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CHORD THEORY

compiled by Paul Zimmerman


I. The Fret Board
==================
The first that you will need to learn is the notes on the fretboard.
It is very important to any theory on guitar to know where the notes
are on the neck. At first, memorize the notes on the first couple
of strings. Then figure out what the notes on the rest of the
strings will be. In a pretty short amount of time you should be
able to do that. In time you'll develop more of a feel for where
the notes fall, without having to think about it, but that's not
necessary for chord theory. What you really need to be able to do
is to be able to figure out what notes you're playing in a given
chord.
e||-F--|-F#-|-G--|-G#-|-A--|
B||-C--|-C#-|-D--|-D#-|-E--|
Note: # = sharp
G||-G#-|-A--|-A#-|-B--|-C--|
b = flat
D||-D#-|-E--|-F--|-F#-|-G--|
A||-A#-|-B--|-C--|-C#-|-D--|-D#-|-E--|-F--|-F#-|-G--|-G#-|-A--|
E||-F--|-F#-|-G--|-G#-|-A--|-A#-|-B--|-C--|-C#-|-D--|-D#-|-E--|
Notice that there is a full step between all notes except for B and
C, and E and F. For the sake of simplicity I have only shown
sharps, but it is important to understand where.the flats are. A#
(# = sharp) is equal to Bb (b = flat). D# is equal to Eb. B# is
equal to C, and Cb is equal to B. Once again, for the purpose of
chord theory, it is not necessary to be instantly familiar with
every note on the fretboard. What is necessary is to be able to
figure out the notes of any given chord that you are playing.
II. Keys (the Circle of fifths)
================================
The next step in understanding any guitar theory is to understand
the circle of fifths. Its importance is that it diagrams several
important concepts. First, it is used in determining scales.
Second, it is used to determine which chords are in any given key.
Third, it is the basis for chord substitutions.
To begin with, I'll demonstrate how the circle of fifths is used in
a blues progression in G (something that hopefully everyone is
familiar with). Twelve bar blues in G begins with 4 bars of G, 2
bars of C, 2 bars of G, one bar of D7, one bar of C, one bar of G,
and finally one bar of D7 (as shown below). This progression is
also commonly known as
|G

|G

|G

|G

|C

|C

|G

|G

|D7 |C

|G

|D7 |

a I - IV - V progression. If you are not familiar with this


progression, learn it. It is one of the most basic building blocks
in rock music. Traces of it can be found in everything from Led
Zeppelin to Doo-Wop to surf music to Eric Clapton.

The next diagram shows the chords that are in the key of G.
I II III IV V VI VII
G A B C D E F#
As you can see, the G is the I, the C is the IV, and the D7 is the V
in the I- IV - V progression. Any F chords played in the key of G
need to be sharped, otherwise they are considered to be out of key.
In the same way, the circle of fifths shows which notes need to
sharped or flatted in chord constuction. To form a major chord, the
first, third, and fifth notes of the scale need to be played. In
the case of Gmajor (or just G as it is commonly called), a G note
would be 1, a B note would be 3, and a D note would be 5.
e||---|---|-o-|---|
B||---|---|---|---|
G||---|---|---|---|
D||---|---|---|---|
A||---|-o-|---|---|
E||---|---|-o-|---|

G
B
G
D
B
G

(1)
(3)
(1)
(5)
(3)
(1)

As you can see, the open G chord


is made up entirely of G, B, and D notes
(I, 3, and 5). Note that any G chord
requires a 7 note to be played would
be an F#, not an F.

For the third part, the Circle of fifths gives an indication of when
to play minors, etc. The following chart shows some guidelines.
Later on
I = major
II = minor7
III = minor7
IV = major
V = dominant7
VI = minor (known also as the relative minor)
VII = diminished
I will show some substitution rules for incorporating more unusual
chords into a progression. It is important to remember that these
rules are only general guidelines. If you look at the chords of
some songs that you know, you will probably see that as a general
trend, these rules are followed, but on many occasions they aren't.
One thing to keep in mind: a chord progression may be in the key of
A (A is the I chord) without playing an A chord first. Look at the
following
example.
|E

|E

|A

|D

This the chord progression in Lola, by the Kinks. In this case, it


is in the key of A (A = I, D = IV, E = V). This shows that the
first chord played in a progression does not determine the key.
Another example is the IIm - V - I chord progression, which is one
of the most common in western music. As you can see, it starts on
the IIm chord.
Since I don't have very good graphics capabilities here, I will
represent the circle of fifths in chart form, as would be read
clockwise from 12 o'clock.
C - no sharps or flats.

