Sweeten Your Guitar Playing With Major 7th Chords

Sweeten Your Guitar Playing With Major 7th Chords

If you know your major and minor chords on the guitar, and maybe some 7th’s and barre chords, there might come a point where things become a little stale and you start looking for different ways to add some spice to your playing.

One easy way to do that is to learn how to play some basic major 7th chords.

Major 7th chords have a “sweet” sound to them. They are used a lot in jazz, R&B and pop music. They can take a regular old major chord and breathe new life into it.

Without getting into a music theory discussion about the “why” behind and major 7th chord, let’s take a look at the “how” to play one.

Let’s look at forming a G major 7th chord. We can easily reference how to play one by first staring with a G major chord played in the 2nd position at the 3rd fret, using just the first four strings.

E———–3————————–

B———–3————————–

G—————4———————-

D——————–5—————–

A—————————————

E—————————————

Now all we have to do to turn this G major chord into a G major 7th chord, is to lower the note at the 3rd fret of the 1st string ½ step (or one fret).

E——–2—————————–

B———–3————————–

G—————4———————-

D——————-5——————

A—————————————

E—————————————

Of course, we will have to make a fingering adjustment to pull this off. In the first example of the G major chord, we would typically barre the notes on the 1st and 2nd strings (at the 3rd fret) with our first finger. Then use the 2nd and 3rd finger to play the other two notes.

When we change that to a G major seventh chord, we will use the 1st finger to play the note on the 1st string (at the 2nd fret), and follow the rest of the fingering with our 2nd, 3rd and 4th fingers respectively.

You can apply this concept to anywhere on the fret board you desire. By starting with the major chord, you can now figure out how to play a major 7th anywhere on the neck.

Slide the first example above up two frets, and you are playing an A major chord. Then just lower the highest note of that chord by one fret and you are playing an A major seventh.

In addition, if you play an F major chord at the first fret, and want to make it a major 7th, simply release the note on the 1st fret of the 1st string and let it play open, and presto, you’re playing an F major seventh.

Major 7th chords can be fun to work with to jazz up some of your chord progressions. You can often substitute a major seventh chord for a major, but not always.

Use them sparingly, as the “icing on the cake” and not necessarily the main course, and you will often find that they will “sweeten” things up just right!

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