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How to Make Guitar ChordsUsing the Major Scale

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.

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.

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

How to Make Major 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

How to Make Minor 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

How to Make Augmented 5th 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.

How to Make Diminished 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.

How to Make Suspended 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

How to Make Dominant 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

How to Make Altered 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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