Learning new guitar chords is one of the most exciting parts of being a guitarist. And today, we’ll venture past the basic chords and take you into the world of dominant ninths with the C9 chord.
What Is a C9 Chord?
All dominant ninth guitar chords follow the same pattern. In order to figure out how to play this guitar chord, we need two octaves of the major scale in the key of C:
C – D – E – F – G – A – B – C – D – E – F – G – A – B
First, there is the major triad, or the three notes making up a major guitar chord: the root note, the third degree of the major scale, and the fifth degree.
As you can see from the scale, the root note is C, the third is E, and the fifth is G.
Next, we need to add a flattened seventh, or minor seventh, to the chord. We take the seventh degree and lower it by a half step to get Bb.
Last, we add the ninth degree of the scale, or D. So this guitar chord includes C, E, G, Bb, and D.
How Do You Play a C9 Chord?
Here are two different positions for playing a C9 chord, along with some suggested finger positions! Check out the guitar chord charts here.
The only potential challenge of this chord version is the fact that you need to mute or skip both the high E and the low E. But if you prefer to play further down the fretboard (closer to the headstock), here’s how to play it:
- Place your index finger on the fourth string at the second fret (E).
- Place your middle finger on the fifth string at the third fret (C).
- Place your ring finger on the third string at the third fret (Bb).
- Place your pinky finger on the second string at the third fret (D).
- Don’t play the first or sixth strings!
**This chord does not contain G, but it sounds very close to C9.
This position requires you to have fairly good left hand guitar technique, at least when it comes to barring strings across the fretboard. Here’s how to play it:
- Barre your index finger across all strings at the eighth fret (C, Bb, G).
- Place your middle finger on the third string at the ninth fret (E).
- Place your ring finger on the fifth string at the tenth fret (G).
- Place your pinky finger on the first string at the tenth fret (D).
Keep Diving Into New Chords!
The ninth chord is especially useful in blues, funk, and jazz, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it in other genres. As you get more into playing different voicings and chord types, you’ll discover even more of the powerful nuances of music.
Still have some questions on how to play the C9 chord? Here are some answers:
Not quite. As the name suggests, a Cadd9 chord just has you add the ninth degree of the C major scale (D) to a C major chord. So Cadd9 contains the notes C, E, G, and D.
Dominant ninth chords, on the other hand, are dominant seventh chords with the ninth added. A C7 chord contains the notes C, E, G, and Bb. To get a C9, we just add D as well.
As a side note, both Cadd9 and C9 are different from a C major ninth (Cmaj9) chord. A Cmaj9 includes a major seventh (instead of a flattened seventh), but it’s otherwise the same as C9. So Cmaj9 includes the notes C, E, G, B, and D.
A C9 chord, also called a C dominant ninth chord, is built on a C7 chord. It contains the C major triad (the root, third, and fifth, or C, E, and G), a flattened seventh (Bb), and the ninth scale degree of the C major scale (D).