Learn Guitar Chords….Right From the Major Scale

Learn guitar chords without a chord book. It fairly easy to do. This is also a good way to get more familiar with the fretboard notes.

Chord books are good to use but they don’t have all the possible ways to play a chord because there are too many. If you learn how to make them you can come up with some unique voicings.

I find that making a chord book of your own is useful. All you need is a Chord Diagram Blank. Right click and save to your computer then print out as many as you need. Punch some holes and put in a notebook. This also helps you get more familiar with the fretboard.

Chords from the Major Scale

7 Notes – 7 Chords

Every major scale has 7 basic chords, 3 major, 3 minor and 1 diminished.

Every major and minor chord are in three different scales. The C major chord is in the keys of C, F and G. It is a I chord in the C scale, a IV chord in the G scale and a V chord in the F scale.

Chord Making Scale-Note Table

Top Row

The top row is the C major scale in two octaves. We need two octaves to name chords and other notes.

Middle Row

In the middle row are the numbers the we will use for naming different chords. Not all these numbers are used but I put them there to make it clearer.

Bottom Row

The bottom row has Roman Numerals that we will use for each chord. The upper case is for Major chords and the lower case is for minors.

You can write out chord progressions using these Roman Numerals and you will be able to play them in any key as long as you know the chords in the keys. This isn’t too hard to do.































The Roman Numerals just repeat with the octaves. There are only 7 of them.

Need help finding the notes on your guitar fretboard?

Making the First Guitar Chords
Learn Guitar Chords

What we do to make a chord is use every other note. The triad is a basic three note chord, the root of all guitar chords. We will make a three note chord for each of the seven notes of the major scale.

Scale Note

Chord Notes

Chord Type

To get a complete understanding of the triads and the chord building process check out the page below.

This is how all chords are built and it’s pretty easy to understand.

Beginner Guitar Chords

Here is a list of all the triads in all the major scales

The Major Scale Guitar Chord Triads
Learn Guitar Chords

This is the beginning of making chords, you can keep adding notes. The most common chords after triads are 4 note chords. These are mostly 7th chords like C7 or Dm7. The extra notes add a little “color” to the chords.

Major Scale – Chord Formulas
Learn Guitar Chords

All of these guitar chords and any others that we make will be referenced to the major scale.

In other words the formula to build a minor chord would be 1 3b 5.

The 3 is flat because the major scale has a major third not a minor third or 3b. This is just a tool for making chords and has nothing to do with keys although there are similarities.

All chords are referenced this way to make things simple, instead of trying to make a chord from the 2 or 5. It would get confusing because we have numbers in a lot of our chord names.

Most chords are made by stacking major and minor thirds together, every other note. If you are having trouble understanding how these chords are being made you should go to the music intervals page.

Chord Symbols
Learn Guitar Chords

Most written music and tab uses symbols for guitar chords so they can be written easier. I’m not talking about chord diagrams I’m talking about a chord symbol like E7+9 or Cmaj7. Here is a page on how to read chord symbols.

Reading Guitar Chord Symbols

How to Make Chords

Here is a page that shows you how to make chords from the major scale in more detail than the above paragraph.

How to Make Guitar Chords

How Many Chord Types?
Learn Guitar Chords

The 4 main types are major, minor, augmented and diminished but there are many variations and altered chords too. Check out the chord list page below to see all of them.

List of Chords.

Basic Guitar Chords

There are a handful or so of basic major and minor guitar chord forms that you can use to play just about any song with. Check out the link below.

Basic Chords.

Guitar Barre Chords
Learn Guitar Chords

These chords are the most used chords on guitar. They are essential for anyone learning guitar no matter what style music you are into. Here is a page about barre chords

Barre Chords

The 7th Chords
Learn Guitar Chords

These chords add a new dimension of sound to plain major, minor, augmented and diminished chords.

I have a special page just for 7th chords, Enjoy.

7th Chords

Dominant 7th Chords

This 7th chord deserves its own page. It gets used more than all the other 7th chords put together.

Dominant 7th Chords

Power Chords
Learn Guitar Chords

Power chords are used all the time in rock music but you can find them in all types of music. They just don’t get played through a stack of Marshall Amps ®. Here is some more info on power chords.

