11 ways to play a C7 (9) (aka C 9) chord on guitar


If you want to add a jazzy edge to your guitar playing, using 9th chords is a powerful tool that adds a smooth and sophisticated sound to your music. Before learning 9th chords, I recommend first checking out the guide on 7th chords if you don’t know them already.

In this lesson, we’ll break down how the C 7 (9) aka C 9 chord works and show you 11 ways to play it on the guitar. Let’s get started!


C7 (9) chord theory

Whenever you see a 7 (9), this implies a Dominant chord with an added 9th interval. This means the chord has the following chord tones: 1, 3, 5, b7, and 9.

For example, the C 7 (9) chord has the notes C, E, G, Bb, and D.

The extension of the 9th note adds a nice tension to your chord as you’ll hear in the examples ahead.

Here is the formula for the Dominant 7 (9) chord below.

C9 chord formula


Now that you know what notes belong to the chord structure, let’s look at how to read the chord charts.

How to read the chord charts

For the charts below:

  • The top horizontal line of the chord chart represents the high E string and the bottom horizontal line represents the low E string. 
  • The vertical lines separate each fret. 
  • The numbers in the blue dots tell you which fingers to use on the fretting hand. 
  • The letters on the right of the charts tell you what notes you are playing on each string.
  • Circles on the left represent open strings.
  • Red X means to avoid that string.

You can check this link for more about reading guitar notation symbols.

1. C 7 (9) on the 5th string

This is the classic and simple way to play this chord.

C7 (9) on the 5th string


2. C 7 (9) rootless starting on the 4th string

This is built from the previous shape which can be played as a rootless voicing and adding a note on the 1st string.

C 7 (9) rootless starting on 4th string


3. C 7 (9) barre chord

This is technically the same as the 1st shape but uses a barre to add the note on the first string. This one can be difficult to play if you’ve never tried it. If needed, you can review the other ones and come back to this one.

C 7 (9) barre chord


4. C 7 (9) barre on the 6th string

C 7 (9) barre on the 6th string



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This chart covers how to play:

  • Major chords
  • Minor chords
  • Major 7 chords
  • Minor 7 chords
  • Dominant chords
  • Half diminished chords
  • Diminished chords
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5. C 7 (9) rootless variation on the 4th string

This is the same as the previous chord except using a rootless voicing.

C 7 (9) rootless variation on the 4th string


6. C 7 (9) on the 6th string

C 7 (9) on the 6th string


7. C 7 (9) 3rd inversion

This shape comes from the previous one, except we add the root note to the top of the chord on the 1st string.

C 7 (9) 3rd inversion


8. C 7 (9) rootless on the 5th string

This chord has a nice sound even as a rootless voicing. You may also know this as a typical E min 7 b5 chord shape.

C 7 (9) rootless on the 5th string


9. C 7 (9) 6th string variation

This chord is a bit of a stretch but worth learning because of the full sound you get.

C 7 (9) 6th string variation


10. C 7 (9) on the 4th string

C 7 (9) on the 4th string


11. C 7 (9) 4th string variation

C 7 (9) 4th string variation


Wrapping Up

Building on the foundation of 7th chords, the C 7 (9) chord incorporates an additional 9th interval on top of the basic C 7 chord structure. This extended chord adds a smooth and sophisticated sound that’s perfect for jazz, blues, and other genres.

You can play even more variations of this chord by using inversions on different strings. You can see this other lesson to learn how to play chord inversions on guitar.

If you want to take your chords even further, see this lesson on jazz chords on guitar.

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All the best,

JG Music Lessons

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