Guitar Lessons – Understanding “Major” Guitar Chords For Jazz, Blues, Rock & Country Guitarists

Alison Rombough

Understanding Guitar Chord Harmonies, Embellishments & Substitutions Part 1

Welcome to the fascinating world of guitar chords! While this report is not meant to replace any of the fine harmony/theory books available that elaborate in greater detail, I think you will find it contains information that you can quickly and easily use to enhance and expand your own guitar playing – regardless of what style of music you play. So let’s get right into it!

A two octave C major scale would contain the following notes going from low to high:

C1 – D2 – E3 – F4 – G5 – A6 – B7 – C8 – D9 – E10 – F11 – G12 – A13 – B14 – C15. Notice that there is a number following each of the notes. These are the scale degrees that will be used to explain the “spelling” of the various chords.

A C major chord would consist of the 1st, 3rd and 5th degrees of the major scale or C, E and G. Instead of just playing a C major chord you could “embellish” the song by using any of the following chords which will sound richer and fuller:

*C major6th – which contains the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 6th degrees or C, E, G and A

*C major7th – which contains the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th degrees or C, E, G and B

*C major6/9 – which contains the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 6th and 9th degrees or C, E, G, A and D

*C major9th – which contains the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th degrees or C, E, G, B and D

*C major13th – which contains the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th and 13th degrees or C, E, G, B, D and A

Hopefully, this report has helped clarify some of the confusion and mystery surrounding “major” chords and harmony in general.
I hope you’ll start having some real fun experimenting with all the new possibilities that you’ve just learned in this report!

Never B#, Never Bb, Just B Natural,

Steven Herron

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