Power Chords

Diminished 7th Chords
Learn Guitar Chords

These chords normally only get used for a measure or less at a time. They are used most of the time actually as passing chords

They come from the minor scales. They do have some unique uses. Here is another page that goes into more detail.

Diminished 7th Chords


Back to School

It’s back to school time, time to get new school clothes, computers and everything else you need for the upcoming school year

You can save a lot of money shopping at Walmart for school clothes, notebooks, laptops, ipads and more.

With Walmart you can buy online and pick up at your local store with no delivery charges.


Get your school uniforms at a better price.

School Uniforms

Back to School Products


These make it easy to carry your books and other other school item like your mp3 player.

Back to School Backpacks


Get your laptop at the best price in town

Laptop Bundle


Here is a great way to remember those school days. Before you know it they will be behind you



In case you have some leisure time between your studies, play a game to take a break


Apple iPad

A very popular and useful item


Apple iPod

A must for itunes and other Apps



You need to have a place to do your homework


TV’s(Must Have Good Grades!)

Here is your reward for good grades, a new TV


Back to College

You need a lot more for going back to college especially if you live there

Back to College


Here is a good item for school and leisure. Portable readers.

Electronic Readers

I hope you found this page useful.


Whole Tone Scale…Another Improvising Tool

All Pink Floyd Guitar Guru Sessions $5 Each Till 10/31/2010

The whole tone scale is a symmetrical scale made up completely of whole tones or major second intervals

This scale is used mainly for improvising over altered dominant chords because of the flat and sharp 5th’s contained in it.

If we were to make chords from this scale they would all be augmented triads, C+, E+, and so on

Only Two Scales

There are really only two of these scales, it repeats itself every major 2nd

The first one would contain half of the chromatic scale and the second one the rest of the chromatic scale.

You could start on C for the first one and then C♯ for the second one

You can play every other note on one string starting with an open note up to the 12th fret for a whole scale

Here is the whole tone scale compared to the chromatic scale

These are the only two scales. You just start on the note you want and every other note in the scale is two frets away or one whole tone

These are 6 note scales like the Blues scales

Chromatic Scale














Whole Tone One

Whole Tone Two

The whole tone scale is good for improvising over altered 5th dominant 7th chords like these. You may see the second two with a + sign C7+ this is the same chord.

The plus sign means augmented which usually refers to the 5th of a chord unless written like C7aug9. This means augment or raise the 9th one half step or in our case 1 fret

However you may see other ways of writing them because there really is no standard for the world. Different countries may do them differently.

C+9 would mean a ninth chord with a raised 5th. There are set standards for writing chord names but they aren’t always followed so you might have to try two chords to see which one sounds right.

Also there may be more than one way to write a chord. C+7, C7+ or C7♯5 can all mean the same chord.

Dominant 7th Altered 5th Chords

C Whole Tone

This scale is played against a C7♯5 chord.



Windows Media

C whole tone played against a C7 augmented

This scale can be started from any tone in the chord. For the C7♯5 you could start on C, E, G♯ or B♭

These scales are all the same they just start at different points.


How to Hold a Guitar Pick

Learn how to hold a guitar pick so you get the best tone and you aren’t dropping it all the time. This may sound stupid to you but if you start out holding it right all your picking will be easier to do.

The main thing is you want to start out holding it right so you don’t have playing problems in the future that will have to be fixed before you can get any better.

It’s just starting out with a good foundation so you have something solid to build on.

This goes for all the things you learn about playing guitar. Get the basics down and you can learn to play anything at all.

Muscle Memory

Muscle memory is the human body’s ability to repeat a learned muscle movement.

It comes from repetition of a movement. Most of the time it happens without us thinking about it like reaching out to open a door.

You didn’t have to practice opening doors but if it was a special door that took a special movement to open it you would be aware of it and learn that movement.

Then every time you went to open that particular door your muscles would just go into action without your thinking about it.

The same is true for every movement you make especially playing guitar because you use your whole body. To move your little finger you have to move a muscle in you hand which moves a muscle in you arm which moves a muscle in your shoulder.

This is why having your whole body reaxed is essential to good guitar playing.

How Muscle Memory Works
For Guitar Players

If you repeat a movement enough times your body will remember this in your muscle “memory”. The muscles will then repeat this action without you thinking about it. This applies to every thing you do physically like hitting a baseball or pitching one. As long as your body doesn’t have any discomfort or pain your body will repeat this movement exactly like you taught it.

