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Session 4: More Blues Tools

More Blues Tools “I was told when I started to play that simple
music is the hardest music in the world to play.
And blues is simple music.” Albert Collins
Advanced Blues Chords, Vibrato, Sliding 6ths Riffs

Advanced Blues Chords
This session covers many of the more advanced chord forms that are common in the
• Learn 9th, 13th, and
blues. Primarily, it looks at 9th chords and 13th chords. These richer sounding chord
forms really add a lot of color to your blues playing as well as multiply your options as
half-diminished chord
a guitarist when playing chords to the blues.
• Understand the half-
diminished chord 9th Chords
substitution. Ninth chords are built like the dominant 7th chords described in Session 1. But a
• Hearing the difference ninth chord adds one more note to a 7th chord—the interval of the 9th. The 9th step
between the major 6th is the same as the 2nd step. So, in the key of C the 9th would be the note D.
and the dominant 7th.
• Playing the sliding 6ths

Key Ideas
Advanced chords use a
flatted 7th unlessthe word
“major” is in the chord Ninths can be added to major 7th, minor 7th, or dominant 7th chords. For example,
name. a dominant 7th chord would have the formula 1-3-5-b7 and a dominant 9th chord
would be 1-3-5-b7-9.

In the key of C, a C9 would include the notes C-E-G-Bb-D.

When the word “major” is
in the chord name then
the 7th is unaltered.

You can substitute a 9th

chord for any 7th chord.

The Major 7th Rule

When the word “major” is in the chord name then the 7th in the chord is unaltered.
But if “major” is not in the title then the chord has a flatted 7th. (The only exception
to this rule is the fully-diminished chord which would have a double-flatted 7th.)

For example, a Cmaj7 has an unaltered 7th step—1-3-5-7. A Cmaj9 has an unaltered
7th step—1-3-5-7-9. But a C7 (no “major” in the chord name) has a flatted 7th—1-3-
5-b7. And a C9th also has a flatted 7th—1-3-5-b7-9.

Blues Guitar with Steve Krenz 47

Session 4: More Blues Tools

9th Chord Forms

Playing Tip
You can substitute a 9th
chord for any 7th chord.

9th Chord Blues in G

Half-Diminished 7th Chord Forms

Playing Tip
When you see a 9th chord, you can
substitute a half-diminished 7th chord
built on the 3rd of the 9th chord.

Chord Substitution: Half-Diminished 7th for 9th Chord

An important chord substitution trick is to substitute a half-diminished 7th built on the 3rd of the 9th chord.
This is a very helpful chord substitution trick when looking for more chord options to play when playing the

For example, an E half-diminished chord could be substituted for a C9th. Or if the chord is an F7 or F9, then
an A half-diminished chord could be used.
Blues Guitar with Steve Krenz 48