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How to play the C7b9 chord on guitar

Unlock the jazzy sounds of "The Girl from Ipanema" and "Satin Doll" with one chord.

The C7b9 chord

The C7b9 chord, pronounced "C seven flat nine," is a rich and complex chord commonly used in jazz, blues, and funk music. It adds a tense, dissonant flavor to progressions and is notable for its distinct "jazziness." The C7b9 voicing is movable and can be played in various positions on the guitar neck, making it a versatile choice for adding spice to your playing.

There are many ways to play a chord. Here's a diagram for the most common C7b9 chord. We've also included other versions below.

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Finger placement for C7b9 chord

The most common way to play the C7b9 chord on guitar is as a barre chord on the 6th fret.

Follow these finger positions to play a C7b9 chord on your guitar:

  1. Barre your index finger across all six strings on the 6th fret.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 7th fret of the 3rd (G) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 8th fret of the 5th (A) string.
  4. Place your pinky finger on the 8th fret of the 4th (D) string.

To strum this chord, play all six strings together in a downward motion. You can also try alternating between down and up strums for a more dynamic sound.

How to play an easy C7b9 chord on guitar

If you're a beginner looking to play a simpler version of the C7b9 chord, try playing it as an open chord instead:

  1. Place your index finger on the 1st fret of the 2nd (B) string.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the 4th (D) string.
  3. Strum only the top four strings.

How to play a C7b9 bar chord

Playing the C7b9 chord as a barre chord can make it easier to switch to and from other chords quickly, and it gives the chord a fuller, richer sound compared to the open version.

Here's how to play a C7b9 bar chord:

  1. Place your index finger across the 3rd fret, covering all six strings (this is the barre).
  2. Place your middle finger on the 4th fret of the 4th (D) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 5th fret of the 5th (A) string.
  4. Place your pinky finger on the 5th fret of the 3rd (G) string.
  5. Strum all six strings from the 6th (low E) string down to the 1st (high E) string.

Common C7b9 chord progressions

The C7b9 chord is often used in blues, jazz, and rock music to add tension and dissonance to a chord progression, creating a sense of unresolved longing or edginess. Some common chord progressions featuring the C7b9 chord include:

  • I7b9 - IV7 - I7b9 (C7b9 - F7 - C7b9). Used in "The Thrill Is Gone" by B.B. King.
  • I7b9 - IV7 - V7 - I7b9 (C7b9 - F7 - G7 - C7b9).
  • I7b9 - bVI7 - II7 - V7 (C7b9 - Ab7 - D7 - G7). Used in "Stormy Monday" by T-Bone Walker.
  • I7b9 - III7b9 - VI7b9 - II7b9 - V7#9 - I7b9 (C7b9 - E7b9 - A7b9 - D7b9 - G7#9 - C7b9).
  • I7b9 - IV7 - bVII7 - I7b9 (C7b9 - F7 - Bb7 - C7b9).

Drills to master the C7b9 chord

To master the C7b9 guitar chord, try playing it in different rhythmic patterns. Start with quarter notes, then eighth notes, and finally sixteenth notes. Focus on maintaining a consistent tempo and clean sound. Incorporate the chord into progressions you already know, such as the 12-bar blues or ii-V-I progressions.

Another effective drill is to practice transitioning smoothly between C7b9 and other common chords like Fm7, G7, or Cmaj7. Work on minimizing any buzzing or muted notes during these transitions. With regular practice, you'll soon be playing the C7b9 chord with confidence and precision.

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Songs that feature the C7b9 chord

Here are 10 popular songs you can play with the C7b9 chord.

  1. Hit the Road Jack by Ray Charles (C, Am, F, G, G7, C7b9)
  2. Stormy Monday by T-Bone Walker (G7, C7, C7b9, F9)
  3. Watermelon Man by Herbie Hancock (F, D7b9, G7b9, C7b9)
  4. Straight, No Chaser by Thelonious Monk (F7, Bb7, Eb7, Ab7, C7b9)
  5. Since I've Been Loving You by Led Zeppelin (C7b9, G7b9)
  6. The Thrill is Gone by B.B. King (Bm7, E7b9, C7b9, F7b9)
  7. Birdland by Weather Report (Bb7, Eb7, C7b9, F7b9)
  8. Chameleon by Herbie Hancock (Bbm7, Eb7, C7b9, F7b9)
  9. All Blues by Miles Davis (G7, C7, C7b9, F7, Bb7, Eb7)
  10. Blue Monk by Thelonious Monk (Bb7, Eb7, C7b9, F7)

How a guitar teacher can help

If you feel stuck in your playing, it might help to take personalized guitar lessons with an expert guitarist. Taking lessons with a pro gives you access to the skills, feedback, and motivation to reach your goals.

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