Go from jazz to Jimi with this guide to the 7#9 Hendrix chord (2023)

By John Wheatcroft

( Guitar Techniques )


Ever wondered how players like Jimi Hendrix and Grant Green blur the distinction between major and minor with such bluesy ease? Let us show you how it's done...

Go from jazz to Jimi with this guide to the 7#9 Hendrix chord (1)

Jimi Hendrix was undoubtedly one of the most significant musicians of the last century. For many, he was the ultimate electric guitarist, with an innate understanding and assimilation of previous generations of guitar masters, along with a clear vision of how he could interpret this music in his own uniquely personal and dynamically charged way.

While Hendrix’s peers such as Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page were equally significant and influential to the guitar world at large, Jimi’s considerable talents earned him one unique award, rather like a Heritage Blue Plaque of guitar technique, the ‘Hendrix Chord’.

Take a listen to Hendrix tracks such as Foxey Lady, Purple Haze, Crosstown Traffic and many more and you’ll hear a consistent use of this ‘Hendrix’ chord, a Dominant 7th with added raised 9th degree, labeled as 7#9.

(Video) How to play the Jimi Hendrix Chord (7#9)

While this chord had been around for quite a while, Hendrix assimilated this sound so naturally and completely into his compositional style that he literally made it his own.

If we look at the notes independently, taking C7#9 as our example, we can see a root (C), Major 3rd (E), perfect 5th (G), flattened 7th (Bb) and raised 9th (D#). This raised 9th could also be enharmonically considered as a Minor 3rd (Eb), so with this in mind our chord now contains attributes of both Major and Minor tonalities, so is perfect for implying that harmonic ambiguity that we find in blues, a style that Jimi evidently knew very well.

Rather than employ these 7#9 sounds in a functional capacity, where C7#9 could be considered an event in motion, part of a chain treating our 7#9 as the V7 of a forthcoming resolute I chord, either F Major, Minor or Dominant, Jimi uses these sounds in either static or parallel forms, treating each 7#9 as an independent sound in and of itself, and makes great use of the dual harmonic potential to see each from either the Dominant Major or largely Pentatonic Minor perspective.

The purpose of this lesson is to explore the 7#9 sound in both harmonic and melodic settings. The musical examples that follow are divided into five sections, starting off with a look at the most common voicings.

We also consider how the #9th sound can be used in Dominant situations to create single-note riffs, double-stop and chord fragments and also in classic lead guitar lines. We’ll be considering 7#9 musical examples found in the playing of jazz masters such as Grant Green, rock and roll legends like Chuck Berry and also Hendrix’s peers and contemporaries such as Eric Clapton and Robben Ford.

We round up our exploration of #9th Minor-against-Major action with a cohesive study in two parts. Based around a 12-bar Hendrix inspired psychedelic blues rock progression in C, the first chorus is devoted explicitly to rhythm guitar and uses a combination of 7#9 voicings peppered with single-note riffs, while for the second chorus it’s soloing time.

Although none of the lines and licks here are too difficult to get your fingers around, really consider how you approach the delivery and commitment to each phrase; strive for a confident and bold attack and aim for the most singing and expressive tone possible. For inspiration, consider watching some live footage of Jimi in action and revel in just how glorious he makes everything sound. As always, enjoy.

Jimi’s Got Rhythm

While it’s completely understandable that much of the analysis of Hendrix’s playing is focused on his incendiary lead playing, he was also an incredible rhythm guitarist, expertly mixing genres to create a cohesive and highly original sound that was stylistically authentic, rooted in tradition and also unique and forward thinking.

Serving his apprenticeship on the ‘chitlin’ circuit’ backing artists such as Wilson Picket and Sam Cooke and with stints in the backing bands of both Little Richard and Curtis Knight, Jimi certainly did his homework.

