Beginner Guitar Lessons:

More on 7th Chords



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There is another popular way to play 7th chords in the E and A shapes, all we have to do is to add another '7Th' note on the 1st and 2nd string respectively. To find the 7th chord for the E shape, we moved the finger in the middle from an E (octave) back two frets to a minor 7th (an open D on the 4th string) so if we add another D to an E major chord we should get a 7th chord. Try adding a D on the 3rd fret on the 2nd string and you'll hear the distinctive sound of a 7th chord. We can even mix the two chords and get a third fingering for our E7.

E 7 - a

E 7 - b

E 7 - c

They are all E7 chords because we added a minor 7th (D) but we can choose the exact texture we want by choosing the shape we feel is 'right' for a song or a particular section of it.

We can do the same with the A shape: our basic A7 has an open G (minor 7th) on the 3rd string so we'll add a G at the 3rd fret on the 1st string to get our second shape and, finally, we can mix the two shapes to get a third one.

A 7 - a

A 7 - b

A 7 - c

Note: a major chord is made of three notes and a 7th chord is made of four and since a guitar has six strings some of the notes are bound to be 'doubled' one or even two octave higher. Also, due to the way a guitar is tuned, the order of the notes may be 'mixed up'. This doesn't change the kind of chord we play: an E7 is 'made' of E, G#, B and D an A minor must contain A, C and E regardlesss of note doubles and order. What changes is the texture of the chord: what is the higher and lowest note, which strings are open or fretted al influence the sound of a chord and so the more shapes we know of a particular chord the best we can refine our playing style.

So why not have some fun with minor 7th chords?

We can use the same technique to find two more fingerings for the E and A minor 7th.

E-7 a

E-7 b

E-7 c

A-7 a

A-7 b

A-7 c

We can't add an higher 7th to the D shape, we don't have any higher strings left but there are many cool ways to play D chords on the guitar and we'll see them on another section of the website.

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Now it's time to take a look at 4th and Suspended chords


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