Guitar Lesson

Difference Between add9 and 9 Chords

Author: Nate Dean

Difficulty: intermediate

Open String Chord Shapes

Here are some diagrams to help you understand these chords, like the pros do, with numbers. Knowing how to construct chords using numbers of the Major Scale gives you options of which fingerings to play, freeing you from boring memorization of endless different shapes.

Knowing how spell out chords and construct shapes is Guitar Thinking!

Add 9 is spelled – 1 3 5 9

9 is spelled – 1 3 5 b7 9

Maj 9 is spelled – 1 3 5 7 9

With Numbers of the Major Scale (in red)

Notice that in this example, our fingerings of both A9 and Amaj9 do not use the third note of the scale, even though it is contained within the spelling of the chord. While this is not always desirable (sometimes we want to hear the third so we can distinguish major or minor) – it is okay. When chords start getting thick like this, these examples using five unique notes, it is OKAY to leave notes out! In fact, advanced jazz guitar lessons spend a lot of time teaching players how to leave notes OUT of chords. Even the “1" or "root" note doesn’t HAVE to be played.