How to Play Seventh Chords on Guitar

Learn to play seventh chords on guitar to bring extra depth and texture to your acoustic guitar playing. These open dominant seventh chord shapes are moveable, so that you can shift them up or down the neck for different fingering options.

Seventh chords can be created by adding the seventh scale note to a basic triad. Common types of seventh chords include major, minor and dominant versions.

Major Seventh

Once you’ve learned basic guitar chords, seventh chords represent the next logical step. When played alongside other triads, seventh chords can add an entirely new layer to your playing and add depth and dimension.

Major seventh chords (abbreviated as maj7) are four note chords composed of stacking thirds. Their notes consist of root, major third, perfect fifth, and major seventh notes.

To create a major seventh chord, all that’s needed to create it is adding an interval from the 7th scale degree – for instance if you take a G major chord and add an F natural you have created a C major seven chord.

Maj7 chords can add a smooth, soulful sound to R&B playing. Take a cue from Marvin Gaye or Alicia Keys as examples of artists that use seventh chords effectively for setting the atmosphere and atmosphere in their performances.

Minor Seventh

Minor seventh chords on guitar comprise four notes: A, C, E and G. When performing these chords it may be necessary to mute one or both low E strings in order to achieve desired sound in your song.

There are various methods for building a minor seventh chord, but by far the easiest and most frequent method is stacking thirds. To do this, lower the major third of an A major 7 chord to a minor 3rd and add another fifth above it.

As opposed to its major seventh cousin, this chord has a much mellower and sophisticated sound than its counterpart. Commonly used in jazz and bossa nova music, these chords add an intimate feel and soft glow. Listen out for songs by artists like Alicia Keys or Marvin Gaye for examples of these types of chords at work – they make the perfect setting tone in R&B music!

Dominant Seventh

These chords are created by adding an interval of a seventh above the root note of a triad, giving it an extremely unique and potency sound suitable for many styles of music.

Dominant sevenths consist of a major triad with an additional minor seventh interval that gives it a strong bluesy sound, often found in jazz and bossa nova music as well as rock and blues music. They’re commonly found throughout these genres.

Pinky exercises provide an effective fingerworkout, while dominant B7 chords work wonders at either beginning or ending a progression. For example, The Rolling Stones used one in “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” and The Doors added one to their 1970 track “Roadhouse Blues.”

The Dominant Seventh chord is relatively straightforward and makes for an excellent first step to developing your rhythm skills and adding some flair. Plus, its power makes an impressionful statement!

Minor Seven Flat Five

The minor seven flat five (m7b5) chord is an altered chord often referred to as the half diminished chord in music theory books.

You will often see this chord used in jazz, although its usage in rock, blues and R&B music may not be so widespread. Still, it is worth knowing its existence since you never know when you might need it for an application in songs!

Similar to its cousin the dominant seventh sharp eleventh (#7#11), this chord uses a diminished triad, featuring a root, flat 3rd and flat 5th note; however, the fifth fret has been flattened a semitone or fret further, giving this chord its unique sound.