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Learn to Play a Cadd9 Guitar Chord

Start strumming this simple, yet striking chord.

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The Cadd9 guitar chord is major chord with an additional note tacked on for extra flair. In addition to the C major chord it represents, it includes a color note (or extension note) – the 9th note in the C major scale. This extra note gives this chord a versatile approach across all genres whether it’s rock, country, pop or something in between. The end result is a chord that can plug into and heighten the emotion of any song.

Let’s learn more about this chord and how to play it.

What Notes Make up the Cadd9 Chord?

True to its name, the Cadd9 chord is a C chord with a 9th note “added” to the mix. It’s comprised of four notes:

C, E, G and D

Notice that the D is the 9th note that gives the Cadd9 chord its extra flavor.

Try playing a C chord and then play a C9 chord to hear that extra punch that ninth note delivers.

For another way to hear how a ninth note creates a different dimension, deconstruct both a C chord and the Cadd9 chord, playing each in their arpeggio form - playing each note in a chord separately as part of a pattern instead of blending all of the notes together. You’ll hear how the addition of one new note to the mix changes the feel of a progression of notes.

Finger Positioning to Play the Cadd9 Chord in Open Position

The Cadd9 chord is a great chord for beginners because it’s easy to pick up and its sound can add some color into your playing. One of the most common ways to play the Cadd9 chord is in the open position.

Start by placing your index finger on the 2nd fret of the D string. Next, place your middle finger on the 3rd fret of the A string, followed by your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the B string. Finally, place your pinky finger on the 3rd fret of the high E string. Strum all of your strings with the exception of the low E.

Here's how it looks:

  • - Index finger: 2nd fret of the D (4th) string
  • - Middle finger: 3rd fret of the A (5th) string
  • - Ring finger: 3rd fret of the B (2nd) string
  • - Pinky finger: 3rd fret of the E (1st) string


Strum five strings down from the A string

Learn to Play Songs with the Cadd9 Chord

Now that you know how to strum the Cadd9 chord and have played around a bit with it in its arpeggio form, it’s time to listen for it in songs spanning various genres. This versatile chord pops up in everything from electrified rock to mellow neo-folk. Here are a few songs and genres where the Cadd9 chord pops up.

Rock Songs

With a reputation as glam rock’s king of theatrics and a knack for transcending stereotypes and genres, Davie Bowie’s signature song, “Ziggy Stardust,” weaves the Cadd9 chord into this tale of an intergalactic rock star. The chord features prominently in the song’s intro, which becomes a refrain throughout the song - propelled forward by guitarist Mick Ronson’s ‘70s glam strumming.

From one British icon to a few others, Oasis and the Gallagher brothers put the full beauty of Cadd9 on display with their smash ‘90s hit “Wonderwall.” The way the song builds to its frenzied conclusion is a testament to the versatility of the chord.

An undisputed master of the guitar, the Edge pulls the Cadd9 chord into U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name.” This variation on the C major chord gives his signature loop and delay guitar sound gives the song an extra bit of color, creating a memorable melody.

The Cadd9 chord also lends itself perfectly to grunge, as evidenced in “Plush” by Stone Temple Pilots.

Country Songs

Blending modern country with a pop flair, Florida Georgia Line’s “This Is How We Roll” shows the full range of the Cadd9 chord, as it transcends genres with ease.

No stranger to the guitar (particularly the telecaster), Brad Paisley’s “Last Time for Everything” brings an ‘80s-inspired guitar riff fueled by the Cadd9 chord into the country scene without a hiccup.

Kenny Chesney’s “How Forever Feels” feels like a classic country track complete with fiddle and steel slide guitar. The Cadd9 chord helps this ode to old country deliver on its cowboy roots.

Pop Songs

The Cadd9 chord is used to create a slow, ethereal sound as part of Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect.” It’s a beautiful ballad delivered with rich, warm guitar tones and delicate lyrics. The chord plays a prominent role in this sweet tune, the ninth note giving it a distinctive tone.

The Cadd9 also makes an appearance on Donna Lewis’ “I Love You Always Forever.” The song delivers a slow ambient build before hooking listeners with its up-tempo and trance-like muted guitar riff. This song is a great opportunity to flex your Cadd9 chord strumming muscles in an acoustic setting.

Folk Songs

Hungry for more acoustic excuses to play the Cadd9 chord? This versatile chord can be heard giving life to Alaskan folk-rock singer Jewel’s breakthrough ‘90s hit, “You Were Meant for Me.” The song is a stunning example of using harmonics to great effect to lend an almost twinkling effect to this acoustic ballad.

Some might argue this next song sits firmly in the rock category, however, no one saw it coming when punk rock trio Green Day successfully stripped out the post-grunge distortion and power chords to deliver this acoustic gem, and arguably their biggest hit “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).” Listen for the Cadd9 chord to help drive this graduation staple’s jangly chord progressions. The song has far more in common with wistful folk storytelling than the angsty punk that categorized Green Day’s early years.

Now that you’re armed with plenty of songs to test drive your Cadd9 chord skills, add more chords and techniques to your guitar repertoire.

If you'd like to learn how to play even more chords, take a look at Fender Play's chord library here. And if you're not a member yet, click here for a free Fender Play trial.