7b9 Guitar Chords - Diagrams and Voicings

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).

7b9 chords appear in many jazz tunes as Stella by Starlight, Misty and Bossa Nova songs as Black Orpheus, The girl from Ipanema. These chords bring a little bit of tension and sadness because of the b9, making the feeling more intense.

Dominant 9th chord 1 3 5 b7 9
C9 chord C E G Bb D
Dominant 7b9 chord 1 3 5 b7 b9
C7b9 C E G Bb Db

Dominant 7b9 guitar chord diagrams

Here are three 7b9 positions to play on the guitar respecting the voicing chart below. Because it is physically difficult to play all the chord tones on the guitar, you will notice that the fifth is omitted. 

Dominant 7b9 chord R 3 b7 b9


How to Use Basic 7b9 Chords ?

minor II-V-I sequences

Dominant 7b9 chords come originally from the V in minor keys. Indeed, when you harmonize the V degree of the harmonic minor scale you get a V7b9 chord. Here is a minor II-V-I chord progression in Cm, including a 7b9 chord.

But 7b9 can be used as a V (or secondary dominant) for both major and minor keys, here are two examples :

  • They can be used to create nice voice leading, like in this example, a I-vi-ii-V turnaround in C major.


Major II-V-I sequences

7b9 chords can also be used in major II-V-I progressions. You see in the three exercises below the use of a rootless D7b9 chord with the fifth in the bass.

Notice that these chords are are indentical to diminished 7th chords, so you can move this position at intervals of minor thirds without changing the chord quality.

Drop 2 Dominant 7b9 Chords - Rootless Voicings

Dominant 7b9 chords can be built from drop 2 dominant 7 voicings, involving the remove of the root. This one is replaced by the b9. In other words, to build a 7b9 chord from a drop 2 dom7 chord, you just need to move the root 1 semitones (one fret) up to get the flat ninth (b9). 

Dominant 7b9 Root position b9 5 b7 3
1st inversion 3 b7 b9 5
2nd inversion 5 b9 3 b7
3rd inversion b7 3 5 b9

7b9 and diminished chords relationship

The dominant 7b9 chord functions as a dominant (V7) implying in its upper structure the tones of a symmetrical diminished chord. By taking a dominant 7 (Example with G7 : G, B,D and F) and adding the flattened ninth (Ab for G7), you built a 7b9 chord. Dominant 7b9 contains the same notes as a diminished 7th chord built on any of the chord tones including the flat 9 but without the root. So G7b9 (except the root) has the same notes as Abº, Bº, Dº or Fº. 

G7b9 G B D F Ab
Formula 1 3 5 b7 b9
B dim7   B D F Ab
Formula   1 b3 b5 b7


By now, you have understood that a 7b9 chord can be replaced by a diminished 7th chord (chord substitution technique) starting on the major  third (3), the fifth (5), the minor seventh (b7) or the flat ninth (b9) of this 7b9.

Example in a C major II-V-I progression where the V7 is extended with a b9 giving a V7b9. This Dm7 | G7(b9) | CM7 becomes Dm7 | Bdim7 | CM7  |  and because of the symmetry of the diminished 7th chord there can be three other possibilities :

  • Dm7 | Ddim7 | CM7 
  • Dm7 | Fdim7 | CM7 
  • Dm7 | Abdim7 | CM7

In this minor II-V-I chord melody sequence the Vb9 (G7) is replaced by Fdim7 :

  • Guitar Chord Dictionary

    This PDF eBook provides over 550 guitar chord shapes. This is the perfect reference guide to understand how chords are built and how to play them on guitar.
  • 172 Arpeggio Shapes For Guitar

    This printable PDF is a method designed for guitarists of all styles who want to learn the most important types of arpeggios using diagrams and theoretical charts.
  • 126 Triad Chord Shapes

    This handbook for guitar players is intended both for teachers and students. It includes 126 guitar shapes for mastering triads.
  • 30 Smooth Jazz Guitar Licks

    In this package you'll get a printable PDF Method with tabs, notation, analysis, scale shapes and audio files related to 30 smooth jazz guitar licks.
  • 40 II V I Jazz Guitar Licks

    This pdf method for guitar contains 40 II V I jazz guitar lines with tab, standard notation, analysis, scale charts and audio files.
  • 50 II-V-I voicings

    This guitar method is a printable PDF eBook containing 50 exercises with audio files, analysis, tab & standard notation.
  • 40 Minor 2 5 1 Chord Voicings

    This PDF method contains 40 exercices with tabs, scores and audio files for practicing jazz guitar chords over the minor 2 5 1 progression.
  • 40 Minor II V I Licks

    This guitar method is a printable PDF with tabs, diagrams, theory and audio files providing 40 minor II V I jazz licks.
  • II V I Bundle

    This package contains 3 PDF methods for jazz guitarists with tabs, audio files, analysis about the II V I progression.
  • 40 Mixolydian Jazz Guitar Lick

    PDF guitar method with tabs, audio files and theory providing 40 dominant jazz guitar lines for teachers and students.
  • 40 Minor Jazz Guitar Licks

    This printable guitar method in PDF format contains 40 easy minor jazz guitar lines based on the Dorian mode.
  • 40 Major Jazz Guitar Licks

    Printable PDF eBook method containing 40 major jazz guitar licks with tab, standard notation and audio files for beginners and intermediates.
  • Diatonic Licks Bundle

    This package contains 120 jazz guitar lines based on diatonic modes as Mixolydian, Dorian and Ionian. PDF format with tabs, audio files and analysis.
  • Guitar Walking Bass Lines

    This jazz guitar method about walking bass lines and chords is available as a PDF files containing 35 exercises with tabs, analysis and audio files
  • 101 Dominant Arpeggio Patterns

    This printable PDF method provides 101 dominant arpeggio exercises with tab, theory and standard notation for the jazz, blues and rock guitarist.
  • 49 Essential Jazz Lines

    This printable eBook method in PDF format provides 49 jazz solo transcriptions of the greatest jazz musicians. Tab, standard notation, audio files & analysis.
  • 11 Jazz Blues Studies

    This PDF method contains 11 guitar lessons with chord studies, tabs, standard notation, analysis & audio files about the main blues progressions used in jazz music.
  • 25 Altered Jazz Guitar Lines

    This PDF eBook method contains 25 altered jazz guitar licks with tabs, patterns, scale charts and audio files to master, apply and develop the altered scale.
  • 40 Blues Dominant patterns

    This printable method is available as a PDF file containing 40 easy dominant jazz-blues guitar lines with tabs, standard notation, analysis, audio files and scale charts.
  • Mastering Pentatonic Scales

    This jazz guitar method is an eBook available as a PDF with standard notation, guitar tabs, diagrams, analysis, audio files and backing tracks. You will find in this booklet 25 easy jazz guitar lines with theory using common and rare pentatonic scales.
  • 25 Soul Jazz Guitar Licks

    You will find here an eBook available in PDF containing 25 soul jazz and hard bop guitar licks in the style of Grant Green, Melvin Sparks, George Benson. These jazz lines come with tabs, standard notation, guitar neck diagrams, backing track for practice and 25 audio files for each riff.
  • 25 Diminished Patterns

    This eBook PDF with audio files contains 25 dominant diminished jazz guitar patterns using the half-whole diminished scale and diminished 7th arpeggios.
  • 6 Tritone substitution licks

    This Printable PDF eBook available for free download contains 6 easy jazz guitar licks with tabs/notation, youtube video link and analysis about the tritone substitution.

Last edited: 2021-09-17

Add a comment