This lesson for intermediate guitar players shows you some positions to play major 7th chords that can be moved around the fretboard.
In major keys the major 7th chord occurs on the I or IV chord of the key. It can also be used on the VI chord in a minor key. We're going to learn three moveable shapes based on the moveable A, F and D chord shapes.
A - Chord Shape
The first position shown below is based on the moveable A chord shape. The root is on the 5th string.
You can think of the little triangle on the second, third and fourth strings as an open D7 chord shape. Play this triangle with your little, middle and ring fingers on the second, third and fourth strings respectively. Add your index to play the root on the fifth string.
In a band situation where another instrument such as the bass plays the root note you can simply play the three-note triangle - the maj 3rd, 5th and 7th of the chord.
You can optionally play this chord by barring with your index finger to play the notes on the fifth and first strings - the root and 5th of the chord respectively.
F - Chord Shape
The position shown below is based on the moveable F bar chord shape.
You can finger this chord on the guitar as follows:
- First finger on the sixth string - the root of the chord
- Second finger on the second string - the 5th of the chord
- Third finger on the fourth string - the 7th of the chord
- Fourth finger on the third string - the maj 3rd of the chord
Alternatively, you can bar all six strings with your index and play the other notes as follows:
- Second finger on the third string - the major 3rd of the chord
- Third finger on the fourth string - the 7th
- Fourth finger on the fifth string - the 5th
Avoid the fifth string when you play this form – it’s best suited to fingerstyle playing.
D - Chord Shape
The D chord shape gives you an easy to play position shown below. The note on the second string is the major 7th. You might be more used to seeing this note one fret higher where it is the root of the chord in the familiar D chord triangle shape.
You can play the root note with your first finger and then use your ring or little finger to bar the top three strings two frets higher. You can also play the easier root-less form, barring only the top three strings.
This lesson has shown you several positions to play major 7th chords all over the guitar neck based on moveable A, F and D chords. All of these chords will give your fingers a good work out. Some of the positions are harder to master than others so you'll need to spend some practice time on them.