14. Major 7th chords

So like…chords can have different majors when they study music and this is the 7th one of them?

1. Topics of discussion

In this tutorial, we will be talking about major 7th chords and we will learn how to play them on your guitar. So, let’s have some fun.

2. Major 7th chords on guitar

Major 7th chords are obtained by adding the seventh note of the major scale of the root note of the chord on top of the major triad formed on that note.

For example, if we wanted to play the Cmaj7 chord, all we’d have to do on any instrument is play the notes C-E-G-B simultaneously. In other words, we’d play the first, third, fifth and seventh notes from the C major scale.

Taking all of that into account, we can define the chord formula for major 7th chords as being:

1 3 5 7

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s revisit the CAGED system and play a good old Dmaj7 chord using each of those forms. I will be using Dmaj7 as a chord this time around for variety reasons. First off, the C form:

E|---2---|
B|---2---|
G|---2---|
D|---4---|
A|---5---|
E|-------|

Here it is played back:

Finger wise, we play it like this:

Dmaj7_Cform

Let’s move on to the A form:

E|---5---|
B|---7---|
G|---6---|
D|---7---|
A|---5---|
E|-------|

Here it is played back:

Finger wise, we play this chord as follows:

Dmaj7_Aform

Let’s move on to the G form:

E|---9----|
B|---7----|
G|---7----|
D|---7----|
A|---9----|
E|---10---|

Here it is played back:

Finger wise, we have the following:

Dmaj7_Gform

Let’s move on to the E form:

E|----10----|
B|----14----|
G|----11----|
D|----12----|
A|----12----|
E|----10----|

Here it is played back:

Finger wise, we have a more difficult chord to play:

Dmaj7_Eform

Let’s move on to the D form:

E|---2---|
B|---2---|
G|---2---|
D|---0---|
A|-------|
E|-------|

Here it is played back:

Finger wise, we have the following way of playing:

Dmaj7_Dform

As you can see, the E from is by far the most difficult one and very very hard to get right especially if you’re playing fast. The idea behind 7th chords is that it’s important to have that 7th note present, regardless of the chord form you’re using. More often than not, if you have two notes from the chord and that 7th note, the musical idea of a seventh chord will be implied to the listener without much problem.

That about covers it for this tutorial. In the next one, we will be switching it up a bit (based on chord names) and talk about dominant seventh chords. You’ll see why next time.

Chord charts generated using this chord generator

 

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