Major 9th Guitar Chord Diagrams (Maj9) - Basic Positions and Drop 2 Voicings

What Are Major 9 Chords?

Major 9 chords are made of five notes, they contain a root (1), a major third (3), a perfect fifth (5), a major seventh (7) and a ninth (9). They are is major seventh chords with a ninth added. They can also be seen as a major triad (1 - 3 - 5) with a seventh (7) and a ninth (9). They should not be confused with dominant 9 and add9 chords.

Notation Symbol

Major 9th chords can be noted M9 or maj9.

Major 9 guitar chords - Basic positions

How to Play Major 9 Chords on Guitar?

For those who don't want to experiment the twelve rootless drop 2 chords below, here are three basic major 9 chord shapes to play on the guitar.

The first diagram has its root on the sixth string and the second has its root on the fifth string.

Because guitarists don't have enough fingers to play the five notes of these kind of chords, the fifth is omitted.

It's better to omit the fifth or even the root than the seventh, the third or the ninth. Indeed, these are are the most important tones of the chord.

Drop 2 major 9th guitar chords - Diagrams and voicing charts

Here are 12 guitar diagrams to play drop 2 major ninth chords. These diagrams are based on the drop 2 major seventh chords. Building a drop 2 maj9 chord from drop maj7 chords is very easy, you just have to move the root 2 semitones (two frets) up to get the ninth. 

Rootless voicings and diagrams

As you can see, root notes are those circled in red in the following diagrams. Root notes are nor played, but it is important to locate them to find more easily the chord position on the guitar neck and as well as its name.

Major 9th Root position 9 5 7 3
1st inversion 3 7 9 5
2nd inversion 5 9 3 7
3rd inversion 7 3 5 9


Rootless Drop 2 Major 9th Chords

What's The Difference Between maj9, 9 and add9?

Because the difference between a maj9 and an add9 chord is often a source of confusion, this has to be clarified here.

  • A maj9 chord needs a major 7th in its composition, this is just a shorter way of saying maj7add9, that's what makes it different from add9. In other words, this is a major seventh chord with a ninth.
  • An add9 chord is a major triad with a ninth added.
  • A 9 chord is a five note chord, it's a dominant seventh chord with a ninth.
9 chord 1 3 5 b7 9
Major 9 chord 1 3 5 7 9
Add9 chord 1 3 5 x 9


As you can see in the voicing shapes below, the fifth is left out.

Difference between 9 guitar chords 

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Last edited: 2022-11-16


  • Flavio
    • 1. Flavio On 2022-09-22
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    • jazz-guitar-licks
      • jazz-guitar-licksOn 2022-09-22
      Thanks a lot !

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