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Learn 7th Chords on the Guitar
Posted on September 1, 2023
Seventh chords, often abbreviated as 7th chords, are formed by adding the seventh note of a scale to a basic triad chord. In other words, a seventh chord contains four notes: the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes of a scale as well as the additional 7th note. Common types of 7th chords on the guitar include major seventh (maj7), dominant seventh (7), and minor seventh (m7) chords.
You can use seventh chords to add some extra complexity and nuance to your guitar-playing. Seventh chords are used in different musical styles and genres but are particularly common in jazz and blues.
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Types of 7th chords on guitar
In addition to the ones mentioned above, there are other types of 7th chords on the guitar. You also have half-diminished (m7♭5), diminished seventh (dim7), and minor major seventh (mM7) chords. Let’s look at the most common 7th chords on the guitar with examples.
Major seventh chord (maj7)
Major seventh chords (maj7), sometimes referred to as delta chords, consist of a major triad with a major 7th note. This kind of 7th guitar chord is often used in jazz music. One good example of a major seventh chord for the guitar is the Cmaj7 chord. Here the four notes are C, E, G, and B. You can transition from the major C chord to Cmaj7 just by lifting your index finger.
Dominant seventh chord (7)
Dominant seventh chords consist of a major triad with a minor 7th note. Dominant seventh chords possess a strong and bluesy quality. Here’s an example of a G7 chord. You may notice that this chord differs from the basic open G chord just slightly. Instead of playing the high E string on the third fret, play it on the 1st fret instead.
Minor seventh chord (m7)
A minor seventh chord combines a minor triad with a minor 7th note. This results in a chord with a mellow, melancholic sound. In the example below, the only difference between a minor A chord (Am) and a minor seventh A chord (Am7) is a single note. Play the G string open instead of pressing down on the second fret.
Songs with 7th chords for the guitar
You can play many of your favorite songs on the guitar without ever needing 7th chords. However, sooner or later you’re going to encounter a song that uses at least one 7th chord. Here are just a few popular songs for the guitar that use 7th chords:
- “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica
- “Imagine” by John Lennon
- “Use Me” by Bill Withers
- “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison
You can find guitar chords or tabs for these songs where the 7th chord is replaced with an open chord that most beginners are likely to know. If playing a 7th chord in a song proves to be challenging, you can try substituting it with a basic open chord in the same key to see how it sounds.
Other types of chords
Don’t stop at 7th chords; make sure to explore other types of guitar chords as well. Start by learning the most basic ones that are used in a majority of popular songs for the guitar. Use our library of different guitar chords to learn new chords as you encounter them in songs.
- Open chords, also known as cowboy chords, are some of the most essential guitar chords a beginner should know. Each open chord uses at least one open string and requires most often only three fingers to play. You can play multiple songs just by learning a few open chords.
- Power chords, or fifth chords, consist of two notes: the root note and the fifth note. If you want to play rhythm guitar, you should definitely learn power chords. Many iconic guitar riffs in rock music use power chords.
- Barre chords require you to bar multiple strings with a single finger. To play a barre chord, lay your index finger across multiple strings on the same fret. Barre chords can be played easily in different positions on the guitar fretboard.
- Suspended chords, also known as sus chords, are created by a third note of a chord that is replaced by a major second or a perfect fourth, resulting in a sus2 or sus4 chord. Use suspended chords to create a sense of tension in a song.
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