What is a major chord? A minor chord? What do all those numbers and letters and other symbols in a chord's name mean? Find out in this free mini-course.
Let's see how we can transform the three basic major shapes into minor chords.
In each of the three shapes, all we need to do is change a single note, moving just one finger and in particular the finger at the top of the diagrams (actually, the one at the bottom on the guitar), as you can see comparing the two rows. Actually, in most cases, we don't really 'move' a single finger but we change the whole fingering as is suggested by the numbers in the diagrams.
E minor (E-)
A minor (A-)
D minor (D-)
Play the major and minor chords one after the other and listen how the sound changes dramatically moving just one finger: we could say that major chords are 'happy' and minor ones are 'sad'. It's the bigger difference in 'mood' between chords and, in a way, it divides the chord world in two. Even in chord names the first information we get is if it's major or minor.
Let's stay on the Major side for a while and see what it takes to go from the basic shapes to 7th chords.
If we move the finger in the middle of the fingerings one fret backwards, we get Major 7th chords. In this case, 'major' relates to the 7th and not to the chord: as you can see from the chord name under the diagrams, a chord is considered major unless it's specified as minor. We can actually find a minor chord with a major 7th (e.g. A- Maj7)
E Maj7 (E 7+)
A Maj7 (A 7+)
D Maj7 (D 7+)
If we move the finger in the middle one more fret backwards we get 7th (also known as dominant) chords (it's actually a minor 7th and if you want to know what it really means you can take a look at the Theory section of the site).
Combining minor and 7th chords we get, strangely enough, minor 7th chords that add a little extra texture to normal minor chords. From the standard minor chord, we move the finger in the middle two steps backwards or we can take a 7th chord and move the finger at the top of the diagram back one step.
There are more ways to play 7th chords on the guitar, let's see what they are in the next chapter