Sharp 2 Mode

The Lydian sharp 2 mode comes from the 6th note of the harmonic minor scale.This mode will give you another tool or way of thinking when it comes to improvising over a major 7th chord.

This scale can also be used when you have an unaltered major 7th or one with a ♯11 or a ♭5.

This scale also contains a “blue” note, the flat 5.

The scale also has a minor and major 3rd in it. The minor 3rd is another “blue” note

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Guitar Scales Method

This mode is close to a blues scale but the 7th is a major

This is the F Lydian sharp 2 played against an F major 7th

The Lydian sharp 2 played against an F major 7th chord

The G♯ in this mode will give a minor sound because it is a minor 3rd from the F. It can also be used as a passing tone to the A for a Major sound and a little Blues touch.

The G♯ is also a ♯9. The B gives you the ♭5 or ♯11 sound.

The Lydian Sharp 2 Mode List

The Keys below are Minor Harmonic, not relative major.

The D♯ and E♭ are the same scale this is where I switched from flat to sharp keys in the list.

I hope you found this page useful.


Time Signatures Explained…Those Little Fractions

Do you need those time signatures explained? A lot of people do, They tell you all about the basic beat of the music. This is the basic beat and not necessarally the rhythm of a song.

A song can have rhythms within the basic beat. Also the melody will have its own rhythm or timing.

Similar to what a drummer does with all the different drums.

The time signature is similar to how the drummer plays his bass drum usually on beats one and three in 4/4 time, like a metronome for everyone.

This will vary with different songs and time signatures.


Measures are the way you divide the staff into sections so you can read the music much easier than without.

The time signatures tell you how many beats each measure gets and what note gets a full beat.


Notes are represented as a fraction in the time signature. The bottom number tells you what kind of note gets a full beat.

Imagine a 1 for the top number when you read the bottom number.

A 2 would be a half note, a 4 would be a quarter note and an 8 would be an eighth note.

These are probably the only numbers you will see on the bottom of the fraction.

The Fraction

Top of Fraction

Number of Beats per Measure

Bottom of Fraction

What Note gets a Whole Beat

Common Time Signatures Explained

The below key signatures mean the same thing. Because 4/4 is so common they use a C instead of a fraction.

This is your common 1-2-3-4 beat that you have been listening to since childhood.


In 4/4 time the first beat is played the loudest with the 3rd beat getting a smaller accent than the first.

Time Signatures Explained

Cut Time – “Alla Breve”

This time signature is used for a fast paced songs. Having a half note as your full beat makes it easier to read and count 2 beats rather than 4 beats at a faster pace.

Cut time will still sound and look the same as common time. It’s just counted different

It looks like 4/4 but quarter notes get a half beat in cut time.

These both mean the same thing like the common above but only two beats per measure with the half note getting a whole beat.

This would be counted 1-2 for each measure.

3/4 Time

This is the next most popular time. This could be referred to as a Waltz timing


The Quarter Note gets a Full Beat

3/8 Time


The Eighth Note gets a Full Beat

This would sound the same as 3/4 time it’s just that the eighth note would get a full beat.

The single flag on the note means it’s an eighth note.

6/8 – 12/8 – 5/4

These three you will see but not as often. The 12/8 is common for blues though. It has a shuffle feel to it.

These would all be counted similar to the samples above.

The 5/4 is a combination of 2/4 and 3/4 combined and usually counted like 3/4 and then like 2/4.

The song “Hypnotized” by “Fleetwood Mac” is a 5/4 time song

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Guitar Sweep Picking

Sweep picking is a technique every guitar player should know. It makes your playing sound very fast and clean. It’s like playing a chord but it’s not.

This technique takes a lot of slow concentrated practice. You can’t play the chord like you normally do, it has to be timed along with your fretting hand.

Don’t confuse this technique with a “rake” pick where you play a fast downstoke on a chord as one note. The sweep is more involved and timing is critical unlike the Rake.

This technique is how gutar player play at unbelievable speeds. They are actually playing chords but one note at a time is sounded out like an individual note.

The Picking Hand-Sweep Picking

To learn this technique you must start out slow and play each note of the chord as an individual note like playing a scale.

This can be hard to do at first because your mind wants to play the whole chord because that’s what you’re used to doing. That’s why starting slow is best, you can control your movements better.

The Fretting Hand

This hand controls how long the notes ring. As you leave one string with your pick you should let up slightly on that string to stop it from ringing because the next string will be ringing almost instantly.

You have to develop a co-ordination between the picking and fretting hand fingers. You will be releasing pressure one finger after the other but depending on the chord it might not be the finger next to the one you just released.

It’s not just the hand it’s the individual fingers that must respond to your picking.

Down Stroke and Up Stroke

When you sweep pick you are going in one direction. Going from the 6th string to the first you would use a down stroke. Playing from a higher pitched string to a lower pitched string you would use an up stroke.

Often after the down stroke or two you may have to do an upstroke and change the fretting hand position for the upstroke just like changing chords.

Some of these positions are arpeggios rather than chords. An arpeggio is the same notes as a chord played like a scale but the way the guitar is tuned we don’t have many chord forms that let us do this for more than 4 notes without moving.

Chords are usually made by using every other note of a scale.

So in reality you will have to use alternate picking and sweep picking together in many situations so you should have a handle on alternate picking first which is fairly easy to do.

Sweep Picking Practice

You must use a Metronome to perfect this technique, it’s all about timing.

Here is an example using a major 7th chord on the 1st 4 strings.

Before you use the metronome play the chords 1st to make sure you are getting clear notes if not work on that first.

