Guitar Tricks Blog
Posted: March 1, 2019

7th Chords Explained

7th chords are triads but with the addition of one more note, the 7th. Common 7th chords are major 7th (Cmaj7), minor 7th (Cmin7) and the dominant 7th (C7). These chords are used in all genres of music including blues, jazz, rock and more. 

As always, you can check out our entire catalog of chord charts here

Watch Mike's lesson on the three types of 7th chords below, or follow along the rest of the blog post if you prefer to read about it. 

First let’s take a look at the major 7th chord, or maj7 for short. Let’s take a C major chord and turn that into a C major 7th chord. 

The C major chord is made up of three notes from the C major scale: C - E - G C is the root note, E is the major 3rd, and G is the 5th. 

To turn this into a major seventh chord, we must add one more note, the major 7th. We can find the major 7th note by looking at the C major scale. Here it is:

C - D - E - F - G  - A - B

We can see that the B note is the 7th note in the scale, so we’ll use that as our major 7th. All we have to do is simply add that note to the C major chord and we’ll get a C major 7th chord. It looks like this:

C - E - G - B  

Let’s recap. In order to make a major 7th chord, you must take the root note, the major 3rd, the 5th, and the major 7th. 

The second type of 7th chord is a minor 7th. We’ll do what we did above, and take a C major chord and turn that into a C minor 7th! 

The full C minor scale looks like this:

C - D - Eb - F - G - Ab - Bb

A C minor chord is made up of three notes, the C, which is the root note, the flat 3rd, which is Eb, and then the 5th, which is G. So a C minor looks like this:

C - Eb - G

To turn this into a minor 7th chord, we must add one more note, but this time we’ll add the minor 7th, which is Bb. So the C minor 7th chord looks like this:

C - Eb - G - Bb

Last but not least, the dominant 7th chord has a major 3rd but also a flat or minor seventh in it. In a way, it’s kind of like mixing a minor and a major 7th chord together. Here’s what a C Dominant 7th chord looks like:

C - E - G - Bb

7th chords are used in just about every genre of music including rock, blues, jazz, metal, and more. Here are a couple of songs for you to practice these 7th chords. 

Lovin’ You - Minnie Riperton

This song is great not only for learning your 7th chords, but to also get a good feel for rhythm and fingerpicking style. You'll get a nice thumb workout as you have to pluck the bass notes with your thumb. All you need is an acoustic guitar! This song starts off with a fun chord progression that uses Dmaj7, C#m7 and a Bmin7. Give it a try! 

 

I Saw Her Standing There - The Beatles

If you want to learn how to play dominant 7th chords and work on your rhythm guitar playing, look no further than this classic from The Beatles. The intro to the song features a repeated riff with an E7 triad, which is also known as a E dominant 7th chord.

 

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