Bad Habits – Hard to Break

However your body doesn’t know if it’s right or wrong it just repeats what you taught it. This is why it’s hard to break bad playing habits, you have to retrain your muscles which is much harder than the initial training because your body still wants to use the first way it learned.

Your muscles don’t have a brain they just go on instinct or what you trained them to do.

This is why when you practice guitar or anything else you are learning you should take your time and pay attention to those little details that will make your playing sound professional.

Stop when you make a mistake and find out why; You didn’t change positions when you should have or maybe a different fingering or position will help.

Are you holding your guitar picks right. Firm but not tight, loose but not loose enough to drop them.

Don’t keep practicing something that’s wrong. Stop and fix it even if it means starting all over.

Pay attention to your picking hand along with your fretting hand and the rest of your body and relax your muscles when they get tense.

Use a metronome after you know the fingerings or whatever it is you are learning and start off slow playing

I wanted to explain about muscle memory above before you learn to hold the pick because it could save you some time.

How you hold the guitar is also important for the picking hand. Holding the guitar the same way all the time will help you get your picking hand more accurate.

Here is a page on How to Hold a Guitar

Pick Holding Guidelines

  • The pick should be held between the thumb and index finger
  • The Pick should be held Firmly not Tightly it must flex
  • The Pick should extend about a quarter of an inch past your thumb
  • The Pick should be parallel – with the strings, not tilted up or down
  • Your fingers should not hit the strings only the pick

Sometimes the right way of holding the pick won’t be quite right for you. You might have to make small adjustments. The main thing is that it feels comfortable and you have complete control of the pick. It should have a good “feel” in your hand

Pick Tilting
How to Hold a Guitar Pick

  • You can tilt the pick slightly toward the tuning keys
  • This gives better tone and speed
  • This can happen naturally without you knowing as you play more

Pick tilting means you are playing the strings at a slight angle making the area of the pick that strikes the string less giving better tone and speed when playing single notes.

In other words you are almost using the edge of the pick coming in at an angle instead of laying flat across the string.

This is also good for chord playing. Chords would sound Clunky if you use too much of the pick.

The area of the pick that strikes the strings is actually pretty small.

Pick Playing Position

I hope that this will clear up what I mean by pick tilting.

First lay your pick completely flat on any string.

Now take the pick and turn it sideways so the skinny edge of the pick is touching the string.

Now lay it back down almost all the way so the pick only touches the string on one side. Got it?

This is a hard thing to explain in words.

The Sweet Spot
How to Hold a Guitar Pick

You will have to experiment until you get the right spot to hold the pick so it feels comfortable and follows the guidelines up above.

Stroking the Strings

Down Stroke

When you play a string you should push the pick through the string with the weight of your arm. Don’t twist your wrist to play it.

When you play a single note you want to stop the pick between the string you just played and the string that is below it without hitting it. This will take a little practice to get control of your muscles. This is important to learn for playing single notes.

There will be times when you keep the pick going down to hit more strings as when playing chords or double stops.

Up Stroke

The same is true for the upstroke as for the down stroke the will be times to stop in between the strings and times to follow through.

There will be other situations where you skips strings or mute strings as you play them.

For now you need to practice these two basic moves while you pay attention to what both hands and the rest of your body is doing. Remember. Tension is your Enemy.

More Practice

Another thing you can do is to practice playing 2 or 3 strings in a row and stop between the last string and the one below or above it depending on which direction you are going

This will come in handy for playing triad based riffs and cross picking.

Guitar Picks

Here is a site with tons of picks

Thank You for visiting How to Hold a Guitar Pick

I hope you found this page useful.


Guitar PicksPlectrum Style Guitar

Guitar picks come in many different colors and thicknesses but the basic pick shape stays very similar because you have to hold it in your hand. Picks stay in a similar shape for the same reason baseball gloves do, they have to fit on someone’s hand.

In the case of a pick they must fit between the thumb and index finger comfortably.

The black tear-drop shape is a Gibson pick from a long time ago.

The white thumb pick is made by Dunlop I usually file the playing tip down some on these.

I prefer a heavy pick for single notes because they don’t flex too much. Medium picks I like for strumming chords.

The F1 and X1 picks I got on the internet a few years ago at They have an extra section of plastic on them that helps steady the pick. The F1 has a plastic section for your index finger and the X1 has a section to put your thumb in.

