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Dominant Seventh Chords

Dominant Seventh Chords – Theory And Practice

This article is going to discuss the dominant 7th chords, usually just abbreviated to 7, e.g. E7 and A7. Don’t confuse the dominant 7th chord with the major seventh chord. The major 7th chords,or maj7, are a different chord.

Unlike the Major Chord and Minor Chord lessons where I just showed you the chord shapes and fingerings, I’m going to show you a little music theory, major scale theory, chord formula, and learn how to play dominant 7th chords.

First off, I’m going to show you what the major scale looks like. Starting off at the root note and going up to the same note one octave higher, it goes:

whole-whole-half-whole-whole-whole-half

Where whole is a whole tone, or two frets on the guitar, and half is one fret.

If we take the E Major scale, the root note is the open sixth string. The diagram below shows the notes on the sixth string of the guitar.

Sixth String Notes

Sixth String Notes

Counting up the fretboard, the notes of the E Major scale are E F# G# A B C# D# and E.

The Major chord uses the first, third, and fifth notes of the Major scale. The E Major chord consists of E, G#, and B. The diagram below shows the E Major chord. Starting from the sixth string, the notes played are E, B, E, G#, B, and E.

E Major Chord

E Major Chord

The 7th chord formula is the first, third, fifth, and flatted seventh notes of the Major scale. E7 consists of E, G#, B, and D. The first version of E7 below uses all four fingers and can’t be used as a bar chord. The notes are E, B, E, G#, D, and E.

E7 Chord

E7 Chord

The next version of E7 below only uses three finger and can be used as a bar chord further up the neck of the guitar. The notes are E, B, D, G#, D, and E.

E7 Chord

E7 Chord

This last version of E7 is even easier and uses only two fingers. The notes are E, B, D, G#, B, and E.

E7 Chord

E7 Chord

You should see now that there are different ways of playing the same chord. As long as the four notes E, G#, B, and D are played, it’s an E7 chord.

We’re now going to take two variations of E7 and move it up the fretboard to play a G7 chord. Remember that we can’t use the first version because it uses all four fingers and doesn’t leave the first finger free to form the bar.

Using the same principle as before, the notes of the G Major scale are G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G. The first, third, fifth, and flatted seventh notes forming the G7 chord are G, B, D, and F.

The  diagram below shows the second version of E7 moved up to the 3rd fret to form G7. The notes are G, D, F, B, F, and G.

G7 Chord

G7 Chord

Finally, the diagram below shows the easy two finger version of E7 moved up to the 3rd fret to give G7. The notes are G, D, F, B, D, and G.

G7 Chord

G7 Chord

If either of these two chord shapes are moved up to the fifth fret, we have an A7 chord, Move it up to the seventh fret, we have a B7 chord, and so on. The root note of the chord is the note played on the sixth string.

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A7 Chord

Dominant 7th Chords Part 2 – A7 Chord

This article looks at the dominant seventh chords with its root note on the fifth string of the guitar. Here are the notes on the fifth string:

Fifth String Notes

Fifth String Notes

We’ll use the key of A Major. Using the same music theory we used in the first part, Dominant 7th Chords, counting whole-whole-half-whole-whole-whole-half, the notes of the A Major scale are:

A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, A.

Using the 7th chord formula, the notes of the A7 chord are the first, third, fifth, and flatted seventh notes of the major scale, which are:

A, C#, E, and G.

Here are three possible variations of the A7 chord with the root note, A, being played at the open fifth string. Notice how I’ve shown the open sixth string being played. As I explained with the A Major chord, the lowest note played should be the root note of the chord. Because the open sixth string, E, is part of the chord, I think you can choose yourself whether to play it or not, see how it sounds.

First version of the A7 chord. The notes are E, A, E, G, C#, E. There are many finger combinations you can use with this chord, I’ll let you pick the one you’re most comfortable with. You can use the first and second fingers, the second and third fingers, or the third and fourth fingers.

A7 Chord

A7 Chord

For the second version of the A7 chord below, I would bar the second, third, and fourth strings with the first finger. You can fret the first string with the second, third, or fourth finger. It depends on what chord you’re changing from or to. Experiment to find the best combination for you. The notes are E, A, E, A, C#, G.

A7 Chord

A7 Chord

The last version of the A7 chord is one that you probably won’t find in the chord books and is a mix of the first two. You can use either the first, second, and third fingers for this or the second, third and fourth. The notes are E, A, E, G, C#, and G.

A7 Chord

A7 Chord

We’re now going to take these chords and move them up to the third fret to make a C7 chord, the root note being the C on the third fret of the fifth string.

The notes of the C Major scale, probably the easiest and first scale you learn because there’s no sharps or flats in it, are:

C, D, E, F, G, A, B, and C.

From this, the notes of the C7 chord, made up of the first, third, fifth, and flatted seventh notes of the C Major scale, are:

C, E, G, and Bb.

This is the first version of the C7 chord at the third fret. The notes are G, C, G, Bb, E, and G.

C7 Chord

C7 Chord

Second version of the C7 chord. Notes G, C, G, C, E, and Bb.

C7 Chord

C7 Chord

Last version of the C7 chord. Notes G, C, G, Bb, E, and Bb.

C7 Chord

C7 Chord