G - F#
D - F#, C#
A - F#, C#, G#
E - F#, C#, G#, D#
B - F#, C#, G#, D#, A#
F# (Gb) - F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E# (F)
Db - Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb
Ab - Bb, Eb, Ab, Db
Eb - Bb, Eb, Ab
Bb - Bb, Eb
F - Bb
Notice the spacing between chords is the same for each key. Here is
the example again in the key of G.
I
G

II
A

III
B

IV
C

V
D

VI
E

VII
F#

Notice that there is a whole step between all chords except between
III and IV, and between VII and I. This will be true for all keys.
That pattern is also the same as that for the major scale. The
above diagram shows the notes contained in the G major scale.
The VI chord is called the relative minor, because it shares many
notes with the tonic (I chord). If C were the tonic, Am would be
the relative minor. If you play one after the other, you will
notice they sound good together. If something is played in an Am
key, you use the exact same chords as if it were being played in the
key of C. In this way, you can determine all of the mionr keys as
well from the circle of fifths.
3. Chord Construction
======================
A chord is a group of three or more different notes played together.
Every chord is based on a specific formula which relates back to the
major scale after which it is named. As shown earlier, the formula
for a major chord is 1 3 5 hence a G major (GM) chord consists of
the first, third, and fifth notes of the G major scale, G B D (refer
to the circle of fifths chart). **Note the ROOT note is the note
after which the chord is named (the 1 note).
The formula for a minor chord is 1 b3 5. In the case of a G minor
(Gm) the notes would be G Bb D. **Note: a G flat major (Gb) is Gb
Bb Db, therefore a Gbm (G flat minor) would be Gb Bbb Db, or Gb A
Db. There are many cases where a flatted note has to be flatted
again according to the chord formula.
In the following diagrams I will show the names, formulas, and
fingerings for over 30 of the most common chords. The numbers show
where to fret the strings and with which finger. A 1===1 means to
barre that number of strings with your index finger. Any notes with
a question mark ? underneath are optional (can be muted). Any
strings with no note shown below are not to be played. Sharp and
flat symbols will come before the note (b3). Shown are the most
common barre chord fingerings (all open chords can be derived from
the barre chord shapes). Not all chords have the root as the bass
note, but most do. 1 = index finger, 2 = ring, 3 = middle, 4 = pinky.

Name: Major
+-+-+-+-+-+
How it's written: M* +-+-+-+-+-+
Formula: 1 3 5
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
1=========1
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | 2 | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| 3 4 | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+

+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
1=========1
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | 3===3 |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+

+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | 1===1
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | 2 |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | 3 | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| 4 | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+

1 5 1 3 5 1

5 1 5 1 3 5
1 3 5 1 3
?
?
* G major can either be written GM or more commonly just G.
======================================================================
Minor
m
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 b3 5
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1=========1
1=========1
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | 2 |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| 3 4 | | |
| | 3 4 | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 5 1b3 5 1

5 1 5 1b3 5
?

This is the last standard minor that I will diagram. All chords can
be turned into a minor by flatting the 3 note. I will diagram a
couple that are not apparent, but the rest are very easy to figure
out using this formula.
======================================================================
Fifth
5
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 5
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 | | | | |
| 1 | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| 3 4 | | |
| | 3=3 | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 5 1

1 5 1

======================================================================
Suspended 2
sus2
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+

1 2 5

+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
1=========1
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | 3 4 | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+

+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | 1=1 | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | 2 |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| 3 | | | 4
+-+-+-+-+-+

5 1 5 1 2 5
1 2 5 1 5
?
?
======================================================================
Suspended 4
sus4
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 4 5
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1=========1
1=========1
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| 3===3 | |
| | 3=3 | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | 4 |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 5 1 4 5 1
5 1 5 1 4 5
? ?
?
?
======================================================================
Suspended 2 Suspended 4
sus2sus4
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 2 4 5
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1=========1
| 1=======1
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | 3 | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | 4 |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
5 1 4 1 2 5
5 1 4 1 2
?
======================================================================
Major add 9*
add9
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 3 5 9 (or 2)
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1=========1
1=========1
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | 2 | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| 3=3 | | 4
| | 3===3 |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+

| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+

| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | 4 | |
+-+-+-+-+-+

1 5 1 3 5 9

5 1 5 9 3 5
?
?
* 9 = 2, but one octave higher:1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 2 (or 9) 3 4 (or 11)
5 6 (or 13)
======================================================================
Major 6
6 or M6
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 3 5 6
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1=========1
1=========1
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | 2 | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| 3=3 | 4 |
| | 3=====3
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 5 1 3 6 1
5 1 5 1 3 6
======================================================================
Major 6 add 9
6add9
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 3 5 6 9
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | 1=====1
| 1=======1
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | 2 | |
3 | | 4 | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
4 | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1

