C9 Chord, How To Play the C9 Guitar Chord

Moving chord shapes and basic open chords have been easy for my students to understand over the years, but some seem to get stuck around there. After the 1, 3, 4, and 5th degrees of a scale, they sometimes want to throw in the towel. 

9th chords are a great way to step just a little beyond the basics and get you playing more interesting and crowd-pleasing chords. From Jazz to Pop, the 9th chord is a great chord to know. 

A C9 chord consists of 5 notes, which sounds daunting, but I’m going to show you several easy ways to play the C9 chord all across the neck.

What Notes Are in the C9 Chord?

First, it’s important to learn what notes make up the C9 chord, so you have a better understanding of the chord itself and how to use it appropriately. 

The C9 chord is made up of the notes C, E, G, Bb, and D. Which are the 1st, 3rd, 5th, flatted 7th(b7), and 9th degrees of the C major scale. The C9 chord is a C-dominant 7th chord with an added 9th. It’s known to be in a lot of Blues and Jazz Progressions.

How to Play C9 on Guitar

I am going to give you a step-by-step guide on how to play the C9 chord. It’s a complex chord, but you’ll be able to get it in no time! 

We will start with this C9 chord.

Example 1

With this chord, you’ll be using all four fingers of the left hand to hold down notes. Your right hand will only play the middle four strings, but you can also add the high G in the B string and play all 5 top strings, see example 2. 

Example 1 

  1. Your index finger will hold down the E (3rd) on the 2nd fret of the D string. 
  2. Your ring finger will hold down the 2nd fret of the D string, an E. 
  3. The ring finger will anchor on Bb(b7) on the 3rd fret of the G string. 
  4. Then finally, your pinky will be on the D(9th), which is the 3rd fret of the b string.

It’s ok if you hit the top E string because E is in the C9 chord, but it typically isn’t done on the low E string because that changes the root to E, and you’ll have a slash chord. 

Example 2

Example 2 is the same chord with an added high G on the high e string. 

Other Ways to Play the C9 Chord

The C9 chord can seem like an advanced chord to most budding guitarists, but in reality, it can be as easy as going through open chord changes. Above, we explored the C9 in the second position. Let’s look at other ways you can play a C9 chord on the guitar. 

Top Four Strings Only 

Playing a C9 chord while only using the top 4 strings will sound uplifting, and there are a few places you can do this. The first one we will look at is in the 5th position of the guitar. You’ll be using all four fingers of the left hand while only playing the top four strings with the right hand. 

5th Position C9 Chord With Partial Barr 

  1. The index finger will press down on the 5th fret of the B, G, and D strings. 
  2. The middle finger will stretch to the 6th fret of the high e string. 
  3. The ring finger will play the 7th fret of the G string. 
  4. Play all four top strings, D, G, B, and e, with your right hand. If the G and E don’t ring out, press more on your index finger. 

Example 3

5th Position C9 Chord

This C9 Chord is very similar to the open C chord we play in the 3rd position, but it starts on the 5th fret of the B string. 

  1. Your index finger will play the 5th fret of the B string, an E. 
  2. Your middle finger will play the 7th fret of the G string, a D. 
  3. Your Ring Finger will be on the 8th fret of the D string, a Bb
  4. Finally, the pinky will play the 8th fret of the high e string, a C. 
  5. Strum all four top strings, D, G, B, and e, with your right hand. 

Example 4

7th Position C9 Chord

From the 5th position C9, you’ll move the E to a G while rearranging your fingers. 

  1. The index finger will be on the 7th fret of the G string, playing a D. 
  2. Your middle finger will be on the 8th fret of the D string, a Bb. 
  3. The ring finger will play the 8th fret of the B string, playing a G
  4. The pinky will play the 8th fret of the high e string, a C. 
  5. Strum the four top strings with your right hand. 

Example 5

8th position C9 chord, 4th Inversion

The reason this is called the 4th inversion is that the lowest note in this chord is the 4th inversion of the C9 chord, making the lowest note a D. 

  1. Your index finger will play the 8th fret of the high e string, a C
  2. Your middle finger will play the 9th fret of the G string, an E. 
  3. The ring finger will play the 11 the fret of the B string, a Bb. 
  4. Place your pinky on the 12th fret of the D string, a D. 

Example 6

8th Position, 3rd inversion

The 3rd inversion of a C9 is Bb. 

  1. The first finger has a partial barr across the D, G, and B strings of the 8th fret. Your finger should be in a position that makes the Bb and G ring out. Adjust as necessary. 
  2. Your second finger will be on the 9th fret of the G string, playing an E. 
  3. The ring finger will be on the 10th fret of the high e string, on D. 
  4. With your right hand, play all four top strings, A, D, G, B, and e.  

Example 7

9th Position C9 chord

This position will also sound uplifting on the guitar. 

  1. Your index finger will be on the 9th fret of the G string,  which E. 
  2. Place your middle finger on the 10th fret of the D string, playing a C
  3. The third, or ring finger, will be on the 10th fret of the high e string, playing a D.
  4. Finally, your pinky will play the 11th fret of the high string, which is a Bb.
  5. Strum only the top four strings, making sure each note rings out smoothly.  

Example 8

10th Position C9 Chord

This resembles the C major chord in the 1st position. 

  1. Your index finger will be on the 10th fret of the high e string, D.
  2. Your middle finger will be on the 11th fret of the B string, Bb.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 12th fret of the G string, which is also G. 
  4. Your pinky will play the 14th fret of the D string, an E. 
  5. Again, play all 4 top strings only. 