Hendrix had the ability to connect chords, melody and even bass parts together to create a huge sound that was both powerful and sophisticated

His groundbreaking rhythm playing with both the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Band of Gypsys saw him expertly mix Chicago blues with hard rock, funk with jazz and even R&B was given the psychedelic once-over. It’s perfectly clear that to Jimi it was all just music and any genre was fair game for his magical touch.

Frequently blurring the distinction between lead and rhythm, Hendrix had the ability to connect chords, melody and even bass parts together to create a huge sound that was both powerful and sophisticated in equal measures. Ensure in your own playing that you give this crucial aspect of your sound the respect and attention that it truly deserves.

Get the tone

By today’s standards, Jimi’s rig was simple: a Strat into a wound-up valve amp with wah, fuzz and some form of ‘vibe’ effect will place you in the right area. For today’s examples we’d suggest a clean or slightly overdriven rhythm tone, either by setting the amp clean or by dialling down your volume at the guitar.

You can choose to add gain for the lead examples by cranking the volume back up or by adding an overdrive, fuzz or distortion pedal.

Example 1. 7#9 voicings

We begin by defining a collection of some of the most popular voicings for this chord, starting with Hendrix’s favourite shapes, repositioned through each four-string grouping to outline C7#9 (C-E-G-Bb-D#), although you might notice in these shapes the 5th (G) is not present.

(Video) E7#9 (Hendrix E) Jazz Chord Gone Psychedelic Rock - Guitar Lesson

We choose a restricted fretboard area to spell out a I-IV-V in C, but with 7#9 chords, giving us C7#9, F7#9 and G7#9 respectively and flesh this out with a musical example. In 1c) we define some other common shapes for this chord courtesy of Stevie Ray Vaughan, with the 5th now present, Grant Green and George Harrison.

This is one of the legendary ‘Gretty’ voicings, taught to George by music shop assistant and jazz aficionado, Jim Gretty while perusing guitars at Hessy’s Music in Liverpool as a lad.

Example 2. #9 in other locations (enharmonic respellings apply)

In this example we’re looking at ways to define the #9th sound in a Dominant setting with single-note riffs and motifs. For reading ease we’re using the easiest enharmonic spelling here, as much of this material amounts to C Minor Pentatonic (C-Eb-F-G-Bb) against C7 (C-E-G-Bb).

You’ll note that almost every Eb (or to be pedantically accurate, D#) is bent ever so slightly sharp to allude to the Major third without ever quite reaching it (the blues ‘curl’).

Example 3. Double-stops

We can use the #9th sound in double-stops or small chord fragments to great effect, once again implying a sound that falls between the cracks.

Here we see a collection of four common moves that employ at least two notes played together starting with a Grant Green idea, moving through licks from Buddy Guy and Chuck Berry. Our final T-Bone Walker idea combines the Minor 3rd/#9th against a Major sound with an equally mournful b5th to 5th resolution (Gb to G).

Example 4. Mixing Minor and Major 3rd

In this example, we’re considering some of our single-note lead guitar options, so we begin by defining a pair of scale choices, specifically C Minor Pentatonic (C-Eb-F-G-Bb), albeit juxtaposed against C7 and with each b3rd/#9th curled upwards slightly, and then a hybrid scale that contains both Major and Minor 3rds (Eb and E: C-Eb-E-F-G-Bb).

You could see this as the logical combination of C Minor Pentatonic with a C7 arpeggio (C-E-G-Bb). We round this example off with a pair of choice phrases using each scale option courtesy of Robben Ford and Eric Clapton.

Example 5. Cohesive Piece

We conclude this look at the 7#9 sound with a cohesive study set around a Hendrix inspired psychedelic blues in the key of C, using 7#9 chords exclusively.

The first chorus is devoted to rhythm, with full chords used to punctuate single-note riff ideas that blur the lines between Minor and Major by using elements of the Minor Pentatonic juxtaposed with the associated Major 3rd for each harmonic event – ie, each chord change.