5 9 3 6

3 5 1 5 6 9

======================================================================
Dominant 7
7
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 3 5 b7
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1=========1
1=========1
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | 2 | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| 3 | | | |
| | 3===3 |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | 4
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 5 b73 5 1

5 1 5 1 3 b7
?

+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
1=========1
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | 2 | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| 3 | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | 4 |
+-+-+-+-+-+

+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
1=========1
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | 3 | 4 |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+

1 5 b73 b71

5 1 5 b73 5
?
======================================================================
Minor add 9
m add9
1 b3 5 9
======================================================================
Minor 6
m6
1 b3 5 6
======================================================================
Minor 7
m7
1 b3 5 b7
======================================================================
Minor 6 add 9
m6 add9
1 b3 5 6 9
======================================================================
Seven suspended 4
7sus4
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 4 5 b7
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1=========1
1=========1
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| 3 | 4 | |
| | 3 | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | 4 |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 5 b74 5 1

5 1 5 b74 5
?
======================================================================
Major 7
X
M7
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 3 5 7
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1=========1
1=========1
| | | 1===1
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | 3 2 | |
| | | 2 | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| 4 | | | |
| | 3 | 4 |
| | 3 | | |

+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+

+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+

+-+-+-+-+-+
| 4 | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+

1 5 7 3 5 1

5 1 5 7 3 5
1 3 5 7 3
?
======================================================================
Minor Major 7
mM7
1 b3 5 7
======================================================================
Augmented
X
X X
+
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 3 #5
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | 1=1 |
| | | | | 1
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | 2 | | |
| | | 3 2 |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| 3 | | | |
| | 4 | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | 4
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 3#5 1 #5
#5 1 3#5 3
3#5 1 3 1

#5 1 3 #5
1 3#5 1
3#5 1 3

Because of the nature of the formulat for augmented chords, any note played
could be considered the root. Therefore, Ab+, C+, and E+ can all have exactly
the same shape at the same location on the neck. The same concept applies to
diminished chords.
======================================================================
Diminished 7
X X
dim7
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 b3 b5 bb7
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1=========1
| | 1 | 2 |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| 2 | | | |
| | | 3 | 4
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | 3 | 4 |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
First shape: 1 b5 1 b3 bb7 1, b3 bb7 b3 b5 1 b3, b5 1 b5 bb7 b3 1, or
bb7 b3 bb7 1 b5 bb7
Second shape: 1 b5 bb7 b3, b3 bb7 1 b5, b5 1 b3 bb7, or bb7 b3 b5 1
======================================================================
Ninth
X
9
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 3 5 b7 9
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1=========1
| | 1 | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | 2 | |
| 2 | 3===3

+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| 3 | | | 4
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 5 b73 1 9
1 3 b79 5
======================================================================
Minor 9
m9
1 b3 5 b7 9
======================================================================
Major 9
M9
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 3 5 7 9
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| 1=======1
1=========1
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
2 | | | 3 |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | 4 | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| 4 | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 3 7 9 5 7

3 1 9 5 7 3

+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
1=========1
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | 2 | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | 3 | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+

X
X
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | 1 | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| 2 | | 3 |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | 4 | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+

5 1 5 7 9 5
?

