7th chords

The 7th chord (also known as dominant 7th) adds another tone to the major triad chord. As the name implies, the added tone is seven steps from the root (following the scale). These chords are also called dominant chords, and they are especially common in blues.

Dominant 7 chords

Dominant 7 chords with sharp or flat root

C#7 / Db7

  • C#7 chord diagram

D#7 / Eb7

  • D#7 chord diagram

F#7 / Gb7

  • F#7 chord diagram

G#7 / Ab7

  • G#7 chord diagram

A#7 / Bb7

  • A#7 chord diagram


The chord names are on top of the pictures. The x letters and numbers indicate that the string shouldn't be played, alternatively on which frets. These chords are not to be confused with the maj7 and m7 chords.


The dominant 7th chord can be found on the V degree in a major scale. In C major, this would be G7. That is the reason that G7 are common in progression based on the major C key whereas F7 isn't.

The dominant seventh doesn't fully correspond to the key of major with the last tone corresponding with the minor scale. This result in a slight dissonant sounding chord. In chord progressions, they often function as the second last chord, being instable and resolving to the “home chord”, as in the following progression: C - Am - G7 - C.

Chord formula

The dominant seventh is built with the formula 1-3-5-b7 (root, major 3rd, perfect 5th and minor 7th).

Chord construction

C7  x - C - E - Bb - C - E
C#7  x - C# - F - B - C# - x
D7  x - x - D - A - C - F#
D#7  x - D# - G - C# - D - x
E7  E - B - D - G# - B - E
F7  F - C - Eb - A - C - F
F#7  x - x - F# - A# - C# - E
G7  G - B - D - G - B - F
G#7  x - x - G# - D# - F# - C
A7  x - A - E - G - C# - E
A#7  x - x - A# - F - G# - D
B7  x - B - D# - A - B - F#
Guitar versions of the chord

Notes in chord

C7  C - E - G - Bb
C sharp 7  C# - F - G# - B
D7  D - F# - A - C
D sharp 7  D# - G - A# - C#
E7  E - G# - B - D
F7  F - A - C - Eb
F sharp 7  F# - A# - C# - E
G7  G - B - D - F
G sharp 7  G# - C - D# - F#
A7  A - C# - E - G
A sharp 7  A# - D - F - G#
B7  B - D# - F# - A
The intervals are 1 – 3 – 5 – b7


Suggestions of chord sequences that includes dominant sevenths:


C - E7 - Am


D - F#7 - G

A chord that resolves into the tonic

In chord progressions, a seventh chord is often used just before the last chord, the tonic. This is because that the seventh chord resolves well into the tonic. Some examples:

A7 - D
D7 - G
C7 - C

A few examples with full sequences (including one with D7sus4), using the seventh as a resolving chord, could be as follow:

D - Bm - G - A7 - D

G - Em - C - D7 - G


G - D/F# - Em - C - D7sus4 - D7 - G


And in a minor key:

Em - G - D - Am - B7 - Em

From major to dominant

In common method, especially in styles such as country, is to go from major to dominant with the same root: C - C7, D - D7, E - E7 and so on. A few examples of progressions using this idea:

A - D - D7 - G

D - G - G7 - D


E - A - A7 - C

Barre chord shapes

The seventh chord could of course be played as a barre chord. The main movable shapes for dominant 7th barre chords:

7th chords barre

The diagram to the left depicts an E7-shape barre chord for dominant 7th and the diagram to the right depicts an A7-shape barre chord (the lowest string should not be played) in the same chord group.

Movable shape with root on sixth string

Pictured below, is an alternative way to play the dominant seventh chord. The shape is movable with the root note on the lowest string. One way to play it is by alternating the thumb on the lowest string and when pluck the rest of the string with the fingers. Bass walks are of course possible and are useful in blues. In jazz arrangements, the B-string is sometimes omitted.

7th chord barre

Movable shape with root on fifth string

This is another alternative way to play the dominant seventh chord. Once again is the shape movable and this time with the root note on the A-string.

7th chord moveable

Movable shapes with root on fourth string

And last, two movable alternatives. The first with the root on the D-string (the fourth).

7th chord moveable

This is also a popular choice, but notice that this is a voicing. The root note is on the G-string (third string).

7th chords barre

7th chord in open position

Here are additional shapes in open position for this chord category:

C#7/Db7: X4310X
F#7/Gb7: XX4320

7th chord alterations

Alterations means that a note in the chord is altered, for example, a flattened fifth. Here are some examples using C as root tone (the shapes are movable).

C7#5: X3X354
C7b5: X3435X
C7#9: X3234X
C7b9: X3232X

We can compare these alterations with the standard dominant seventh:

Chord construction

C7  x - C - E - Bb - C - E
C7#5  x - C - x - Bb - E - G#
C7b5  x - C - Gb - Bb - E - x
C7#9  x - C - E - Bb - D# - x
C7b9  x - C - E - Bb - Db - x
Guitar versions of the chord

Notes in chord

C7 C - E - G - Bb
C7#5 C - E - G# - Bb
C7b5 C - E - Gb - Bb
C7#9 C - E - G - Bb - D#
C7b9 C - E - G - Bb - Db
Theoretical order of notes

In C7#5 (C7+5) and C7b5 (C7-5) the fifth are raised or flattened. And in C7#9 (C7+9) and C7b9 (C7-9) a sharp or a flat ninth are added. See the presentation of the "sharp nine chord".

Back to chord types

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