The second time around we crank the gain level up considerably and negotiate the same harmonic terrain with a selection of stylistically appropriate lead lines, again targeting the ambiguous #9th frequently and also incorporating other appropriate devices such as unison bends, double-stops and octaves.

(Video) Jimi Hendrix: Theory and Use of the 7#9 Chord – PlayGuitarAcademy.com

Go from jazz to Jimi with this guide to the 7#9 Hendrix chord (2)

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(Video) Easy Jazz Chords - 7#9 & 7b9 Shapes

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Go from jazz to Jimi with this guide to the 7#9 Hendrix chord (4)

John Wheatcroft

John is Head of Guitar at BIMM London and a visiting lecturer for the University of West London (London College of Music) and Chester University. He's performed with artists including Billy Cobham (Miles Davis), John Williams, Frank Gambale (Chick Corea) and Carl Verheyen (Supertramp), and toured the world with John Jorgenson and Carl Palmer.

(Video) How to play the JIMI HENDRIX CHORD on guitar


What is Hendrix E7 9 chord? ›

The E7(#9) chord is made up of the notes E, G#, B, D, and F##. This chord is known as The Hendrix Chord (in particular position n. 2 below) because it was often used by the guitar wizard.

What chords go with the Hendrix chord? ›

The Hendrix chord is usually a 7#9 chord, and more specifically, an E7#9. The chord shape is colloquially called the Hendrix chord because guitarist Jimi Hendrix frequently used it in a number of his songs like “Purple Haze.” Let's take a look at this chord below.

What was Hendrix favorite chord? ›

The 7#9 chord is an extended dominant 7th chord with an augmented (sharpened) ninth. This chord form got its nickname because it was a favorite of Hendrix, who did a great deal to popularize its use in mainstream rock music.

What are the notes in G7 #9 chord? ›

The G dominant sharp ninth chord is a 5-note chord consisting of the notes G, B, D, F and A#. You can see these notes highlighted in the interactive piano chart below. The chord itself is often abbreviated as G7#9.

What are the 3 chords in every song? ›

The I (tonic), IV (subdominant) and V (dominant) chords (primary triads) together encompass all seven tones of the tonic's major scale. These three chords are a simple means of covering many melodies without the use of passing notes. There are tens of thousands of songs written with I, IV and V chords.

What are the 3 cowboy chords? ›

Also called “cowboy chords,” these basic open chords require only three fingers on the fretting hand: index, middle, and ring.

What are the 3 punk chords? ›

Most hits have a tonic chord (I), fourth (IV), and fifth (V) chords. For example, if the song was in E (the tonic), there would ultimately be an A (fourth), and B (fifth) chords too.

What is the hardest chord to play on guitar? ›

The six-string F chord is one of the hardest standard chord shape to play on the guitar. When many people try to play the F chord on guitar (and often succeed), it's with far too much struggle and effort than is actually necessary. Even extremely influential guitarists can have a hard time with barre chords.

What is the most famous chord? ›

C - G - Am - F (I - V -vi - IV) This just might be the most popular chord progression in Western popular music. There is an actual mathematical explanation as to why it's such a pleasant progression. The quick summary is that these four chords are opposites of each other.

What are the 4 famous chords? ›

The famous four chords used in many pop song progressions are the I, V, vi and IV chords of a major key. The roman numerals represent the numbers of the major scale we begin a chord from (1, 5, 6, 4) so in C major this would be C, G, Amin, F or in G major it would be G, D, Emin, C.

What is the devil's chord on guitar? ›

In music a tritone consists of two notes that are three whole steps apart, such as “C” to “F#.” Not found in either the major or minor scales, and due to its discordant sound, it has been called “the Devil's Chord.”

What scale is the Hendrix chord in? ›

This lick is based in E Minor Pentatonic (E-G-A-B-D) with an added major 3rd (G#).