1 3 7 9

(no fifth)

======================================================================
Eleventh
X
11
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 3 5 b7 9 11
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| 1=======1
1=========1
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | 2 | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | 3
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 11b79 5
1 11b73 5 9
======================================================================
Minor 11th
X

m11
1 b3 5 b7 9 11

+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| 1=======1
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | 2 |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+

+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
1=========1
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | 3
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+

1 11b7b35
(no ninth)

1 11b7b35 9

======================================================================
Thirteenth
13
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 3 5 b7 9 13
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1=========1
1=========1
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | 2 | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| 3 | | 4=4
| | 2 | 3 4
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 5 b73 139

5 1 5 b73 13

X
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | 1 | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| 2 | 3=3 |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | 4
+-+-+-+-+-+

X
+-+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
1 | 2 | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | 3 | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | 4=4
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+

1 3 b79 13
1 b7 3 139
======================================================================
Minor 13th
m13
1 b3 5 b7 9 13
The following is a chart of chords which have a slight alteration to
one of the given formulas, and are therefore called altered chords.
Chord Name
---------Major flat five
Minor seven flat five

Chord Formula
------------1 3 b5
1 b3 b5 b7

Example
------Cb5: C E Gb
Cm7b5: C Eb Gb Bb

Seven sharp five


Seven flat five
Seven sharp nine
Seven flat nine
Seven sharp five flat nine
Nine sharp five
Nine flat five
Nine sharp eleven
Minor nine major seven
Thirteen flat nine
Thirteen flat five flat nine
Db A

1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1

3 #5 b7
3 b5 b7
3 5 b7 #9
3 5 b7 b9
3 #5 b7 b9
3 #5 b7 9
3 b5 b7 9
3 5 b7 9 11#
b3 5 7 9
3 5 b7 b9 13
3 b5 b7 b9 13

C7#5: C E G# Bb
C7b5: C E Gb Bb
C7#9: C E G Bb D#
C7b9: C E G Bb Db
C7#5b9: C E G# Bb Db
C9#5: C E G# Bb D
C9b5: C E Gb Bb D
C9#11: C E G Bb D F#
Cm9(M7): C Eb G B D
C13b9: C E G Bb Db A
C13b5b9: C E Gb Bb

In altered chords, the notes to be altered are always written as


part of the chord name, enabling you to construct the chord. For
example, Cm7#5b9 (not listed above) is a Cm7 chord with the fifth
sharped and the ninth flatted.
Another type of alteration occurs when chord symbols are written
thus:
G/F#, or C/G.
Finger the chord to the left of the slash, then change the note on
the bass string to the note to the right of the slash.
Here are the substitution rules for altered chords:
9, b9, or #9 replaces 1
sus2, sus4, or b3 replaces 3
b5, #5, #11, or 13 replaces 5
Chord Substitutions
===================
Remember this chart from earlier? It shows the common chords for
each key.
I = major
II = minor 7
III = minor 7
IV = major
V = dominant 7
VI = minor (relative minor)
VII = diminished
The following chart displays common chord substitutions for the M,
m, m7 and diminished chords shown above.
Major:
Minor:
m7:
7:
dim:

6, M7, M9, sus2, sus4, sus2sus4, Madd9, 6add9, M7#11, M9#11


m, m6, mM7, mM9, mM7#11, m6add9
m7, m9, m11, m13, m7#5, m7b5
9, 11, 13, 7sus4, 7sus2, 13sus4, 7b5, 7#5
m7b5

I haven't included everything, because you can easily tell which


category a chord belongs to. Cmajor13 substitutes for any major (I,
IV). G7b5b9 susbstitutes for a dominant 7 chord, etc. There are
also a few chords that are not shown in the diagrams, but you should
be able to figure those out too. Cmajor 13 is 1 3 5 7 9 and 13,

G7sus2 is 1 2 5 b7, etc.


It is important to keep in mind that these are guides, not rules,
and there will be many times when you'll want to break them, which
is fine. If it sounds good, then it is right.
The following is a more in depth description of several chords and
their common uses.
Major 7 - gives a fuller sound, often used in jazz
Major 9 - used in jazz
Major6add9 - used often in country and in jazz
Suspended chords usually resolve to the major, often used to break
up a static
vamp (instead a playing C the whole time, switch from C to Csus
to C, etc)
Minor - sad chord
m6 - used in funk
m7 - used in funk
m7#5 - used in fusion
m11 - used in funk
m(M7) - dark, moody
Ninth - used in funk
Augmented - connecting chord
Diminished - passing chord
7sus2 - used in folk
m#5 - often used as a IIIm chord
maj13#11 - used in soul
9#11 - chromatic passing chord resolving down a half step, or as a
substitute
for a IV7 chord
13#11 - same usage as 9#11
M7#11 - dramatic ending chord
M7b5#9 - ending chord, or a passing chord to I
m7b5 - usually used as a IIm in a minor key
9sus4 (11) - most popular substitution for dominant 7 chords
Augmented 7 - V chord in a minor key
Diminished - substitute for second half of IV chord measure in the
blues, one
half step higher (C = I, F = IV, F#dim would be used)
The V chord may be substituted on the weak beats (2 and 4) for a Im
7sus4b9 - V chord resolving to Im, or as I chord in Phrygian mode
m7#5 - IIIm in the harmonized major scale
13b9 - V7 chord
Alternate from M6 to M7 and back when playing a static I chord
Common chord progressions:
I - IV - V7
IIm - V - I
Iv - IVm - I
This diagram will help to show some fingerings for many of the
altered chords. After studying these two examples, you should be
able to figure out the rest of the altered chords. The numbers on
the frets are the notes, not the fingerings (R = root, 3 = third,
etc).

