Altered chords most commonly occur on dominant chords.

The whole idea behind a dominant chord is to provide motion within a chord progression by adding tension and then resolving to a consonant chord.

It’s very popular to alter the 5th of a dominant 7 chord by raising or lowering the note to add tension.

Let’s take a look at a regular C7 chord and then a few alterations.


C7 = C E G Bb

C7# 5 – C E G# Bb

C7b5 – C E Gb Bb

Now let’s add the 9th to a C7 to create a C9 and illustrate the alterations that are possible.


C9 = C E G Bb D

C7# 9 – C E G Bb D#

C7b9 – C E G Bb Db

As you advance, you will also want to mix up the altered 5th’s and 9th’s to create more sounds!

Below I’m including a few popular voicing’s of altered dominant chords that you’ll make great use of. I’ll include these in Tablature form with the name of each chord.

Small Ensemble Voicings

    G7#5           D7b9
E |--------------------------|
B |--4---------------4---—---|
G |--4---------------5-------|
D |--3---------------4-------|
A |------------------5-------|
E |--3-----------------------|

Large Ensemble Voicings

   G7#5      G7#9#5      G7b9       G7b5
E |--3----------6----------4----------3--------|
B |--4----------4---------—3----------2--------|
G |--4----------4----------4----------4--------|
D |--3----------3----------3----------3--------|
A |--------------------------------------------|
E |--------------------------------------------|


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