Guitar Lesson: Add 9 Chords
Using the chords
I've shown some great guitar chords here that will hopefully improve your guitar playing - although they are shown in guitar tab for the sake of clarity, you can play all the notes together as a chord too. Chord shapes for all the guitar tab examples are given below.
There are many complex guitar chords that you can find, but sometimes it's difficult to know how to apply them. As you can replace common major and minor chords with these shapes, you can use them in a wide variety of styles, and in many different songs. Here are some of the bands who use them a lot:
- Steely Dan
- The Police
- Crowded House
The sound of these chords is essential if you want to play material by any of these bands - bands which are definitely in the all-time greats list.
I'll often try out chord substitution, just replacing standard chords with more interesting sounding voicings.
Guitar chords with add9 or sus2
Reading Chord Grids
The 6 vertical lines are the strings, and the horizontal lines are the frets. The barre is shown with the loop symbol.
Guitar tab examples
If you play the first 4 bars, it will sound a lot like Every Breath You Take by The Police. It's not exactly the same, and it's in a different key, but it shows what the chords sound like when you play them with arpeggios. Arpeggio is just Italian for "like a harp", that is, one string at a time.
What is an add9 chord? Let's look at G add9 as an example. Counting up the major scale from G, interval 8 is the octave, and the 9th note is an A. So this chord is just a G chord with an added A (add9)
Major scale: G A B C D E F sharp G, A, B, C etc.
Note that G9 is a different chord altogether, as it contains a flat 7 note.
Minor chords work in exactly the same way, so Am add9 is an Am chord with a B added. Here is the sequence of notes from A: A B C D E F G A B
Sus2 is just another name for an add9 chord.
Note 2 and note 9 are the same notes, just in different octaves.
Playing the chords
There are some wide intervals between the notes in these chords. If you have fairly small hands you could start by using a capo, which will reduce the problems, especially if you start with it at fret 5 or so. Also, they are easier on electric guitar.
You could try just incorporating one or two of these chords into a song you know already.
Rikki Don't Lose that Number (Steely Dan) sounds great if you play D add9, A add9, E add9, all in the first position. Try wearing a beret too.
The barre chord shapes are shown with the loop ^ barre chord symbol. These are movable shapes, based on a (root 5) A chord shape. The same shape at fret 3 would be a C add9.
More add9 shapes
The first two shapes are very easy. You can move between these chords and plain major chords to add variety to your chord playing. The C add9 shape is very common, and often leads to G, as shown here.
- The Em9 is one of the best sounding chords on guitar
- The Am add9 is a bit tricky at first - typical of the sound of The Police.