How to Play Seventh Chords on Guitar

how to play seventh chords on guitar

Once you’ve learned your basic major and minor chords, seventh chords offer an easy way to add flavor to any song!

Blues chords consist of major chords with an additional minor seventh note added for added authenticity in blues music. These harmonies are widely utilized and frequently utilized in creating the feel and sound that characterize blues music.

Major Seventh

Major seventh chords (maj7) can be defined as triads that contain an additional 7th scale degree above their root note, often seen in blues and jazz progressions.

Major seventh chords resemble dominant 7th chords but have their own distinct sound and aren’t interchangeable with them. Each major seventh chord typically contains four to six notes with duplicated notes present.

To create a Major Seventh chord, add B above the basic triad of root, major 3rd and perfect 5th notes on the guitar neck – this gives the chord an interval of one fret on the neck – creating a major seventh chord which you can adjust along its entire fretboard to create various shapes such as in the examples below; drop 2 Maj7 voicings are particularly suitable as they’re easy to play open position making them great chords to start learning with!

Minor Seventh

Once you understand the basics of major and minor chords, seventh chords provide an easy way to add flair and diversity to song arrangements. There are four primary types of seventh chords — minor seventh, dominant seventh, diminished seventh chord and minor seven flat five (also known as half diminished seventh).

These chords have a mournful sound that works great to add tension in songs. While usually played using minor chords, these harmonies can also create an authentic blues sound.

To create a minor seventh chord, we begin by adding the root, flatted third and flatted fifth notes from the minor scale to a major scale, before playing together to form the chord. For added versatility we can lower the fifth by half-step to form a minor seven flat five chord – also known as half diminished seventh chords.

Dominant Seventh

Similar to their major and minor counterparts, these chords create an upbeat-yet-melodic sound that adds life and depth to songs. While especially common in blues music, they’re present across many contemporary genres such as rock and pop music as well.

These chords can be formed in much the same way as major seventh chords, with one note lowered by a semitone to form a dominant seventh chord. This shape is very popular because it allows you to easily place it anywhere on the fretboard and can add drama and tension to a progression.

For this chord shape to sound properly, place your fourth finger on the G string and fret it in its third position. As this involves using your weakest finger, this may take time to master. A more mobile variation of this chord shape can be created by taking two steps back from fretting it at its third position; simply remove your second finger from fretting the D string completely before fretting at its second place instead.

Sustained Seventh

Add seventh chords to your musical repertoire for more color and atmosphere in harmonic progressions, but to do so successfully requires an understanding of their different types and how they function within music.

A seventh chord usually comprises two distinct thirds stacked atop each other – usually major at the bottom and minor atop, creating the familiar three-chord shape from which it takes its name. Common examples of seven-chords include major, minor and dominant versions.

One of the more unusual seventh chords is known as a dim7 or o7 chord, composed of two diminished fifths stacked atop each other and used to produce either an active or static sound depending on how they’re applied.

To master this type of seventh chord, any major triad can be transformed by flattening its seventh degree into a 7sus4 chord – making learning it quick and effective! Plus it provides great thumb exercises!