Example 9

Middle Four String Method 

Next to the highest four-string method, this is easy, and with the C9 chord. There are two places you can play this middle four-string method for a C9 chord. This example is of the 7th position. 

3rd position C9, 1st inversion

This has a partial barr, and you do not use your ring finger. 

  1. With your first finger, barr the 3rd fret of the G and B strings. 
  2. Your middle finger will be placed on the 5th fret of the D string, on G.
  3. Your pinky will stretch to the 7th fret of the A string, E. 
  4. Play only the middle four strings, A, D, G, and B. 

Example 10

7th Position C9, 1st inversion

  1. Your index finger will play the 7th fret of the A string, which is E.  
  2. The index finger should be playing the 7th fret of the G string, which is D.
  3. Your ring finger will play the 8th fret of the D string, which is Bb.
  4. Your pinky will stretch out to play the 8th fret of the B string, which is G.
  5. Play the four middle strings, making sure to keep the E strings muted. 

Example 11

9th Position C9, 2nd inversion

  1. Your index finger will be on the 9th fret of the G string, E.
  2. The middle finger will be on the 10th fret of the A string, G
  3. The ring finger will play the 11th fret of the B string, Bb.
  4. Finally, the pinky will be on the 12th fret of the D string, which is also D.
  5. Play only the middle strings. 

Example 12

With Your Thumb

With your Thumb and in the 7th position, playing the bottom five strings. 

  1. Your thumb will reach over the neck and hold down the 8th fret of the E string, which is a C. 
  2. The index finger will play the 7th fret of the A string, an E. 
  3. Your middle finger will play the 7th fret of the G string, a D
  4. The middle finger will play the 8th fret of the D string, a Bb
  5. And the pinky will play the 8th fret of the B strip, a G. 
  6. Play all five bottom strings. 

Example 13

With a Barr

Barr chords are a common type of chord with musicians done properly. They can sound full compared to other chords. With the C9 chord, it only happens once though, and in the 8th position. 

  1. First, barr with your index finger across the 8th fret, keeping note that there are three notes that have to ring out from the Barr of your finger.  Playing from this barr are the C, Bb, ad G on the 8th fret. 
  2. Your middle finger will press the E on the 9th fret of the G string.
  3. The ring finger will play the 10th fret of the A string, a G.
  4. The pinky will play the 10th fret of the high e string, D. 
  5. Strum all 6 strings 

Example 14

C9 With String Skipping

String skipping just means that you will be omitting a string when you play a chord. It is hard at first if you are a beginner, but this technique will improve with practice. Try going slow and speed up as you get more comfortable. 

3rd Position C9, skipping the D string. 

Of course, you can play the D string if you wanted to, but some choose to omit it because the higher D is utilized better in this particular voicing. 

  1. Starting with your ring finger, press the 3rd fret of the A string, C. 
  2. The ring finger will press the 3rd fret of the G string, Bb.
  3. Last, the pinky will press the 3rd fret of the B string, D. 
  4. Play only the A, G, and B strings. Make sure to use muting techniques with your right hand and left so that’s you only let the proper notes ring out. Adjust accordingly.  

Example 15

5th Position C9, skipping the A string

This chord variation uses both a partial barr and string skipping. Make sure to sound out each note before moving on. This is a difficult C9 position. 

  1. With your index finger, barr the 5th fret of the D, G and E strings. 
  2. Your middle finger will press the 6th fret of the high e string, Bb.
  3. Your ring finger will press the 7th fret of the G string, D.
  4. Stretch your pink to the 8th fret of the E string, C. 
  5. Play all strings except the A string. 

Example 16

5th Position C9, skipping the A string, 2nd version

This does not use a partial barr, nor does it use the high e string. This version may be a little easier to play than the one above, but as you play it, notice the voicing isn’t as bright. 

  1. Your index finger will play the 5th fret of the B string, E. 
  2. Your middle finger will press on the 7th fret of the G string, D.
  3. The ring finger will stretch up to the 8th fret of the E string, C.
  4. Place your pinky on the 8th fret of the D string, Bb. 
  5. Play only the E, D, G and B strings. 

Example 17

12th position C9 with string skipping

  1. Place your index finger on the 12th fret of the high e string
  2. Your middle finger will stretch out to the 15th fret of the A string, C.
  3. Press your middle finger on the 15th fret of the G string. 
  4. Finally, your pinky will press the 15th fret of the b string, D. 
  5. Play only the A, D, G and B strings.  

Example 18

Which Famous Songs Use A C9 Chord?

Blues, funk, and jazz are a few genres that use the C9 chord a lot. It’s an uplifting and curious chord that can also be a showy chord for guitarists. It plays well with the Major scale, so many songs can add in a 9th chord, and it will sound great. Some of the most well-known songs that use C9 are:

  1. Affirmation by George Benson
  2. It’s Still Rock N’ Roll To Me by Billy Joel
  3. Yesterday by The Beatles

When Should I Use the C9 Chord?

When you use a C9 chord, it is usually part of a chord progression. A chord progression often has distinctive changes that help the song flow. Just because you are adding a 9th, it doesn’t change the harmonic flow of the chord. You can add a C9 to any chord progression based on the Major scale. 

Other chords you can play with a C9 chord include the following: 

  1. A minor
  2. B minor
  3. C Major
  4. D Minor 
  5. E Minor 
  6. F Major
  7. G Major

Every genre of music has distinct characteristics that make it distinguishable. Sometimes these are by playing with the Major and minor influences of a chord. An easy C9 chord progression would be C9, F, and G, or C9, F9, G9, etc. 

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C9 Chord, How To Play the C9 Guitar Chord
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