Chords types

There are lots of different types or categories of chords. You must not learn all of them, but by learning different types of chords your guitar playing will expand.

The types of chords covered:




















Minor add chords are included in the Add9 chord guide. This section was earlier found on this page.

Numeric figures in chord names

As you may notice, there is a lot of numbers involved. In general, these numbers refer to the interval between the root note and the last note in the chord. For example C7 have the root note c and also e, g and finally b flat which is seventh steps above the root. The b flat note is what separates the C7 chord from a regular C chord.

2: When this number is written out it refers to a sus2 or add2 chord. In these cases the number doesn't refer to the last note in the chord, instead to a note that is replacing another or an added note.
3: This number doesn't occur in chord names, but the third as a musical interval is often part the chords as the second note.
4: This number is mentioned in case of sus4 chords.
5: This numbers are mentioned concerning the chords that are often called power chords. A fifth as a musical interval is often the last note in triad, but is written out in power chords to indicate that the third is missing and the chord only consists of the root and a fifth.
6: This number indicates that a musical interval in the form of a major or minor sixth is the last note of the chord.
7: A common number in chords and involves major, minor and dominant chords.
8: An eight should refer to a chord with a note one octave up, but it would mean a duplicated note therefore this number doesn't occur in chord names.
9: Referring to an added nine.
10: This number doesn't occur since it would mean a duplicated third an octave higher.
11: Refer to an expanded chord with an eleventh note added to a dominant seventh.
12: An eight should refer to a chord with a note one octave up, but it would mean a duplicated note therefore this number doesn't occur in chord names.
13: Refers to an expanded chord with a thirteenth note added to a dominant eleventh.
14-: No known chords with numbers higher than thirteen.

2 note chords, 3 note chord, 4 note chords and others

A chord can consist of two notes (which is unusual and mainly the case when power chords are involved) and more all the way up to seven. The three note chords (also called triads) are the most common and includes major and minor chords. The major 7th and minor 7th are examples of four note chords. Extended chords, like 9th, 11th and 13th, have even more notes in them.

So how to play a seven note chord and a six-stringed instrument? One or more tones are leaved out, which can be done without the sound or color of the chord is lost.

Chord types and music styles relationship

Yes and no. Certain chord groups can be typical or overrepresented in certain styles, but it's far from a rule.

Anyway, are you interested to learn a specific style, here are some guidelines. As mentioned, this is no strict relationship between groups of chord and music styles, but as a generalization the information below could be good to know.

Blues: dominant sevenths (7th chords)
Jazz: many different types including 11th and 13th chords.
Funk: ninth chords (9th chord)
Punk: power chords (5th chords)
Bossa nova: 6/9 chords

Besides, for rock guitar playing one thing to look into is barre chords and in the singer-songwriter area open chords are fundamental (in both these cases, it's more as concepts or techniques than groups of chords).

Advertisement