C9
+----+----+----+----+----+
+----+----+----+----+----+
|
|
|
|
|
|
+----+----+----+----+----+
|
|
3
|
|
|
+----+----+----+----+----+
|
R
|
b7 9
5
+----+----+----+----+----+
|
|
|
|
|
|
+----+----+----+----+----+
|
|
|
|
|
|
+----+----+----+----+----+
|
|
|
|
|
|
+----+----+----+----+----+

+----+----+----+----+----+
+----+----+----+----+----+
|
|
b3 |
|
|
+----+----+----+----+----+
|
|
3
|
b9 b5
+----+----+----+----+----+
|
R
|
b7 9
5
+----+----+----+----+----+
|
|
|
|
#9 #5
+----+----+----+----+----+
|
|
|
|
| 13
+----+----+----+----+----+
|
|
|
|
|
|
+----+----+----+----+----+

C
+----+----+----+----+----+
+----+----+----+----+----+
|
|
|
|
|
|
+----+----+----+----+----+
|
|
|
|
|
|
+----+----+----+----+----+
(5) R
|
|
| (5)
+----+----+----+----+----+
|
|
|
|
|
|
+----+----+----+----+----+
|
|
5
R
3
|
+----+----+----+----+----+
|
|
|
|
|
|
+----+----+----+----+----+

+----+----+----+----+----+
+----+----+----+----+----+
|
|
|
|
|
|
+----+----+----+----+----+
|
|
|
|
|
|
+----+----+----+----+----+
(5) R
|
b7 2 (5)
+----+----+----+----+----+
|
|
|
7
b3 |
+----+----+----+----+----+
|
|
5
R
3
6
+----+----+----+----+----+
|
|
|
|
4
7
+----+----+----+----+----+

Modes
=====
The last topic I'm going to cover is modes. The reason I'm
including them is that they fit in so well with chord theory (as
does the major scale, which I mentioned much earlier). A mode is
simply a displaced scale. The ones I will show are a C major scale
(no sharps or flats), displaced to D, E, F, etc. The modes are
commonly used in jazz improvisation, but they also appear very often
in rock music. The one thing to remeber about soloing in the modes
is that you need to change modes according to the chord changes, and
also you need to resolve to the root when you make these changes.
The diagrams below show one position for the modes, with the most upto-date method of fingering (but certainly not the only). If you
are soloing in the F - Lydian mode, and need to change to G Lydian, you just slide everything up two frets.
I = Ionian
II = Dorian
III = Phrygian
IV = Lydian
V = Mixolydian
VI = Aeolian
VII = Locrian

F - LYDIAN
E A D G B e
================
+--+--+--+--+--+
(*) | | | | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
| * * * | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
* * (*) | * *
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | * | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
* * * * * *
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | (*) |
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | | *
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
B - LOCRIAN
E A D G B e
================
+--+--+--+--+--+
(*) * * * | |
7 +--+--+--+--+--+
* * | | * *
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | (*) * | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
* * * * * *
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | (*) *
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
E - Phrygian
E A D G B e
================
(*) * * * | |
12 +--+--+--+--+--+
* | | | * *
+--+--+--+--+--+
| * (*) * | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
* * * | * *
+--+--+--+--+--+

G - MIXOLYDIAN
E A D G B e
================
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
(*) * * | | |
3 +--+--+--+--+--+
| | | * | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
* * (*) * * *
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | * |
+--+--+--+--+--+
* * * * | *
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | (*) *
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
C - IONIAN
E A D G B e
================
+--+--+--+--+--+
(*) * | | | |
8 +--+--+--+--+--+
| | * * | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
* * (*) * * *
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
* * * * * *
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | (*) *
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | | |
+--+--+--+--+--+

