Jamie Holroyd Guitar

Jamie Holroyd Guitar

How to Play Dominant 7#9 Chords on Guitar

How to Play Dominant 7#9 Chords on Guitar

When learning jazz guitar chords, one essential chord every guitarist should know is the dominant 7#9 chord.

Often referred to as the Hendrix or Purple Haze chord, the dominant 7#9 chord is a blues chord because it contains both the major and minor 3rd.

Blues based jazz guitarists such as Kenny Burrell and Wes Montgomery use this chord frequently in their compositions and vamps.

Blues-rock guitarists like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix use the chord because of the crunchy tonality.

Alt and diminished scales can be used to improvise over the chord type, but most guitarists use pentatonic and blues scales.




Dominant 7#9 Song Examples


Jimi Hendrix – Purple Haze

Kenny Burrell — Chitlins Con Carne

Stevie Ray Vaughan — Testify

Wes Montgomery — Up and At It



Dominant 7#9 Voicings


The diagrams below show two common inversions for dominant 7#9 chords.

Although there are many ways to play this chord across the guitar neck, the two inversions below are the most commonly used amongst guitarists.

The first inversion has the root on the A string and the second has the root on the E string.


dominant 7#9 chord chords



Dominant 7#9 Examples


The rhythm pattern below shows a Kenny Burrell-esc straight 8ths rhythm pattern that works well with both of these inversions.


dominant 7#9 chord etudedominant 7#9 chords


To complete this introduction to dominant 7#9 chords, here is a voice leading pattern in which the top note descends from the #9, to the natural 9 and finally the b9 before resolving the major 7th chord.

The first three chords are based off shell voicings and the final chord (F major 7) is a drop 3 chord.


dominant 7#9 chord VI


Dominant 7#9 chords can work well as substitutions for normal dominant 7th chords, especially in blues situations.

However, most guitarists use them in ii-V-I situations, as demonstrated in the last example.

Mix dominant 7#9 inversions with the normal dominant 7th chords you play and try to apply them on some different tunes that you are working on.

What are some of your favorite ways to practice and use dominant 7#9 chords?

Share your thoughts in the comment section below.


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Mike Crutcher

I find that every time I hear this chord, players treat it like a minor chord. Kenny Burrell plays minor Pentatonic over it in "Chitlins", Jimi treating it like a minor chord in "Purple Haze", etc. I like to use the bluesy slurred major 3rds to get some dissonance in there that is unique among most players. The Half/Whole Symmetrical Diminished scale seems to be the one that is most appropriate, although I have been using it in a more Larry Carlton-esque way by using major triad arpeggio licks off of the diminished chord. In other words, for a C7#9, I'm playing off of CMaj triad, EbMaj triad, GbMaj triad, A(Bbb)Maj triad. This yields the Half/Whole scale: C, Db, Eb, E, F#, G, A, Bb, but it doesn't sound so scalar when you play it in triadic form.

You could play diminished triads off of each note in this scale, too. Or diminished triads off of the C7 arpeggio notes: Cdim., Edim., Gdim., Bbdim., yielding the notes C-Eb-Gb, E-G-Bb, G-Bb-Db, Bb-Db-E, or the scale is C, Db, Eb, E, F#(Gb), G, Bb. This technique leaves off the A note from the scale, though.

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Excellent lesson!

Jamie Holroyd

Thanks for checking it out!

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You can put the #9 on to the Bass Note.

For instance G7(#9) EADGbe:6x546

Then try Dm7(b5) G7/A# Cm13

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