Chord formulas

So you are mad scientist of guitar and you want to make mad guitar potions… well in this case it’s chords and you’d like to play some that are a bit more “interesting” than Major and Minor.

Well in order to make exciting chemicals you need to know the formulas for the ingredients so you can make these super duper potions.

First things first…  We need the elements, in this case we are going to be using the MAJOR scale. The root of everything.  YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS SCALE….


There is a blog I have written previously on this scale, if you don’t know the scale, get on that blog and read read read.


The basic major chord consists of the Root, 3rd and 5th notes of the scale.  So if you were playing C major these notes would be C E G.  Play a C chord, have a look to see which different notes you are playing.  Oh look it’s a C E and a G… wow.

Now to make it C minor we take the 3rd and flatten it.  E becomes Eb.  Making a C minor chords formula R b3 and 5.

Is this making sense? Of course it is. If it isn’t try it on your guitar and see for yourself.

So onto the formulas :

Maj 1,3,5

min 1,b3,5

dim 1,b3,b5

Aug 1,3,#5

Maj 7 1,3,5,7

Dom7 1,3,5,b7

min7 1,b3,5,b7

min7b5 1,b3,b5,b7

Dim7 1,b3,b5,bb7

Maj9 1,3,5,7,9

Dom9 1,3,5,b7,9

min9 1,b3,5,b7,9

There are many more chord types beyond this, Altered Dominants, all kinds of extensions, but for now just see how you get on working these out using your scale knowledge and working out the fingerings for yourself.


Right take 12 flashcards of each of the 12 keys. Randomly choose a key and then select one of the chord types.  See if you can construct that chord.  Try it in a few different positions on the neck. 2-3 positions would be good. 5 would be excellent.

Do this for a few minutes every day, different keys. This way you will expand your chord vocabulary daily.

Now… get on with it.   There will be more soon…



~ by Geoff Lea Guitar on March 1, 2013.

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