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Advanced Jazz Guitar Chords: Dominant

After you have worked out some or all of the basic jazz guitar dominant chords, you will be ready to take your harmonic explorations to the next level as you begin to study rootless dominant voicings in the woodshed.






When studying more advanced dominant chords in the practice room, you will add the 9th to each 7th-chord shape you have under your fingers, though here the 9th replaces the root of the 7th chord in each inversion and string set.

With this replacement concept, you maintain a four-note shape, but there is no root to reference when playing these dominant chords in a chord progression or jazz standard.

Since there is no root to reference within the shape, having a strong foundational understanding of the basic minor shapes, as well as the fretboard, is essential when applying these advanced dominant jazz guitar chords to a performance situation.

Check this link out for background on the basic dominant shapes: Basic Dominant Guitar Chords

Rootless Dominant Jazz Guitar Chords - 6th String Root

To begin your study of advanced dominant chords, take a look at how to build Drop 3 9th chords on paper.

When constructing these chords, you take the same 7th formula you learned in the basic dominant chord lesson, just replace the root with the 9th, which is found a tone (two frets) higher on the fretboard.

It can be tricky to visualize these rootless 9th shapes on the fretboard, but with a bit of theory you can make this application easier.

When you replace the root with the 9th, you are building a m7b5 chord from the 3rd of the underlying 7th chord.

This means that if you want to build C9, you can play Em7b5 over that chord change to bring out the 3-5-b7-9 intervals in your comping.

This theory concept can save you hours of practice as it allows you to use chords you already know, m7b5s, to construct new shapes in your playing, 9th.

Here is the intervallic formula for all four inversions of Drop 3 9th chords that you can learn and apply to your studies.


Drop 3 9th Root Position 9 b7 3 5
Drop 3 9th 1st Inversion 3 5 9 b7
Drop 3 9th 2nd Inversion 5 3 b7 9
Drop 3 9th 3rd inversion b7 5 9 3



Now that you know how to construct rootless Drop 3 9th chord inversions, let’s take them to the guitar fretboard.

Here are four inversions of a rootless C9 chord that you can practice in all 12 keys, as you apply these shapes to your jazz guitar practice routine.


Guitar Chord Chart : Drop 3 C9 1


Once you have these important chords under your fingers, put on a C7 backing track and alternate between root-based C7 chords and rootless C9 grips so that you can hear these chord shapes applies to a musical situation.

Besides creating rootless 9th chords, you can also create rootless 9#11 shapes by applying the same theoretical concept to basic 7th chords.

Here, you take a Drop 3 7#11 chord, raise the root to the 9th, and you’ve got a rootless 9#11 chord.

Here are the four inversions for Drop 3 9#11 chords for you to memorize from an theoretical standpoint before applying them to the guitar.


Drop 3 9#11 Root Position 9 b7 3 #11
Drop 3 9#11 1st Inversion 3 #11 9 b7
Drop 3 9#11 2nd Inversion #11 3 b7 9
Drop 3 9#11 3rd inversion b7 #11 9 3



Here are those same four Drop 3 rootless fingerings for C9#11 with the lowest note on the 6th string that you can explore further in the woodshed.


Guitar Chord Chart : Drop 3 C9#11


With these fun-sounding shapes under your fingers, you’re ready to move between 9th and 9#11 chords in your comping in order to experiment with each of these chord shapes in a harmonic situation.

Rootless Dominant Jazz Guitar Chords - 5th String Root

You will now move on to practicing rootless Drop 3 9th chords with the 5th string as the lowest note of each inversion.

As the intervals remain the same for any Drop 3 rootless 9 and 9#1111 chord inversion, you start learning these various shapes in all 12 keys right away.


Guitar Chord Chart : Drop 3 C9 2


Here are the 9#11 shapes on the 5-3-2-1 string set.


Guitar Chord Chart : Drop 3 C9#11 2


At this point in your studies, put on a C7 backing track and comp or chord solo over that track using any of the sixteen inversions, both string sets for each chord type, that you have learned for the rootless 9th and 9#11 chords to this point in you development.

When you can play these dominant chord shapescomfortably, then you’re ready to move on to studying Drop 2 rootless 9th chords on the guitar.

Here are the four inversions of rootless Drop 2 9th chords from an intervallic standpoint that you can study before applying these shapes to a musical situation.


Drop 2 9th Root Position 9 5 b7 3
Drop 2 9th 1st Inversion 3 b7 9 5
Drop 2 9th 2nd Inversion 5 9 3 b7
Drop 2 9th 3rd Inversion b7 3 5 9



Here are those rootless Drop 2 9th chord shapes on the guitar so that you can memorize them in 12 keys around the fretboard.


Guitar Chord Chart : Drop 2 C9


As well, try comping over a C7 backing track and alternate between Drop 2 7th and Drop 2 rootless 9th chords in order to compare and contrast these grips from a harmonic standpoint in your playing.

Here are the four inversions of Drop 2 9#11 chords to memorize in the practice room before you apply this knowledge to the neck of the guitar.


Drop 2 9#1111 Root Position 9 #11 b7 3
Drop 2 9#11 1st Inversion 3 b7 9 #11
Drop 2 9#11 2nd Inversion #11 9 3 b7
Drop 2 9#11 3rd Inversion b7 3 #11 9



Here are those same rootless dominant chords on the guitar fretboard to explore from a musical standpoint.


Guitar Chord Chart : Rootless Drop 2 C9#11


With both the Drop 2 9th and 9#11 chords under your fingers on this string set, you can start to move between these two sets of shapes as you apply them to common chords progressions and standard tunes in your jazz guitar workout.

Rootless Dominant Jazz Guitar Chords - 4th String Root

As was the case with the Drop 3 chords, the formula is the same for any Drop 2 rootless inversion on any string set when you construct them on paper.

This means that you are ready to dive right in and apply the final string set for these dominant shapes to the guitar.


Guitar Chord Chart : Rootless Drop 2 C9 2


After working out the rootless Drop 2 9th chords in your studies, here are four inversions of C9#11 that you can memorize in order to bring both of these sounds into your playing on this string set.


Guitar Chord Chart : Rootless Drop 2 C9#11


Learning advanced rootless dominant jazz guitar chords can seem like a steep hill to climb at first, but with some practice, a bit of theory knowledge, and practice room determination, you’ll have these essential chord shapes under your fingers and into your playing in no time.



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