Intro To 7th Chords Using A Practical Example Guitar

author: V8v8v8 date: 10/04/2012 category: guitar techniques
rating: 3.8 / votes: 8 
Intro To 7th Chords Using A Practical Example Guitar
This one is especially for mizzt. mp3 examples are available here (4.1mb zip file). Through this -ahem- 'lesson' I'm going to refer to the following practical example using four chords : C - A - D - G. (Progression is in the Key of C).
 CMaj AMaj DMaj GMaj
e|----3----5----5----3----| 
B|----5----5----7----3----| 
G|----5----6----7----4----| 
D|----5----7----7----5----| 
A|----3----7----5----5----| 
E|----X----5----X----3----| 
If you need fingerings of the various shapes please use a chord dictionary/chart (e.g. http://chordfind.com/). I also have not gone into inversions (variations). As we go along we'll 'flavour' these basic major chords using Major7th, Minor7th and Dominant7th chords so our ears can get a feel for the sound. Example 1. Play the example using only the major chords detailed above. Sounds kinda 'pop'? Crank up some overdrive, add some strumming patterns and you could go into punk-ish/indie rock? Example 2. Let's start with a Dominant 7th chord. These are commonly used in Blues progressions, occasionally used in Jazz, Flamenco, Pop, etc... as well. Typically referred to as 7th's, they are not to confused with a Major7th - they sound completely different (imho). Ok, Substitute all four major chords with (Dominant) 7th chords: C7, A7, D7, G7. From a standard major chord fingering, you'll only have to lift a finger for each chord to make it a Dominant 7th. In the last example I'll show a slightly different version of a Dominant 7th chord.

 C7   A7   D7   G7 
e|----3----5----5----3----|
B|----5----5----7----3----|
G|----3----6----5----4----|
D|----5----5----7----3----|
A|----3----7----5----5----|
E|----X----5----X----3----|
Now sounding a bit bluesy? That's the 7th note within the chord. Example 3. Let's dig into the Minor7th now. Substitute all four Dominant7th chords with Minor7th chords : Cm7, Am7, Dm7, Gm7. I personally enjoy throwing the odd minor chord into a progression, especially a Minor7th for contrast.

 C7   A7   D7   G7 
e|----3----5----5----3----|
B|----4----5----6----3----|
G|----3----5----5----3----|
D|----5----5----7----3----|
A|----3----7----5----5----|
E|----X----5----X----3----|
Ok, sounding a bit soulful maybe? Although now, the last chord (Gm7) sounds odd to me in this particular progression. Example 4. Right, onto the Major7th chords. Substitute all four chords with Major7th chords : CMaj7, AMaj7, DMaj7, GMaj7. I don't often use a Major7th - except where Dominant7th or Minor7th just doesn't sound right and a Major chord isn't interesting enough. The fingering is similar to a Dominant7th, except you are adding a note (finger) back to the shape.
CMaj7 AMaj7 DMaj7  GMaj7 
e|----3-----5-----5-----3----|   
B|----5-----5-----7-----3----|   
G|----4-----4-----6-----4----|   
D|----5-----4-----7-----4----|   
A|----3-----7-----5-----5----|   
E|----X-----5-----X-----3----|   
This sounds jazzy to me, although the AMaj7 sounds out of place now? Example 5. Putting it all together. This is something I use to remind me of the different flavours of 7th chord and demo it to friends who'd like something simple to play : CMaj7, AMin7, Dmin7, G7 (extended with a extra 7th note on the B string).
CMaj7 AMin7 Dmin7  G7  
e|----3-----5-----5-----3----|
B|----5-----5-----6-----6----|
G|----4-----5-----5-----4----|
D|----5-----5-----7-----3----|
A|----3-----7-----5-----5----|
E|----X-----5-----X-----3----|
To my ears, all the chords sound like they belong in a chilled jazz-ish progression and nothing sounds particularly 'out'. There is a solid theory reasoning for this, but more importantly my ears like it. (And that is because it follows the basic 'guidelines' of Chord Movements in the Major Key - In this case we are in the Key of C). Rainy days - Just a quick demo of a possible use of this progression. (And I feel very rusty playing it!) A few thoughts: 1. Knowing a lot of chords and scales is useful, but not critical. Your ears are as useful as theory and practising your theory using practical examples is (imho) the key. 2. Listen to something that inspires you. Use your ears, figure it out. Practice with a metronome (or drum loop) and don't rush. 3. Using fragments (partial voicings) of chords is common. Once you know a shape experiment with playing two/three note pieces of the chord. (Two or more notes played together constitutes a chord). 4. A fretboard is not a intuitive place (unlike a keyboard) - you'll have to know where the notes are - so theory can be useful (e.g. chord shapes and scales). 5. Inversions (variations) of chords are cool. They are differing ways of fingering the notes that make up chords. E.g. you can play a variety of Dominant 7 chord shapes around the fretboard that all sound slightly different because the guitar IS NOT a keyboard - strings differ in gauge (thickness) and deliver a different sound (e.g. a open string vs fretted string, a wound bass string vs a plain treble string).
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