Moveable Major and Minor Variations
You can play dozens of chord types (minor, seventh, suspended, etc.) by altering
slightly the two basic moveable major chords. (ex. lower one string one fret
to flat a third; which changes the major chord to a minor chord). This is an
easy way to expand your vocabulary.
- The two major moveable chords (and all major chords) consist of roots,
3rds, and 5ths. Make sure you know your intervals in these two formations.
The chord grids above identify the intervals (the 5th and 2nd strings in
the barred E formation are 5ths).
- You can relate other intervals (4ths, 7ths, etc.) to 1, 3, and 5. For example,
a 4th is one fret higher than a 3rd, and an augmented 5th (#5 or +5) is one
fret higher than a 5th.
- Augmented - Raised a half tone (one fret) in pitch, usually in reference
to the interval of a 5th in a chord.
- Diminished - Lowered a half tone (one fret) in pitch.
- Suspended - To replace the interval of a 3rd with that of the 4th in a
To know how to alter the two major moveable chords to create other chord types,
you need to know the formulas for the different types. These formulas are in
the boxes below.
- Sometimes chord symbols in songbooks and fakebooks are self-explanatory.
For example, G sixth is written G6, and G ninth is written as G9. Other symbols
can be unfamiliar or confusing. In the boxes below, each chord formula is
followed by a "G" chord symbol (G7, G9, etc.) as a sample of how
the chord type is commonly written.
- Major - 1, 3, 5 (G)
- Sixth - 1, 3, 5, 6 (G6)
- Major Seventh - 1, 3, 5, 7 (Gmaj7, GM7)
- Major Ninth - 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 (Gmaj9, GM9)
- Add Nine - 1, 3, 5, 9 (Gadd9)
- Six/Nine - 1, 3, 5, 6, 9 (G6, 9)
- Suspended - 1, 4, 5 (Gsus, Gsus4)
- Augmented - 1, 3, #5 (G+, G+5)
- Minor - 1, b3, 5 (Gm, G-)
- Minor Seventh - 1, b3, 5, b7 (Gm7, G-7)
- Minor Sixth - 1, b3, 5, 6 (Gm6)
- Minor Ninth - 1, b3, 5, b7, 9 (Gm9)
- Minor Six/Nine - 1, b3, 5, 6, 9 (Gm6, 9)
- Minor Seven/Flat Five -1, b3, b5, b7 (Gm7b5)
- Minor Eleven - 1, b3, 5, b7, 11 (Gm11)
- Minor/Major Seven - 1, b3, 5, 7 (Gm,maj7)
Dominant 7th Chords:
- Seventh - 1, 3, 5, b7 (G7)
- Ninth - 1, 3, 5, b7, 9 (G9)
- Eleventh - 1, 3, 5, b7, 9, 11 (G11)
- Thirteenth - 1, 3, 5, b7, 9, 13 (G13)
You can add to these four types by flatting or sharping (augmenting)
5ths and 9ths, adding a suspended 4th, etc.
- Seventh/Flat Five - 1, 3, b5, b7 (G7b5)
- Seventh Augmented - 1, 3, #5, b7 (G7+)
- Seventh Suspended - 1, 4, 5, b7 (G7sus)
- Seventh/Flat Nine - 1, 3, 5, b7, b9 (G7b9, G7-9)
- Seventh/Sharp Nine - 1, 3, 5, b7, #9 (G7#9, G7+9)
- Seventh/Flat Nine Augmented - 1, 3, #5, b7, b9 (G7b9+)
- Seventh/Sharp Nine Augmented - 1, 3, #5, b7, #9 (G7#9+)
- Ninth Augmented - 1, 3, #5, b7, 9 (G9+)
- Ninth/Flat Five - 1, 3, b5, b7, 9 (G9b5, G9-5)
- Eleventh Augmented - 1, 3, 5, b7, 9, #11 (G+11)
- Thirteenth/Flat Nine - 1, 3, 5, b7, b9, 13 (G13b9, G13-9)
Diminished - 1, b3, b5, bb7, (bb7
= 6) (Gdim)
Of course, this is not a FULL list, but it covers the majority of chord types
you are likely to ever encounter.
How To Apply This:
Here you are creating a 5th and 6th string root chord for each chord type.
The formula for a minor chord differs by only one note from the formula for
a major chord.
1. A major chord is 1, 3, and 5 - so you you flat the 3rd to make the chord
minor (1, b3, 5)
2. To make the 6th string and 5th string root major chords into minor chords,
you lower the 3rd one fret:
Major to Minor
A dominant 7th chord has the same 1, 3, and 5 formula as a major chord, with
a b7 added
(1, 3, 5, b7)
You remove a finger from the two major moveable chords to add the b7:
Major to Seventh
Minor seventh chords have a flatted third AND a flatted seventh. The formula
is 1, b3, 5, b7
To make the major moveable chords into minor sevenths, you make both the above
Major to Minor 7th