How to Play Cadd9 Chord on Guitar

In today's lesson, we'll go over 3 distinct ways to play the Cadd9 guitar chord, pronounced "C" add nine. Learning the Cadd9 will help you learn to play songs and learn them faster because it is a very popular guitar chord.

This guitar chord is built from the C major scale and is similar to the C major chord but has a little extra spice that adds a little tension and makes it sound a bit sweet and romantic.

Play the Cadd9 Chord In Open Position

Cadd9 open position 1 chord

Notice that you can easily transition to the D chord without removing your ring finger! Also, you can easily transition to the G chord by moving your index and middle fingers up a string.

There are two easy ways to play a Cadd9 Guitar chord in the open position. Each has its own benefit, so I'd recommend learning both.

Cadd9 In Open Position Option 1

  • This is the most popular way to play the Cadd9 chord, and it perfectly transitions to the G and D chords.

    To play:
  • First place your pinky finger on the high e string, third fret
  • Then, place your ring finger on the second string, third fret
  • Your second finger on the fifth string, third fret
  • At last, your index finger on the fourth string, second fret

Strum the chord from the fifth string down and be sure to avoid strumming the low E string.

Cadd9 open position 2

Cadd9 In Open Position Option 2

This is also a very popular way to play the Cadd9 chord and is used in the song "Dust In The Wind" by Kanas.

To play, make a regular C major chord by placing your:

  • Index finger on the 2nd string, 1st fret 
  • 2nd finger on the fourth string, second fret
  • Third finger on the fifth string, third fret

Then, to turn it into a Cadd9 chord, you place your pinky on the second string 3rd fret.

Cadd9 Barre Chord Guitar

Cadd9 barre chord

When an inversion is written, it is often referred to as a slash chord, such as Cadd9/G, which means play the Cadd9 but have the G note as the bass note. (See chord diagram)

This next finger positioning to play the Cadd9 is a bit rare as it's not only a barre chord, it's an inversion! (More on this below)

To play, place your:

  • First finger on the 4th string, 5th fret
  • 3rd finger on the 3rd string, 7th fret
  • 4th finger on the 1st string, 8th fret

    As you squeeze barre your first finger across strings 2, 3, and 4.

An inversion is when the chord is not in the root position. Root notes refer to the root of the chord (in this case, the C note), and root position means the root note is the lowest-sounding note. If it was a D major chord, the D note would be the root note.

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Cadd9 Chord Tips

Tip #1

The #1 mistake players make in learning how to play new chords is that they don't memorize them. If you have to constantly look at where to place your fingers, your mind/body won't develop proper coordination. Focus on learning just a few chords at a given time.

Tip #2

To learn the Cadd9 chord, play the chord very slowly so that all your fingers attack the strings simultaneously. Your chord changes will always be slow if you place your fingers on the fretboard one at a time.

Tip #3

Be sure your thumb is in the correct position. The #1 reason why players struggle with chords, have stiff fingers, think they have small hands, etc.. is due to a simple two-second fix... The thumb needs to be in the correct position. If it's on the outside of your index finger, your hand will not work properly.

Songs With The Cadd9 Guitar Chord

AC/DC You Shook Me All Night Long

Boston - More Than A Feeling

Greenday - Good Riddance

Kansas - Dust In The Wind

Metallica - Nothing Else Matters

Poison - Every Rose Has It's Thorn

Skid Row - I Remember You

Smashing Pumpkins - Disarm

The Eagles - Take It Easy

All songs mentioned are part of the song curriculum inside the Guitar GPS Method, each with a professional chart that makes learning & playing the full song from memory easy!

What Notes Make Cadd9 Guitar Chord?

The Cadd9 chord is a four-note chord that is derived from the C major scale and uses notes C, E, G, D

If you've read my break down of the C major chord you'd know that a C major chord uses notes C E G so we are simply adding in the D note to turns the C major into a Cadd9.

Where does the "9" come from? When you number the notes on a scale, they are called "scale degrees," and the chord formula of a Cadd9 uses the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 9th "degrees."

1     2   3     4     5      6     7 | 8 9
C     D     E     F    G      A     B | C D

However, we need the D note to be an octave higher than the root note, which is why we call it a 9 and not a 2. If the D note isn't an octave higher than the C note, the chord will sound a bit muddy, and we won't get the nice sound we get when the D note is up an octave. (see diagram below)

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Cadd9 barre chord

Interestingly enough, in the Cadd9/G voicing that I used earlier in the article, the D note is actually an octave lower than the root note, which is why it still works.

How To Use The Cadd9 Guitar Chord

The most popular way to use the Cadd9 is to use it as a substitution for the C major chord in the key of G major in an I IV V chord progression, which would be G C D. If we substitute the C for Cadd9, we get G-Cadd9 - D. The interesting thing is the D note of the Cadd9 acts like glue tying it all together as the both the G major chord and the D major chord have a D note as part of their chord formula. The notes of the G chord are G-B-D, and the D chord is D-F#-A.

Now you know a few ways to play the Cadd9 guitar chord and understand some Cadd9 chord theory!

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