Guitar Chords Explained Free Lesson (March 2010)

Guitar chords are created from the notes of the scale you are playing, keeping in mind that we can bend, slur or slide to notes that are between frets. This is to embellish the notes when playing a solo. We leave them out when creating a chord. We may also leave notes out of a chord, another instrument in the band may play the missing note.

Give the notes of the C major scale numbers 1 to 13.
C = 1
D = 2
E = 3, (Eb = b3)
F = 4
G = 5
A = 6
B = 7, (Bb = b7)
and C can = 1 or 8
keep going up
D = 2 or 9
E = 3 or 10
F = 4 or 11
G = 5 or 12
A = 6 or 13.

The notes, after 'keep go up' are used like this.
Flatten the 7 = B note to make Bb
then use 9 = D
11 = F
13 = A.

The C13th chord is made from:
1 = C, 3 = E, 5 = G, 7 = B flatten to Bb, 9 = D, 11 = F, and A = 13.

All these notes are hard to finger at the same time so you can drop notes (not use certain notes). It will sound different with missing notes but still remain in context (sound correct).

In this instance you could drop the 9 = D and 11 = F but keep the A = 13, always keep the flattened 7 = B which is Bb.

If you were creating an 11th chord you could drop the 9 = D note.

The even notes and numbers remain the same 10 = E stays as 3, 12 = G stays as 5.

You may have noticed that in the example of the 13th chord, the seventh degree which would normally be played as a B note has been altered to Bb.
Where we have 1st, 3rd and 7th = b7(not major 7), 9th, 11th and 13th chords. These are called dominant 7th chords.

The 'Hendrix' chord E7#9 is made from 1st, 3rd, b7th, #9 of the E major scale. Notice in this example the 5th degree may be omitted.
The chord sounds best in the key of E with an open E = 1 on the sixth string.
This chord can sound really bad when it is played in the key of F at the first fret.

Cmaj7 is made up using 1 = C, 3 = E, 5 = G, 7 = B

Cmaj9 would be made from 1 = C, 3 = E, 5 = G,
7 = B, 9 = B. You could omit 3 = E.

This is something to think about. You don't have to select a 9 note that is a higher pitch than a 7 note.

Guitarmodes Lesson page makes this chord structure information easy to locate from all scales in all keys.

16 Mar 2010