How To Play Dominant Seventh Chords

Hello and welcome to another chord of the month article, where we focus on a particular chord or chord type with the goal of helping you better understand what it is, how to use it and finish with a few songs so you can put it the new shapes to use.
This month we are looking at Dominant 7th chords, you might have seen these already as they pop up a lot and are shown in music as a letter, followed by the number 7, such as C7.
Dominant Sevenths are part of the wider seventh family which also includes Major Seventh, Minor Seventh, Half Diminished & Diminished Seventh chords. 

However, we are not going to worry about any of those others today but just know there is more where they came from 😱

What is a Dominant 7th Chord?

A dominant seventh is quite an interesting chord type because it is part major and part minor. If you don’t know already, major chords are happy sounding chords and minor are sad sounding chords. 

Press play below to hear the three different types of chords.
It is this mixture of happy and sad that gives the chord its unique sound which is very bluesy. In fact, blues music is often built off Dominant seventh chords which we will look at in more detail later. 

You will also see Dominant seventh chords pop up in pop music and rock music and just about everything else in between.

Dominant 7th Chord Shapes

Dominant Sevenths are very similar chord shapes to the major chords you probably all ready know. 

It is so much easier to learn and remember chords when they resemble shapes you already know. Below I have compared Dominant Seventh chords and Major chords side by side, so you can see the similarities.
A Dominant Seventh
To change the A Major chord into a Dominant Seventh all you need to do is remove your 2nd finger from the G string (as shown in the second picture). However, it is more common though to use your second finger on the D string, as shown in the third picture. 
C Dominant Seventh
To play C Dominant Seventh all you need to do is place your fourth finger on to the G string, fret three. As the fourth finger is normally the weakest finger it might take a bit of practice to get to this chord shape quickly but you will get there just be patient.
D Dominant Seventh
D Dominant Seventh is just a backwards D Major chord shape. Just think of it as a mirror image of itself.
E Dominant Seventh
To play E Dominant Seventh all you need to do is remove your third finger from the D string, fret two. Just be careful that your second finger doesn’t touch the open D string and stop it from sounding.
F Dominant Seventh
Depending on how long you have been playing guitar for, you might not have come across the F chord yet as it is a bit tricky. 

To change F chord into F7 you need to put you fourth finger onto the B string in fret four, this makes a very stretchy shape, so might take a little while to get use to it.
G Dominant Seventh

G Seventh is a very similar shape to the G Major chord but you do need to change your fingers around to get it. 

As you can see in the diagram, your first finger goes on the E string fret one, second finger on the A string fret two and your third finger goes on the E string fret three. You can think of this chord as a C shape pulled apart.
B Dominant Seventh
We do not play a B chord open, so cannot compare a B7 chord to its Major counterpart but to complete the Dominate Sevenths chords we do need to cover it. 
This shape is probably the most tricky to get, as it uses all four fingers and it is really easy to touch adjacent strings and mute them accidentally.


Beginner Guitar Academy members click the button below to download the Dominant Seventh chord sheet (you need to be logged in first). If you are not an academy member click here to see what you are missing out on and sign up.

12 Bar Blues Key Of A

As I said earlier Dominant Seventh chord are used a lot in Blues music. 

Below is a video taken from a recent workshop I did in the academy called ‘Beginning Blues Rhythm Guitar’.
In this video I go through a 12 bar blues in the Key of A that uses the A7, D7 & E7 Dominant Seventh chords (academy members can find the whole workshop in the workshop archives).

Dominant Seventh Guitar Songs

Here are a few songs that use Dominant Seventh chords so you can put your new shapes to work:
Well there you are, you now know what a Dominant Seventh chord is, all the common open shapes and a few songs to put them to work.
Any questions or comments drop them below, otherwise thanks for reading and I will see you soon.

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