A - Aeolian (minor "pure" scale)


E A D G B e
================
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
(*) * * * | |
5 +--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | * |
+--+--+--+--+--+
* * (*) * | *
+--+--+--+--+--+
* * | | * *
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | * * | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | (*) *
+--+--+--+--+--+
D - DORIAN
E A D G B e
================
+--+--+--+--+--+
(*) * * * | |
10 +--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
* * (*) * * *
+--+--+--+--+--+
* | | | * *
+--+--+--+--+--+
| * * * | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | (*) *
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | | |
+--+--+--+--+--+

The root notes are in parentheses ().


The number on the left shows what fret
number to start at.

| | | * | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | (*) *
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
| | | | | |
+--+--+--+--+--+
Notice the repeating shapes of the modes. Unlike the scales you may have
previously learned, there is a repetitive pattern to the modes that makes
them easy to remember. A seven string guitar would actually show the
relationship between modes more clearly. This is what the Aeolian mode
would look like on a seven string guitar:
?||---|-*-|---|-*-|-*-|---|---|
?||---|-*-|---|-*-|-*-|---|---|
?||---|-*-|-*-|---|-*-|---|---|
?||---|-*-|-*-|---|-*-|---|---|
?||-*-|---|-*-|---|-*-|---|---|
?||-*-|---|-*-|---|-*-|---|---|
?||-*-|---|-*-|---|-*-|---|---|
There are seven different modes listed above, each one has this pattern,
only slightly altered: they each start at a different fret, and at a
different spot in the above pattern. Since there are only six strings,
the seventh pattern is left off. Also, unlike the fictional guitar
in the above example, the B and high-e strings are tuned higher, so the
pattern on those two strings is pushed up one fret higher.
This is following the pattern first shown in the circle of fifths. Each "-"
represents a half step:
I--II--III-IV--V--VI--VII-I....etc
If C is the I chord, then the III and IV chords will be E and F, and the VII
chord will be B (notice that there is only a half step from E to F, and from
B to C). Therefore the above diagram could also look like this, using Roman
numerals:
?||----|-II-|----|III-|-IV-|----|----|
?||----|-VI-|----|VII-|-I--|----|----|
?||----|III-|-IV-|----|-V--|----|----|
?||----|VII-|-I--|----|-II-|----|----|
?||-IV-|----|-V--|----|-VI-|----|----|
?||-I--|----|-II-|----|III-|-IV-|----|
?||-V--|----|-VI-|----|VII-|-I--|----|
^
|
I put these in to show why there are so many
different fingerings for the same scales. Just
as in tuning, if you go down one string and back
five frets, you get the exact same note.
A very good way to practice the modes (or any scale) is to do backsteps.
Play the first four notes of the scale, then the 2nd - 5th, then the
3rd - 7th, etc, all the way up, then backwards all the way down.
In tab for the Ionian mode in G:

e||---------------------------------------------------------------B||---------------------------------------------------------------G||------------------------------------------------------4-----4-5D||-------------------------------4----4-5---4-5-7-4-5-7---5-7----A||-------3-----3-5---3-5-7-3-5-7---5-7----7----------------------E||-3-5-7---5-7-----7---------------------------------------------e||---------------------------------------5-----5-7---5-7-8B||---------------5-----5-7---5-7-8-5-7-8---7-8-----8------G||---4-5-7-4-5-7---5-7-----7------------------------------D||-7------------------------------------------------------A||--------------------------------------------------------E||--------------------------------------------------------and then repeat in reverse order.


The best modes to concentrate on at first are the Ionian, Dorian, and
Aeolian. These are the most common, and often are used in jazz improvisation.
Chord Voicings
==============
One way that rhythm players keep things interesting is to use different
chord voicings (ie. different ways of playing the same chord). This is a
very common technique for jazz playing, as it allows the rhythm player to
essentially improvise different ways of playing the exact same chords.
In the earlier diagrams I show at least two ways of playing every chord,
but there are in actualality many more ways of playing them. For this, I
recommend a chord encyclopedia. The best one I've seen is the one put out
by Progressive, called something similar to 'Guitar Chords'.
Well, that about raps it up. Hope this helps.
Peace,
Paul Z
-"He that's not busy being born is busy dying" - Bob Dylan