Theory Quick Tip - 7th Chords
The Professor
Oct 14 2013, 10:43 AM
Theory Instructor
Posts: 888
Joined: 8-January 13
From: Manchester UK
In today's theory quick tip we'll be looking at an easy way that you can view 7th chords on paper and on the fretboard.

Rather than thinking of 7th chords as four notes, such as C E G Bb for C7 (R-3-5-b7), you can think of these chords as two different triads.

When doing so you can picture a C triad from the root of the chord, C E G, then an Edim triad from the 3rd of the chord, E G Bb, which when combined give you the full, C7 chord shape.

This is particularly helpful when learning how to play and apply 7th chords on the guitar, as you actually don't have to learn anything new in order to sound a 7th-chord shape on the neck.

You can simply play a diminished triad from the 3rd of the 7th chord you want to play, and voila, you have a 7th chord, as the bass player holds down the root and completes the 4-note shape.

Playing a diminished triad from the 3rd of a 7th chord, or moving between a tonic triad and diminished triad from the third, such as C and Edim over C7, is a great way to break down a complex chord, use previous knowledge (triads) and quickly play these shapes on the fretboard without having to learn anything new.

What do you think about breaking 7th chords down into triads on the guitar? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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