Pick Material

The material the pick is made out of will effect the tone of your guitar. Try picking your guitar with some things you have around the house like a folded up piece of paper, broken CD or thin cardboard. Try using a quarter anything else that will work just to hear the different tones they create.

Picks are made from a variety of plastics and a few are made of metal. There are metal finger picks that the steel guitar players use and there are regular metal picks but they have no give.

I remember reading about a popular rock guitarist who used a dime for a pick but I can’t remember his name. It was the 60’s.

Pick Thickness

The thickness of your pick will change the tone some but the main thing is it will effect is your playing.

I’ve found that a thick pick is easier to control, they have less give and will help train your picking hand so your hand controls the tone too.

With the heavy pick you adjust the force your arm uses to pick lighter to heavy.

This puts a lot of the tone control right in your hand or arm I should say.

The thickness of picks vary from different manufacturers but not a lot. I usually use the Fender heavy because I have a bunch of them, any brand that doesn’t break is good.

Picking Speed

Here is another reason I like the heavy pick, since you have less flex you can play faster for single note picking. This movement comes from the wrist and arm together. They also make Sweep Picking easier. Most fast pickers like a heavy pick.

Basic Guitar Picks

Guitar Picks Main Page

Dunlop Picks

Dunlop uses a plastic called Tortex. They came out with a tortoise shell pick years ago. No they didn’t use real Tortoises. Dunlop’s Tortex picks are available in a variety of shapes and gauges.

All 3 Images Take You to a Dunlop Picks Page

Fender Picks

I have been using these picks since the sixties

All 3 Images Take You to a Fender Picks Page

Gibson Picks

50 Pack so you won’t run out for a long time

Image takes you to Purchase page

Ibanez Picks

Ibanez makes picks with rubber grips and a “sand” grip too. They have special Steve Vai picks also.

All 3 Images Take You to an Ibanez Picks Page

National Picks

They only sell fingerpicks because they only make Dobros and Variations of the original Steel body guitar.

All 3 Images Take You to National Picks Page

Clayton Picks

Here are some picks with pinup girls on them.

All 3 Images Take You to a Clayton Picks Page

EVH – Eddie Van Halen Tin Picks

Twelve pack with grips on pick so you don’t drop them.

Ernie Ball Picks

These guys have been making guitar strings, picks and other guitar accessories since the late 60’s

All 3 Images Take You to Ernie Ball Picks

I hope you found this page useful.


Dominant 7th Chord

The dominant 7th chord is built from the 5th note of the major scale. It is used in all types of music but they are the main chords in Blues music.

This chord also acts as a lead in for a chord change usually a 4th away like from a G7 to a C chord.

Below is an example of the C scale. The G is the 5th note in this scale.

If we take every other note after the G we will build a G7th chord.

G – B – D – F These are the notes that make up a G7th chord.

Every major scale has a dominant chord built on it’s 5th note.

G Mixolydian Mode

The G mixolydian mode is the C major scale starting from the 5th note G. This scale along with others is used for improvising over dominant chords.

Dominant Chord Forms

Here are some common chord forms for this chord.

These chords are movable just move to the root note. On the first chord just play the 1st 4 strings.

Here is where the roots are for the above chords going from left to right.

1st Chord – Root – 6th and 3rd String

2nd Chord – Root – 6th and 1st Strings

3rd Chord – Root – 4th String

4th Chord – Root – 5th and 2nd Strings

5th Chord – Root – 5th String

Dominant chords can have other notes in them along with the 7th. Any chord that is built from the 5th note of the Major scale is a dominant chord including altered chords. They usually all have a flatted 7th.

If a chord name has a 7 after the note name it’s a dominant chord. If it has a maj7 after it’s not a dominant chord.

Dominant chords can be 9th, 11th and 13th chords too. Altered chords with a flatted 7th can also be considered dominant chords too.

Dominant Chords in Major Scales

Here is a list the keys and dominant chord for that key. The dominant 7th is always built from the 5th note of a Major scale. This is also true in the Harmonic and Melodic minor scales.

The F♯ and G♭ are the same pitch just spelled different for each key.

Dominant 7th Chords

Here are dominant 7th chords for all the major keys.

These chords are used a lot in all styles of music especially Blues music.

Most of these chords are movable just keep track of where the root notes are.


