How to Play Seventh Chords on Guitar

how to play seventh chords on guitar

Seventh chords add depth and color to guitar progressions. From major, minor, or diminished varieties – each type can add its own special flavor!

These chords have become a mainstay in many classic songs and can serve as transitions from one main chord to the next.

Major Seventh

Once you have mastered basic beginner guitar chords, major seventh chords provide a wonderful next step. Not only do they add more flavor to any basic major or minor chord progression but they make switching between a basic open chord and its major seventh counterpart easier for adding depth and color into your music.

An effective way of thinking of a major seventh chord is as “stacked thirds”. Simply take any major triad and add in its equivalent major seventh interval (e.g. if playing G major chord, add F# note as its seventh half-step up from root).

An alternative method for creating a major seventh chord is using a minor triad and then adding a flat seventh, one tone down from its root note. This technique was used in America’s “Tin Man,” as well as Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer.”

Minor Seventh

Once you are familiar with major and minor barre chords, adding the seventh scale degree to a minor triad adds another layer. Our Guitar Chord Of The Week this week is the minor seventh chord (also known as min7); we will explore open minor 7th chords, moveable min7 shapes starting on A-string (5th string), as well as drop 2 voicings (drop refers to notes being added two frets lower than its name).

Minor seventh chords are among the gentlest of seventh chords, constructed on a simple minor triad and expanded with an additonal minor seventh, usually 10 half steps or one whole step above or below from its root note. By simply adding this extension – often called chord color extensions or extensions – to an existing minor chord, they can instantly transform its tone and emotion, such as Patsy Cline’s classic ballad “Crazy.” Extending chord color like this provides another great tool in your musical toolkit by altering its character and creating new emotional connections within your music!

Dominant Seventh

This chord has an especially distinctive sound that makes it popular in blues music but can also be found in pop, rock and classical works. With both major and minor intervals present simultaneously, its unique sound varies dramatically between happy and sad notes; making this chord an excellent way of creating tension or movement within chord progressions.

This chord can be formed using the formula 1-3-5-b7; its final note corresponds with minor scale which makes it slightly dissonant.

This chord is straightforward to play and offers multiple ways to shape it. For barre chords, movable shapes allow you to switch the root note by moving up or down on the neck. Furthermore, two drop 2 voicings exist which utilize string skips between their lowest notes to complete this chord voicing.

Minor Seven Flat Five

The Minor Seven Flat Five chord (m7b5) offers an alternative to the drop 3 minor seventh chord. Constructed by adding minor third (2-3) and major fifth (5-7) over any root note, this structure yields a more chromatic sound which often finds use in jazz music.

You will often see this chord represented as either m7b5 or m7(b5), written various ways on a fretboard. One approach involves playing its movable fingerings of the diminished triad (a barre on two strings, followed by power chord with pinkie and ring fingers) by using your pinkie and ring fingers as finger extensions.

One popular way of playing this chord is to add the flat seventh note to an Am7 chord for an alternative bebop approach to diminished chords, lending your music an airy jazziness. Furthermore, minor 7 flat five chords may serve as leading tones for dominant-ii-V progressions.