Go beyond basic guitar chords with these must-learn 7th shapes

Step up your acoustic and electric rhythm playing

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ACOUSTIC WEEK: Take the next step up from basic major and minor shapes and discover new sounds with three kinds of ‘7th’ chord.

Don’t worry about the chord names for now - just listen to how they sound…

Tense, bright, edgy sound: dominant 7 chords

These chords are based on C, D, E, G and A major shapes, which you probably already know.

Those major chords have a ‘happy’ vibe, which is great for bright, upbeat music, but they can at times sound a bit too basic. The edgier sound of these chords is ideal for blues, blues-rock and funk.

Hear it!

The Beatles - I Saw Her Standing There

Much of this Lennon/McCartney rocker uses E7, A7 and B7 chords.

Mellow, relaxed sound: major 7 chords

Without getting too deep into music theory, major 7th chords are created by adding an extra note to a basic major shape – and you only need to make a simple fingering change for each one.

The laid-back sound makes these chords perfect for smooth jazz or a ballad in any style of music.

Hear it!

Marvin Gaye - What’s Going On

The opening bars of Gaye’s classic soul hit chop away on Emaj7.

Tense, dark, moody sound: minor 7 chords

Just three chords this time because open Gm7 and Cm7 shapes are rarely used, leaving just Dm7, Em7 and Am7.

Practise by strumming each chord, then picking each string to check they are all ringing clearly. Minor 7th chords are used in most styles of music as alternatives to minor chords – generally with a lighter feel.

Hear it!

Oasis - Wonderwall

Noel Gallagher’s opening acoustic chord is an open position Em7.

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