B Flat Minor Scales

B flat minor scales are related to the D flat major scale. They are used for improvising besides being a key to play music in. They are tonic minors to the key of B flat major and relative minors to the key of D flat major.

B Flat Natural Minor Scale

Chords in B Flat Natural Minor Scale

B Flat Melodic Minor Scale

Flatting the 3rd of the B flat major scale will give you an B flat melodic minor scale.

Chords in the B Flat Melodic Minor Scale

B Flat Harmonic Minor Scale

This is written in the D flat key that’s why you see the natural sign next to the A’s. This symbol is called a natural and changes the note from what it calls for in the key signature.

Lower the 3rd and 6th note of any major scale to make it a harmonic scale

This scale has a Latin sound.

I hope you found this page useful.


Lydian Sharp 2 Mode for…Major 7th Chords

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

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.

Lydian Sharp 2 Mode Formula

The obvious is raise the 2nd of the Lydian mode from the major scale.

The formula based on the major scale


Easy one to remember if you like this mode.

Learn Scales Easy
With This Software

(Opens New Window)


Circle of Fifths

As we talk about the circle of fifths what you learn will apply to the scales and chords of all the major scales.

The circle of 5ths is a good way to learn and remember your music keys with all their flats and sharps in them in an organized way.

I think using the 5th’s circle is good for the remembering sharp keys and the 4th’s circle is good for remembering the flat keys. Just another way to learn them.

This circle is similar to the circle of 4ths. It is actually the reverse order of the circle of 4ths.

You may find this circle easier to understand with the tetrachords than the circle of 4ths page.

The link below will open the circle of 4ths page so you can look at both pages

Circle of 4ths (Opens New Window)

If you are reading this page you should know about music intervals the link below will open a new window so you can go back and forth if you need to.

Music Intervals (Opens New Window)

In music the V to I chord is a common move. The V chord wants to move to the I, this is the 3rd in the V chord that does this. it wants to resolve or go home.

I to V Chord Movement – Major

You will find the I chord to the V chord common 5th move. Some songs are based on this move. The Beatles song I Should Have Known Better is basically a I – V7 move.

Another Beatles song is Nowhere Man. This song starts with an E to B chord change or a I to V.

i to V Chord Movement – Minor

A Minor One-Five(i-V7) move is a common 5th movement in the harmonic and melodic minor scales.

These V-I moves are also called cadences. This is a fancy word for getting back to the beginning of the verse.

Circle of Fifths Image

This image is similar to the one I made for the major scales page to explain tetrachords.

Just add the two tetrachord sections(large numbers at center) to make a scale. I think this is easier to understand than the circle of 4ths because you are reading forward.

To read the circle of 4ths you are reading the scales in backwards way, you have to move the 1st tetrachord in front of the 2nd one to read it right.

Only add sharp to sharp or flat to flat tetrachords in sections 7,8 and 9. These are keys that are the same pitch but written differently.

Following the Fifths

When following the fifths you need to go back to your 1st chord and not forward.

In other words if you move from C to G this is a 5th forward, C-D-E-F-G If you went forward again from the G chord it would be a 4th, G-A-B-C.

You would still play the same chord but thinking this way is less confusing for chords than following the 5ths.

If you move back you are going down a 5th G-F-E-D-C. You are still going to C but it can cause confusion sometimes as to whether you are moving four or five notes.

The 4ths circle starting with C will take you thru the keys starting with the flat keys.

The circle of fifths isn’t used as much as the 4ths but it is very important for the V-I relationship. The V chord wants to move to the I chord.

Inverting 5th Intervals

If you read the interval section you will remember that when you invert a 4th it becomes a 5th and when you invert a 5th it becomes a 4th.

Inverting means you move the bass note up one octave so C to G(5th) becomes G to C(4th) and C to F(4th) becomes F to C(5th).

Circle of Fifths – Major Chords

The Bottom Line – Circle of Fifths

The main thing is to know all your I, IV and V chords in every key. These are all major chords and the chord table up above is all of the chords.

Here is a list of the I IV V chords in all the Keys


I Chords

IV Chords

V Chords

G♭ and F♯ are the same pitch just written different.

Every major chord is in three keys. The root key and the other two keys it came from.

The C scale came from the F and G scales. Both these scales have a C chord in them along with the C scale.

