Drop 3 Chords

by Joe Kataldo

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    Chord Knowledge


    Finger Dexterity

    Hi Guys, Joe Kataldo here, today lesson deal with "Drop 3" Chords. They have many uses, from Jazz Arranging to Guitar chords, physically not playable, if not arranged this way. We will concentrate in latter, trying to not get to much into theory and learning them as a sequenced exercise.

    Drop 3 Chords

    The exercise present the main 4 kind of 7 chords: Maj7 - 7 - min7 - min7/b5 (or Half-diminished)

    Each chord is played in Root position, with the root on bass, I inversion with the 3rd on bass, II inversion with the 5th on bass and in III inversion with the 7th on bass.

    Theory Focus

    Trying to not write a book, I'll give you all the necessary Drop 3 information in a nut shell.

    First of all inversion of chords are created moving the lowest voices to the top voice, a 4 notes chords has a Root Position and 3 inversions

    Root Position G-B-D-F | I inversion B-D-F-G | II inversion D-F-G-B | III inversion F-G-B-D
    Root on Bass | 3rd on Bass | 5th on Bass | 7 on Bass

    They are called drop 3 because this voicing are made dropping or moving the 3rd voice from top at the octave belove, these for us guitar player is very useful, because makes possible play chords like 7 easily:


    Let's take an easy G7 chord:

    Harmonizing the C major parent scale scale in 3rd give us the following notes:

    G B D F respectively R - 3 - 5 - 7b = G7

    Lets assume we want to play an G7 chord following these note order:

    -6-- Not really easy and practical Ouch!

    Now lets assume that we want to play the III inversion of G7, always following these notes order:

    III inversion F-G-B-D

    -3-- No, neither Allan Holdsworth can!

    But lets see what happen if we drop the 3rd voice an octave below: G - F - B - D
    R - b7- 3 - 5

    -3-- Quite easy and nice sounding Yeah!

    Applying these process to all the voicing from Root position to inversions, you got 4 new shapes easy to play and nice sounding, called "Drop 3"

    Techniques Focus

    Practice these changes, in sequences of two, once mastered connect the remaining shapes. Also many fingers doesn't need to change string but simply shift a couple of frets up, these will really speed up the changes. About memorizing all these shapes, once you mastered one, for example an Gmaj7, you can simply move just one note, the 7th, a fret down, and you got a G7 chord, from there, move the 3rd a fret down, and you got a Gm7 chord, then move the 5th a fret down, and you got a Gm7/5b.

    These process, is better shown in video part one.

    Pro Tips

    A Fm7/b5 chord and an Abm6 chord, share the same notes, simply start from the second inversion of a m7/b5 chord an call it root position of a m6 chord.
    The same process apply for m7 an Maj6 chords, in these case Fm7 share the same notes of an AbMaj6 chord. So actually, if practiced this exercise, you already know 6th chords too!

    See Ya Next Lesson

    Joe Kataldo
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