What are the two most important functional notes in A G7 chord? ›

To form the chord, G7, you play the notes G, B, D and F. Note clearly that you do not play F sharp, instead you play the note, F which is a semitone lower than F sharp. In terms of intervals, the G dominant 7 chord is made up of a major third, followed by two minor thirds. G to B consists of two tones, a major third.

What is A c7 flat 9 chord? ›

The C7b9 chord (C dominant 7 flat 9) contains the notes C, E, G, Bb and Db. It is produced by taking the 1 (root), 3, 5, b7 and b9 of the C Major scale. The C7b9 chord is often used when resolving to the F Major 7 chord.

What is A 7 9 chord in jazz? ›

Jazz and blues

The dominant 7♯9 chord is usually found in blues contexts because in a blues scale a minor third (blue note) in the melody is usually played against a dominant seventh chord. The third of the dominant chord is the seventh degree of the scale.

How do you solo over A 7 9? ›

There are a number of ways you can solo over 7#9 chords using scales and modes, but one of the easiest and best-sounding approaches is to combine a 7th and m7th arpeggio, both starting from the root of the chord.

What are the 4 magic chords? ›

It turns out that the four magical chords are E, B, C# minor and A. But with so many chords to choose from, why did dozens of hit songs end up with the same four chords? At first glance, it seems strange that so many songs should have the same chords.

What are the 4 chords that make every song? ›

And it's not just modern music. The 'four chord song' has been around since Pachelbel's Canon around the turn of the 18th century. These four chords are the magic I, IV, V and vi.

What are the 3 most useful chords? ›

The I, IV, and V chords are the three most common and arguably the most important harmonic elements in the musical universe. Built off of the first, fourth, and fifth notes of any major or minor scale, these three chords form the basis for much of the music found in several genres.

What are the 5 basic chords? ›

The 5 chords we'll look at are the C major, A major, G major, E major, and D major. The reason we use all major chords is that the minor versions of any of these chords just require tiny adjustments.

What are the first 5 guitar chords to learn? ›

The 7 essential most used beginner chords ALL guitar players should learn first are E major, E minor, A major, A minor, D major, C major and G major. With these chords, you'll be armed with the power to play literally thousands upon thousands of different songs. NO SHORTCUTS!

What are the 2 easiest chords on guitar? ›

Why E major and E minor are first two guitar chords you should learn first. 1. The E major and E minor open chord shapes can be moved up the guitar neck and changed into multiple other chords known as barre chords. You'll learn barre chords later on once you've mastered the basic essential open chords.

What are most punk chords? ›

The power chord is the most commonly used chord in Punk. It's surely not a coincidence that the power chord is simple in its structure and has an aggressive sound, especially when played with distortion. Note: Technically speaking the power chord is not a chord but a double stop since it has only two different notes.

What is A 7 b9 chord? ›

What's a Dominant 7b9 Chord ? Dominant seventh flat ninth chords (7b9) are built by lowering the ninth of dominant 9 chords by one semitone, giving the harmonic formula : 1 (root), 3 (major third), 5 (perfect fifth), b7 (minor seventh) and b9 (minor ninth).

What does E7 chord mean? ›

E7 is a type of dominant seventh chord—remember, a major triad plus a flatted seventh. An E major triad is spelled E G# B, as shown in Example 1, and an E7 chord contains the notes E, G#, B, and D (Example 2).

What scale to play over E7 9? ›

The first example shows the parent scale of the E7#9. Superlocrian, otherwise known as Diminished Whole-Tone scale, is the 7th mode of Melodic Minor. The intervals of the scale are 1-b2-b3-b4-b5-b6-b7, so everything is flat.

What is an a7 +9 chord on piano? ›

Notes: A - C# - E - G - B#

What notes are in a E7 flat 9? ›

The E7b9 chord (E dominant 7 flat 9) contains the notes E, G#, B, D and F. It is produced by taking the 1 (root), 3, 5, b7 and b9 of the E Major scale. The E7b9 chord is often used when resolving to the A Major 7 chord.


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