Easy 3-Note Blues Chords

author: JunkyardStalker date: 12/17/2009 category: music styles
rating: 8.5 / votes: 14 
Something I stumbled upon when messing with alternate tunings and building chords. Instead of playing full dominant 7th chords, a three-note dominant 7th (no 5) chord can still produce a suitably bluesy sound with some other little bonuses. First things first, unless I'm terribly mistaken, a dominant 7th (no 5) chord has the notes in a dominant 7th chords (1 3 5 b7), but without the 5, giving 1 3 b7. The following diagram shows the three dominant 7th (no 5) chords for blues in major A key.
   I A7(no5) IV D7(no5) V E7(no5)
e|-------------------------------
B|-------------------------------
G|-----------5---------7---------
D|-5---------4---------6---------
A|-4---------5---------7---------
E|-5-----------------------------
And one very obvious point is that they all have the same chord shape. Also, they utilize no open strings. Hence, the chords can be moved along the strings for different keys. One chord shape to rule them all, kinda thing. It's as easy, if not easier, to play as power chords. If the bass note is on other strings except E and A, the chords will have the shape of:
   G7(no5) C7(no5) D7(no5)
e|---------6-------8------
b|-6-------5-------7------
G|-4-------5-------7------
D|-5----------------------
A|------------------------
E|------------------------
Another advantage is how easily beginners can play the 12-bar blues. When playing open string dominant 7th chords, one has to remember what chord, exactly, is the I IV and V chord. Using these simple chords, however, it is quite easy to visualize on the fretboard. To get the IV, just shift the root note one string upwards (towards the thinner strings) from the I chord. To get the V, move the IV chord 2 frets higher. Just look at the diagrams above to get a clear view. You don't even have to know what chord you're playing. Also, an extra advantage I can think of is a mobile finger to play with some variations. Say you use index finger, middle finger and ring ringer to hold down the dominant 7th (no 5), you still have a pinky to move around. An example is:
Let ring
e|------------------------
b|------------------------
G|------------------------
D|-7--7--5--5--5-----5----
A|-4-----4-----7--7--4--4-
E|-5-----5-----5-----5----
A descending melody line with part of the chord ringing... I'm quite sure there are many other possible variations.
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