Easy Dominant Chords

One of the most popular chord types in music after the basic Major's and Minor's are the Dominant Seventh chords. This Dominant chord quality simply places a minor 7th interval above a Major Triad to produce the quality. However, the result of adding the Minor 7th is a very sour sound and one which works great in Pop music, Folk songs, jazz numbers and especially Blues.

Don't allow the name to throw you, these chords are literally applied all over the place as chords written with, "7," in their naming symbols showing as; "C7, F7, A7, etc." Unlike Minor 7th or Major 7th, (notated as; m7 and maj7), chords written with the, "7," alone are all, "Dominant Seventh."

Quite often guitar students will learn large open position Dominant 7 chords, or awkward Dominant 7 moveable types. Neither of which can be very easy to play, nor do very many of these shapes sound any good to an untrained ear. After all, these chords are considered as "Dissonant," and they certainly come across as behaving very bitter or sour sounding.

In order to help make these chords both easier to learn and more fun to play, I have organized a small collection of Dominant 7th chord voicings that can be applied to any chord progression.

Let's begin with a group of very popular simple versions. In example one, the shapes are applied to, "D7," "A7," and "C7." Each of these shapes contain the root (naming note) of the chord within the bass, (as the lowest possible pitch). 

Learn the chord shapes first. Then, after listening to the audio clip of the example one progression, practice playing through the chord changes with a goal of producing a copy of the chord riff. Take your time, working toward clean, smooth rhythm and competent fret-board technique.


The next group of Dominant Seventh chord types will not all apply the 'root in the bass' position. When this occurs, these shapes (without bass-root notes) are known of as, "inversions."

A chord inversion is one in which the chord applies a note 'other than the root' within the bass. This might be any other chord tone, such as the; 3rd, 5th or the 7th chord tones. The selection of which tone is best suited as the bass tone is entirely up to the musician.

In example two, the chord changes move from an, "A7," with the 5th in the bass, to a "D7" in the root position, to a, "C#7," with the 3rd in the bass, and the final chord will be another "D7" with the root in the bass, (this time located off of the third string - labeled on the example two chart as; "D7 type2").

Spend a few minuets learning the chord shapes first. Then, after listening to the audio clip of how the example two progression is supposed to sound, practice playing through the chord changes with a goal of producing a good copy of the chord riff. Take your time, and  work at playing clean, smooth rhythm guitar and using competent fret-board technique.


When it comes to learning any kind of chord type, understanding "where" the chord can be applied and how they sound is paramount. As every guitar players skills develop, the knowledge for both chords and rhythm guitar expands through applied use in the field as well as, through at home study and practice.

Like anything we pursue, there's no substitute for good education. I've met far too many musicians /guitar players who know the sound of a chord, (or the fretting hand's fingering), but do not know the chords name. It is so important for every player to expand their knowledge of formal music theory at every opportunity. Keep in mind that the more knowledge you have the better you can communicate with your fellow musicians.

Thanks for reading this week's Blogger post.
All the best - Andrew Wasson


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