Welcome to the final installment of Chord by Chord, a series designed to build your understanding of harmony and the fretboard. In an earlier lesson, you learned a handful of dominant ninth chords. This time, you’ll learn how to get a few more under your fingers.

The Work

If you remember, a dominant ninth chord is a dominant seventh chord with the ninth on top. An A7 chord is spelled A C# E G, as shown in Example 1, and A9 adds the note B (Example 2). As you can hear, the incorporation of the ninth lends a jazzy feel.


Example 3 shows how to get to A9 from A7 using barre chords at the fifth fret—all you need to do is add your fourth finger on string 1. Using open chords, Example 4 demonstrates how to turn E7 into E9. Further up the neck, Example 5 shows how to make a seventh-position E7 chord an E9. Note that the root (E) is on string 5, fret 7, and you can conveniently double that note with the open sixth string.

Moving on to F9, try some shapes in first and seventh positions, as depicted in Examples 6 and 7, respectively. These shapes are moveable—that is, they’re identical to those in Exs. 4 and 5, but played one fret higher (minus the sixth string on Ex. 7).

The Result

You should now know how to play A9, E9, and F9 chords across the fretboard. A song that makes use of an E9 chord is “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry. Hopefully, if you’ve kept up with this series, you’ve learned a wide variety of chords to broaden your repertoire, get more creative with songwriting, and play more easily with other musicians. Best of luck with your musical development!