Minor chords are also in 3 scales not counting the harmonic or melodic minor scales. They are in the ii, iii, and vi positions of the major scale.


Altered Chords – Altered 5 9 and 11 Guitar Chords

Regular chords become altered chords when the 5th, 9th or 11th note is altered. Some of the names can be confusing but it’s really pretty simple. An easy way to remember the 9th is that a flatted 9th is one note higher than the root of the chord. A raised 9th also a minor 3rd(same note) is 3 notes higher than the root.

These chords can be major, minor or dominant chords like G7♭5. A 9th chord always has a 7th in it, don’t confuse this with the “add 9” you may see on some chords.

Some of our symmetrical and modal scales can be used for improvising over these chords.

The only notes that can be altered are the 5th, 9th and the 11th

The 2 and the 9 are the same note one octave apart, the same for the 4 and 11.

The 2 and 4 don’t get altered but they can act as the 9 or 11 in some chord configurations where the 9 or 11 are too far away to be used in a practical chord form.

The 6 and the 13 are the same too but these notes can’t be altered, only 5, 9 and 11.

The 5th can be lowered 1/2 tone or raised 1/2 tone or both can be in the same chord.

The 9th can be lowered or raised 1/2 tone and can be combined with an altered 5th or 11th.

The 11th can only be raised 1/2 tone, It can’t be lowered because it would become a major 3rd.

Also the 11 and 4 are the same note one octave apart. This note gives that suspended 4th sound that wants to resolve.

A raised 11th is also a lowered 5th note one octave apart.

Remember in chord building theory for guitar octaves don’t count except for our ears. Any octave will have the same effect on the chord.

The magic number for finding the same notes is 7. Add 7 to 2 you get a 9, subtract 7 from 9 you get a 2. This works for all the other numbers.

Chord Confused?

If you need help understanding chords and scales these pages will help.

  • Music Intervals
  • Basic Triad Chords
  • Major Scale Primer
  • Guitar Chord Theory

Major Scale Number System































Altered 5th Chords

The 5th of a chord can be lowered or raised.

A C chord C-E-G would become a C flat 5 C-E-G♭

A C chord C-E-G would become a C aug C -E-G♯

Notice that a chord that says aug or augmented after its letter name always refers to the 5th of the chord unless a number comes after the aug or augmented.

Chord Symbols

Other symbols used are the plus (+) sign(C+5) and the sharp (♯) sign(C♯5) for augmented or raised notes.

Don’t confuse the add with the + sign. The add means to add a note(C add 9) not raise it a half tone like the + sign.

The minus sign(-) is used sometimes for flatted notes(C7-5). It makes the chord symbol shorter and easier to fit in written music.

Flatted 5th – Augmented 5th
Altered Chords

In the second C♭5 above you have to arch your first finger slightly so the 4 and 2 strings are muted.

7th and 9th Chords
Altered Dominant Chords

The 7th chord is a dominant chord built from the 5th note of the major scale.

Don’t confuse this with a major 7th chord, this 7th is 1/2 step higher.

In the key of C the chord would be a G. The dominant chords start with the 7th chord.

The first chord is a G. G-B-D.

The next chord is a G7. G-B-D-F.

The next chord is a G9 G-B-D-F-A.

Dominant 7th Altered Chords

The 7th can have one or more of the following alterations.

A flat 5, sharp 5 or both.

A flat 9, sharp 9.

A sharp 11 which is equal to a flat 5.

Jazzers Info

Unless you play Jazz you most likely won’t run into the 11th or 13th alterations.

However understanding this process will help your understanding of chord symbols in other areas.

Flatted 5th – Altered Chords

The only song I can think of that uses the flat 5 so you will recognize it is Led Zepplins’ Dancing Days written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.

This isn’t a true flat 5 because there is no 3rd until the last beat.

You go back and forth on the first two chords, actually notes and end on the last.

You will have to use some palm muting so the chords ring out the right length of time.

Here are links to the mp3 and sheet music.

Dancing Days mp3 Dancing Days Sheet Music (Opens New Window)

Augmented 5th – Altered Chords

An augmented chord usually but not always comes after an unaltered form of the same chord. When used like this it is leading you into another chord usually with a note in it 1/2 tone higher than the raised 5th.

Here is a common progression you will see in a lot of songs.

See how the 5th of the C chord moves up 1/2 tone at a time.

See how the name of the chords change.

