Add 9 Arpeggios

Improve Your Melodies Instantly

In this lesson, I want to give you a straightforward tip that will help you improve your guitar solos.

If you have been practicing lead guitar for some time, you already should know that triads are a great way to create pleasant melodies.

Now we will take a step forward: here's the Ninth!

The 9th is the note that you find 2 half-steps above the upper root, so, in the case of the C major scale, we have:


The note D is the 9th. So far so good, now let's explore the possibilities of this simple addition.

Add9 Arpeggio - Interactive Tool

Use this interactive tool to learn add9 arpeggios across the entire fretboard:

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Add9: The Sound Of A Ninth

The Ninth has an interesting sound: it's sweet and brings a little tension at the same time.

To instantly perceive this nuance, try to play a standard C major followed by a C add 9 chord, back and forth.

C Major Chord

C major chord

C Add 9 Chord

C add 9 chord

Sounds cool, is it right?

Tip: To switch between C and C add9, you could also use the pinkie to press and release the 3rd free of the B string.

C Add 9 Vs C9

Before proceeding, we have to clarify one thing.

We say C add9 and not C9 because the standard rule in chord naming is:

  • If we add an extension (a note up the 7t, like 9th, 1st, 13th..) to a chord, and the 7th is not in the chord, we use the symbol add
  • If the 7th is in the chord, the extension takes its place, so C7 add 9th becomes C9.

In fact, the notes in C add9 are: C, G, E and D (there's no 7th)

The notes in C9 are: C, G, E, Bb and D (Bb is the 7th)

CAGED Shapes For The Add 9 Arpeggio

Ok, now let's try to find our way on the fretboard and see how to use the 9th in our solos.

Here's the CAGED shapes:

CAGED shapes

Now the add 9th version of the CAGED system. Just add the note 2 frets up the root (the 9 in green).

Note that we can consider the 2nd and the 9th as the same note.

CAGED shapes

With these maps, we can now identify some cool arpeggio shapes.

Note: we show the arpeggio for the root of C, but, any other pattern on guitar, these shapes are shiftable up or down the neck to play the pattern in another root.

Major Add 9 Arpeggios

The major add 9 arpeggio is a major triad and a 9th, so 1, 3, 5 and 9th.

This first fingering has the root note on the lowest E string.

major add 9th arpeggio shapes

Another pattern, this time with root note on the A string.

major add 9th arpeggio shapes

This is an extended pattern that unfolds across the fretboard.

major add 9th arpeggio shapes

Minor Add 9 Arpeggios

The minor add 9 arpeggio is a minor triad and a 9th, so 1, b3, 5 and 9.

Fingering for the minor version with root on the 6th string.

minor add 9th arpeggio shapes

Root on the 5th string, 4-frets-box configuration.

minor add 9th arpeggio shapes

Another extended pattern that repeats the same shape across different strings, this concept is called chunking.

minor add 9th arpeggio shapes

Add 9 Arpeggio - Final Exercise

I'll leave you with a nice tune based on E min Add 9 (E, G, B and F#) and A min Add 9 (A, C, E and B).

The lead guitar plays an extended arpeggio using the chord tones of the underlying chord, starting from the E and A open strings.

Lead guitar

Emin Add9 Amin Add9 lead guitar


Emin Add9 Amin Add9 chord guitar

Ok, this ends our add 9 arpeggios lesson.

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