36 Ways of Playing a Dominant 7 Chord on Guitar - Beginner to Advanced

Drop 2 dominant 7 chordsDominant 7 chords are one of the most important chords to know, they can be found in many styles of music as blues, funk, pop and of course in jazz music. In this lesson we will see how dominant 7 chords are built and how to play them on guitar using 36 different voicings and shapes.

How is Built a Dominant 7th Chord?

Dominant 7 chords are built from the fifth note of any scale. Exemple with the C major scale, the dominant chord is formed by stacking thirds from the fifth note of C major which is G.

The principle is the same with the melodic minor scale, when stacking thirds on the fifth degree of the C minor melodic scale we get a G7 chord.

You can see a dominant 7 chord as a major triad (1 3 5) with an added flattened seventh (b7) giving the following interval pattern :

  • R (root note)
  • 3 (major third)
  • 5 (perfect fifth)
  • b7 (minor seventh)

Dominant 7 chords are generally written with a "7" beside the name of the root of the chord, example with C7. They are represented with "V" when using roman numerals, exemple V7.

Open Dominant 7 Chord Shapes

The following open chord shapes represent the starting point for a beginner. They are mostly used to play songs. Open chords are generally easy to play, they don't require much dexterity to execute. The particularity of these types of chords is that they have open strings that are played. In the diagrams below the open strings are represented by a little circle near the nut.

Barre Chord Shapes

Barre chords require more finger strenght indeed, you need to bar with you index to play them. This is a real difficulty for a beginner. The interest of barre chords is that they are are movable, in other words it means that the two guitar shapes below can be moved all across the guitar neck. For example, to play a G7 chord using the first diagram on the left you must bar the third fret with your index finger. Move the position up to fret and you get an A7.

Dominant 7 Jazz Chord Positions - Drop Voicings

Now you have mastered all the basic dominant 7 chord positions it's time to move on more complex shapes. The following provides 28 supplementary dominant 7 chord positions based on drop 2, drop 3 and drop 2-4 voicings.

You are probably wondering what are drop voicings, here is a small reminder :

 Drop 2 Dominant 7 Chord Shapes

The three guitar neck diagrams below show how to play drop 2 dominant 7 chords on guitar. Each diagram contains four different dom7 chord shapes. The first diagram have the bass notes on the fourth string, the second have bass notes on the fifth string and the third have root notes on the sixth string. Remember that there are only four notes (1 - 3 - 5 - b7), they are simply played in a different order.

Drop 3 Dominant 7 Chord Shapes

The next two diagrams contain eight other dominant 7 chord voicing shapes. You can see that there is a string skip between the lowest note of each shape. This is the particularity of the drop 3 chords.

Drop 2-4 Dominant 7 Chord Shapes

Drop 2-4 voicings are not the most used in jazz guitar but it is interesting to know them. The next two diagrams give you eight new possibilities to play dominant 7 chords on guitar.

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