The A minor could be called a C6 although there would be no 5th in it.

The C7 would most likely lead to some form of an F chord.

The Beatles song Oh Darling starts with an augmented chord.

Altered 9th Chords

Flatted 9th Chords

The flatted 9th chords will be written as a 7th chord like C7-9 or C7♭9.

You can think of the flatted 9th note as a raised root. This note will always be 1/2 tone above the root note of the chord it in.

These chords are the beginning of The Beatles song I Want You(She’s So Heavy) from the Abbey Road Album

All the picking is on the 1st 4 strings, no 5th string notes even though they are in the chord.

Here is a link to the CD because you can’t download individual Beatles songs in mp3.

Abbey Road CD I Want You – Sheet Music (Opens New Window)

Augmented 9th – Altered Chords

This chord is a popular altered chord. I’ve heard this refered to as the Jimi Hendrix chord.

He uses this chord in Stone Free.

It can also be used with the flat 9 as a substitute chord sequence like E7+9, E7-9 to E7. this is good if you have a couple of bars of E7 in a row to spice it up.

P.S. Don’t get in the way of the melody or a solo. Play around until you can make it fit or wait for another song if it doesn’t work on the current one.

What makes this chord really unique is that a sharp 9 is also a flat 3 or a minor 3rd.

This means you can use minor scales and major scales freely for improvising with this chord.

You can use the E Mixolydian, E major and minor pentatonic, the E major and minor blues scales, the E Super Locrian mode, the F diminished scale and more.

The F Diminished isn’t an error, it’s sometimes easier to think 1/2 step above with this scale to get the notes for altered chords in the scale. This scale contains the major 3rd and the minor 3rd/augmented 9th.

Stone Free – Jimi Hendrix

Here are links to the mp3 and sheet music for this song.

Stone Free mp3 Stone Free – Sheet Music (Opens New Window)

Augmented 11th Chords
Altered Chords

This is the only alteration for this note. If it was lowered it would equal a major third which isn’t an altered tone.

What the difference between this and a 7th flat 5 chord is that it has a 9 in it.

I don’t know of a popular song that has this chord in it that you would recognize offhand.

If I come across one I’ll put it up but this chord has a unique sound to it. Here are a couple diagrams.

These are dominant chords putting you in the key of A. E is the 5th and dominant note of the A scale.

The T for the fingering means thumb. Wrap your thumb over the neck to play these two notes on strings 5 and 6.

Dominant 13th♭9 Chords
Altered Chords

The 2nd chord image has no root, follow it by the 3rd on the 4th string. think E-3 =’s C.

When we get a lot of notes in a chord we leave out tone to play the ones that are wanted. The bass player will play the root or it will sound implied. In other words the listener thinks they hear the root it because of what was played before this chord. You have already set the stage.

Dominant 7th♯5♯9 Chords
Combined Altered Chords

These chords could be used to replace a C7 for a couple of beats to spice up the progression.

Dominant 7th ♭5 ♭9
Combined Altered Chords

There is no root for the 2nd and 3rd chords so you must remember them in a different way.

The 2nd chord has its 3rd on the 2nd string. Think back two whole tones to C.

The 2nd chord has its 3rd on the 3rd string. Think back two whole tones to C.

E will always be the 3rd of any C major, augmented or dominant chord.

This is one way. You might choose one of the other notes to reference by but I find the 3rd a good way because it doesn’t ever change unless a chord doesn’t have one.

Dominant 7th ♯5 ♭9
Combined Altered Chords

Like the chords above the 2nd and 3rd image have no root.

Sometimes a chord diagram will tell you no root with a NR after the chord name. Most of the time they don’t unless it’s a lesson.

The 3rd for the 2nd image is on the 4th string. Think E-3 =’s C

The 3rd for the 3rd image is on the 2nd string.

Dominant 7th ♭5 ♯9
Combined Altered Chords

I told you about chords that have a sharp and flat 5 in the same chord here are a couple examples.

Dominant 7th ♭5 ♯5
Combined Altered Chords

This chord may also be called a C7♭5♭13 because a sharp 5 is equal to a flatted 13 which is equal to a 6th but one octave higher.

There are more but these are the most common.

You don’t have to play Jazz to take advantage of this theory. The individual notes from these chords can be used in improvising in any style of music if played at the right time and tempo.

I hope you found this page useful.

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