Let the pick pass through the string and rest on the string below or above depending on which direction you’re going.

As you play the first note you should release tension on the 1st finger to stop it from sounding.

You should do this with all the other fingers and strings too. This chord has a nice sound with all the strings ringing but not for this lesson. These are meant to be very fast melodic passages not chords.

This is a good beginning chord for sweep picking. There are many others where you have to combine alternate picking and sweep picking together to complete arpeggios and combined chord phrases.

Here’s a listen

Sweep technique F major 7th chord

Sweep Picking Guitarists-mp3

Steve Vai
Yngwie Malmsteen
Jeff Loomis (Opens New Window)

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Discover the A Flat Major Scale

The A flat major scale has 4 flats giving us B, E, A and D flatted in this scale. The word bead makes this easy to remember. We added one more flat with every scale moving in the circle of 4ths.

This scale is made from two tetra-chords from the D flat and E flat scales.

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Guitar Scales Method

Because the A flat scale is related to D flat and E flat you see the same notes and chords as in the A♭, D♭ and E♭ scales.

This scale is fairly common in sheet music books.

A Flat Scale

The A Flat Major – Scale Layout

The first four notes of this scale came from the key of D♭. The last four notes of the A♭ scale come from the key of E♭.

A Flat Tetra-chords

The tetra-chord is a group of four notes that make up one half a major scale. The major scales needs two tetra-chords.

The first A flat scale tetra-chord comes from the last D flat scale tetra-chord and the second half of the A flat scale comes from the first E flat scale tetrachord.


1st Tetrachord


2nd Tetrachord


The A Flat Major – Scale Numbering

The major scales have numbers that go with the notes for easy identification. This way of referring to numbers makes it easy to refer to any scale or chord no matter what key.

This is also used to refer to chords that are built from major scales. The chord numbers are usually written in Roman numerals, upper case for major chords and lower case for minor chords.

A Flat Major Scale – Notation and Tab

A Flat Major Chords









The A Flat Major Chord Diagrams

This is how the first bar(Key Signature) will look if you are in the key of A♭. The flat symbol circles the B and D lines and the E and A spaces in the staff.

Any other flats and sharps will be marked in the music itself but the B,E, A and D won’t be so you have to remember them.

The flat keys spell little words as you go through the cycle of 4ths starting with B then BE then BEA then BEAD and so on. This might help you remember the flats and the keys.

Major Key


Key Signature

Rel Minor


B♭, E♭, A♭ D♭


If you are learning the scales in the the cycle of 4ths or 5ths you will already be familiar with the G and A scales. This scale is located between them. You will be a half tone or one fret away from either of these scales.

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Guitar Diminished 7th Chord Images

Guitar diminished 7th chord images. Diminished 7th chords are unique. They have four names, one for each note in the chord. They also repeat themselves every three frets.

The triad form found in the 7th note of the major scale doesn’t repeat itself like the seventh.

The diminished 7th is made up entirely of minor third intervals.


The seventh for these chords is actually a 6th if you were to use the major scale to make them.

They can be made from the Chromatic scale by selecting 4 minor 3rd intervals or notes that are 3 frets form the last one.

The minor 7th flat 5 chord is almost identical except that the 7th is really a 7th and not a 6th. A lot of lesson books used to use the diminished 7th in place of the minor 7th flat 5 chord.

G♯, B, D and F Diminished 7th Chords

Each chord can be used for four different chords. The same notes just a different name. This is called plurality, a lot of other chords have more than one name. An Am7 chord is also a C6 chord.

The Notes for these chord are G♯, B, D and F.

This chord can be made from the 7th note of the A Harmonic minor scale

A, C, E♭ and G♭ Diminished 7th Chords

The Notes for these chords are A, C, E♭ and G♭.

This chord can be built from the B flat Harmonic minor scale.

Sometimes in a song when they call for F diminished you may have to play an F form where the low pitched note is an F for it to sound right and other times it may not matter. These chords usually only last one bar or less.

They can be used for leading to another chord too like a passing tone leads to a scale note.

B♭, D♭, E and G Diminished 7th Chords

The Notes for these chords are B♭, D♭, E and G.

This chord can be built from the B Harmonic minor scale.

The B♭ will be an A♯ in this key but still the same chord notes.

There are some other chord forms but these are the most common.

These chords have some good uses check out my page Diminished 7th Chord Theory

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Discover the Dorian Mode

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The Dorian mode has a nice balanced minor quality to it blending well with most music styles. It can be mixed with the pentatonic and blues scales for improvising too. This scale is the basis for “And I Love Her” by “The Beatles”. It is also a favorite scale of “Carlos Santana”.

This is a popular mode for all styles of music written in a minor mode. A major key has two relative minor keys.

Here it is in D. This comes from the second note of the C major scale.

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Dorian Scales

D Dorian – Notation and Tablature

Here is how it sounds. I put two chords in this sample a D minor and a G. This you will get to know as a two-five progression because this is where these chords come from. The 2nd and 5th notes of the major scale.

It’s the basis for songs like Santana’s “Evil Ways” and the “Traffic” hit “Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys”

The D Dorian played against a D minor and G chord progression

And I Love Her

The Beatles song “And I Love Her” is written in the F sharp Dorian mode. This is the key of E but the home chord is F sharp minor. The song is on the Red Album

Below is a list of these modes. This mode gets a lot of use with a minor chord based root progression like ii-V.

Guitar Scales Software

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Guitar Scales Method

The Formula for this scale is 1-2-♭3-4-5-6-♭7

The major scale formula is 1-2-3-4-5-6-7

Flatten the 3rd and 7th of any major scale to make a Dorian mode.