Master Chords

You can learn how to build and play 9, 11, 13 and altered chords!

Let’s take a look at how to construct the 9, 11 and 13 chords as well as what altered chords are and how to build them.

First up are the 9s.

9 chords

There are 3 types of 9 chords:

  1. Dom9
  2. Maj9
  3. Min9

The video lesson demonstrates all possible shapes of the dom9 and maj9. The min9 only has one shape.

For more info on these chords, how they work and when to use them you need real musical examples, sections of an actual song so you can hear it in context. You get this when you take the master course.

A 9 chord in a song

The dom9 is heard frequently in songs by James Brown. James famously said when auditioning guitar players:

-Can you play an E9 chord?
-Can you play an E9 chord all night long?

Here he is with ‘Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag’.

11 and min11 chords

There are two types of commonly used 11 chords, the dom11 and the min11.

Below are two shapes displayed. Notice how the dom11 doesn’t have a 3rd. It has a 9th instead.

A11, G shape
Am11, G shape

An 11 chord in a song

My favourite ’11 chord in a song example’ is Michael Jackson’s awesome tune ‘Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough’ which is B11 – B almost throughout. Let’s have a listen!

13 chords

The 13th chord is closely related to the dom7 and 6 chords, only one shape is almost always used, the E shape.

To build big chords like this, you need to keep just the important notes. These are the root, the 3rd, the 7th and whatever the note we extend to, in this case, the 13th.

G13, E shape

A 13 chord in a song

My favourite ’13 chord in a song’ example is Billy Cobham’s ‘Red Baron’ which moves between a G13 and a C9 for the majority of the song.

Altered chords

Altered chords are chords with b5, #5, b9 or #9 in combination with a dom7 chord.

Below are two very useful altered chords. Take the master course and we discover these and many more in real songs.

D(#5), C shape
D7#9, C shape (Hendrix)

An altered chord in a song

Etta James gorgeous ‘At Last’ contain an altered chord, have a listen and see if you can find it!


Big chords like 9, 11 and 13, and odd sounding altered chords like dom7#9 are so complex to play on the guitar that there simply isn’t one version for each shape.

Because of this, you have to memorise the shapes that actually exist and discover their role in music as you study songs.

The master guitar course takes you by the hand and achieves exactly this in easy to follow, fifty-two step by step guitar lessons.