Discover Slash Chords

What are slash chords? They sound like nasty evil chords but they’re actually pretty tame.

There are two types. One tells you what bass note to use for a chord like C/G. This means play a C chord with a G as the bass note.

The second one tells you to add notes represented as numbers like C6/9. This means to add a 9th to the C6 chord.

They don’t occur in every song but they happen enough that you should be familiar with them.

Chord Bass Notes – Slash Chords

Adding a bass note to use with a particular chord.

These are used by all musicians not just guitar players.

Am7/G would mean to play an A minor 7th with a G note as it’s bass note.

Another one you will see quite often is the I chord like C/G.

The reason for this is to follow a bass line. In other words you could play any C and it would fit in the music but with the C/G it would sound like the writer intended it to sound.

You may also see C/v which is the same thing they are just using the note degree or position instead of a letter

This isn’t as common as the note but you may see it and you’ll know what they mean.

All Chords = Slash Chords

You can use any note from the major scale for any chord from that scale

In other words in the key of C you have C D E F G A B C.

Now the C chord is C E G. So that leaves you with 4 other notes D F A B you can use with this C chord.

You can add the D as a bass note C/D. This makes this chord a C added 9th.

The next one is the C/F This you might call a C sus4th except it still has the 3rd in it. So you might call it a C added 11th

The next is C/A. This makes this chord a C6 or an Am7. You probably won’t see this because they would just use Am7.

The last one is C/B. You most likely won’t see this because it sounds really bad. This makes this chord a Cmaj7 but if you put the 7th before the root you will hear what I mean even though it is theoretically correct, maybe

Try this with these chords

That second chord sounds bad but it has the same notes as the first chord

It’s a minor ninth interval and is similar to a minor 2nd which you try to avoid playing together.

You could play each note individually and it wouldn’t sound bad but if you play them together they clash.

It’s a mathematical frequency thing but we just need to remember the minor 2nd/9th intervals.

Other Major Scales

Every major and minor chord are in 3 diffeent keys.

The C chord is in the C, F and G scales. this gives us a couple more notes to use.

In the F scale you would have the B♭ or the dominant 7th note that is used quite often

In the key of G you have the F♯ note. This is the flat 5 of the C chord, in this case you would replace the 5(G) note. This might also be called a C flat5 chord.

This note would work in the A minor chord but this would be called an Am6 although you may see Am/F♯.

Drop Progressions

You will see these slash chords in progressions where the bass note drops.

The bottom line is the songwriter wants this specific chord for their song.

You will see sheet music where they should have put a slash chord in the music but they didn’t. This is where knowing about these chords comes in handy.

Eric Clapton’s song Wonderful tonight uses one of these chords in the progression. Led Zepplins’ Stairway to Heaven has one in it too.

G                    D        C                        D
It's late in the eve - ning     she's won-dring what clothes to wear
G                    D        C                        D
She puts on her make -  up        and brush-es her long blonde hair
C                    D            G     D/F♯  Em
   And then she asks -  me        Do I look al-right?    
Em           C                   D
   And I say Yes        You look won-der-ful to-night
G            D                 C                D 

In the line Do I look Al-right the bass is going from G to F♯ to E

The bass guitar is probably doing the same but with a note or two extra.

You would use these chords.

Adding Notes – Slash Chords

Here we add notes by using numbers. Each note in a scale also has a number name that goes with it like below.

If you have some music with a chord symbol like C/add9 or C/9. You just have to add a 9 which is a D to a C chord.

You could have a C6/9 chord wich would mean add a 9 to a C6 chord.