7th Chords - Some Useful Shapes


Below are some useful chord shapes for the types of 7th chord that occur in a major key. They are broken into 3 sets, based generally on which string the root note is played on, with variations on each shape provided where applicable.

The chord tones are marked at the bottom of each diagram, with the fingers to be used denoted by numbers within the dots on the diagram. Note that some shapes require the thumb (marked as a 'T') to be looped over the edge of the neck to fret a note on the 6th string.

Also keep an eye out for strings where no note is played at all (marked as a 'x' below the diagram). You can try to mute these unplayed strings by damping the string with a finger on the string next to it (e.g. reaching over the string being played). By muting the unplayed strings the whole chord can be strummed if you want, without hitting any outside notes.

All of these are moveable - the chord being played will depend on where the root note of the chord is played.


Set 1

Nothing too complicated here, but watch for the bass note fretted by the thumb in those half-diminished chords, along with the odd unplayed string.

Major 7th Minor 7th Dominant 7th Half-Diminished


Set 2

Again, reasonably straight-forward. The major 7th chord shape might be a bit of a stretch at first, but persevere - at a push you could change the fingering and ignore the note on the 6th string, thus giving you an easier-to-play shape with a different bass note.

Major 7th Minor 7th Dominant 7th Half-Diminished


Set 3

The last half-diminished shape here looks a bit odd at first sight, as there's a barre that runs across two frets instead of the more usual scenario of barring at a single fret. Try this one out - it's a useful shape, and easier to play than you might think.

Major 7th Minor 7th Dominant 7th Half-Diminished


These chords shapes are worth getting to grips with, so take the time to learn them. Experiment with writing and/or arranging chord progressions using these shapes (and remember to employ voice leading to keep things sounding smooth). Good luck.

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