Start Playing Advanced Guitar Chords - 039

podcast Sep 25, 2018

Today, I take the first step with you toward playing advanced guitar chords. We’ll leave open and bar chords in the dust and start playing something special!

 

 

What chords to use


For this exercise we are only going to use chords that use four different notes. If you remember from episode 5 “Really understanding chords” and the blog post that goes with it called “How To Build Chords and Arpeggios”, our two basic types of chords are based on the number of notes in the chords.

Regular Major and minor chords use three notes and are called triads. The other type of basic chord we commonly use are seventh chords which contain four notes.

How did we know what notes to use to build those chords. If you remember it all starts with the Major scale and we gave each note in the Major scale a number, 1-7.

As an example, a C major chord has the notes C, E, and G. Those are the first, third, and fifth notes of the C major scale. We started out with the first note and skipped every other note to complete the chord. Those three notes make up the C Major triad.

To make that Major triad a minor one, we then could lower the third by one half step, one fret. That would give us C, Eb, and G. A C minor triad.

But for today we are working with seventh chords which are four note chords. How do we get that. Well to create a seventh chord we need to skip one more time. We need the first, third, fifth, and seventh notes from the Major scale. That last added note, the seventh, is why we call these seventh chords.

In the key of C, that would be: C, E, G, and B. Those notes together create the C major 7th chord.

There are many different types of seventh chords: Major 7, minor 7th, dominant 7th, diminished 7, minor 7th b5 (half diminished), minor major 7th, to name a few.

For today we are just going to focus on the three most basic seventh chords: the Major seventh, minor seventh, and Dominant seventh.

Let’s build these chords!

 

Over the years, if I asked a student to build a major 7th chord of some sort, at some fret,  I would usually be greeted with a blank stare. Or, I would occasionally be responded to with a “yeah, right, build a chord”, and some sort of laugh.

Building chords goes against what we are used to. Chord shapes are usually provided for us. Someone else has done the work. We just have to do the memorizing. But, by letting someone else do the work, we are giving up a great deal. The process of understanding the notes in the desired chord and finding new and interesting ways of voicing them is pure gold. It’s the doorway that leads to your next step in your musicianship (in the Awesome Guitar Player club!).

And, it’s not difficult at all, when you have the right information. With these limitations that we are imposing on ourselves today, things become a lot more manageable.

So the limitation of only using four strings to create chords with four notes, and making sure that each string gets one of those four chord tones, blocks out a ton of distractions. It becomes a super focused game.

It’s the game where you get to find which one of the four chord notes can I reach, on the strings I’m using, close to where my hand is on the guitar

That’s it!

It’s just: what chord note can I get here where my hand is.

So let’s do it! Let’s build some chords!

The chords we are going to build today are the: Major seventh, the minor seventh and the Dominant seventh chords. And, to make it as easy as possible, I’m going to choose to make them all some sort of G chord. G Major seventh, G minor seventh, and G Dominant seventh.

 

Here are the voicings that I’m going over today:

 

So let’s start with the G Major seventh.

 

The first step is: What are the notes we need to make a G Major seventh chord. To do this we need to know the G major scale.

 

It is:

 

G  A  B  C  D  E  F#

1  2   3  4   5  6  7

 

How did I get those notes? I used our major scale formula:

W W H W W W H

 

So to get the notes of our Major seventh chord, we start with the G and start skipping notes till we have four.

 

G  B D  F#

 

That’s it. Those are the notes from the G Major seventh chord. The major seventh chord come straight from the major scale. You don’t need to change anything.

 

So what we do from here is first find the G on the low string. It’s on the the third fret. Then all you do is make sure you get all of the other notes on our other three strings.

 

 

G Major 7th voicings

 

 

Building from the root

The G on the low E string is on the 3rd fret.

On the D string we have F# on the 4th fret

On the G string we have B on the 4th fret

On the B string we have D on the 3rd fret

 

There it is a G major seventh chord, right under our fingers at the third fret. I took the four notes we needed and found them on the four string that we chose.

 

Let try this same chord again, but start it off with the B note this time. Find the B on the low E string. It’s at the 7th fret. We have the B, now let’s find the rest of the notes: the G D and F#.

 

Building from the 3rd

 

The B on the low E string is on the 7th fret

On the D string we have G at the 5th fret

On the G string we have D on the 7th fret

On the B string we have F# on the 7th fret

 

There it is and it’s very easy to play. Let’s move on!

 

Building from the 5th

 

The D on the low E string is on the 10th fret

On the D string we have B on the 9th fret

On the G string we have F# on the 11th fret

On the B string we have G on the 8th fret

 

This one has a bit of a stretch to get that F# but it’s worth it. A very cool voicing of the G major 7th chord

 

Building from the 7

 

The F# on the low E string is on the 14th fret

On the D string we have D on the 12th fret

On the G string we have G on the 12th fret

On the B string we have B on the 12th fret

 

Super easy!

 

There is four G major 7th chords, across the neck of the guitar, that we built ourselves. And they all have a distinct sound because of the way the four notes are arranged.

 

Let’s try this game with the G minor 7th chord.

 

 

G minor seventh voicings

 

 

The G minor 7th chord uses a b3 and a b7. So if we start off with our notes from the Major 7th chord and do some small adjustments, we can have a minor 7th chord in no time.

 

The G stays the same

The B is lowered one fret to Bb

The D stays the same

The F# is lowered one fret to F

 

That gives us G, B, D , and F as the notes to the G minor 7th chord.

 

Lets plug these notes into our game.

 

Building from the root

The G on the low E string is on the 3rd fret.

On the D string we have F on the 3rd fret

On the G strin we have Bb on the 3rd fret

On the B string we have D on the 3rd fret

 

How cool, all at the third fret. Super easy voicing of the G minor 7th chord

 

Building from the b3

 

The Bb on the low E string is on the 6th fret

On the D string we have G at the 5th fret

On the G string we have D on the 7th fret

On the B string we have F on the 6th fret

 

Building from the 5th

 

The D on the low E string is on the 10th fret

On the D string we have Bb on the 8th fret

On the G string we have F on the 10th fret

On the B string we have G on the 8th fret

 

Building from the b7

 

The F on the low E string is on the 13th fret

On the D string we have D on the 12th fret

On the G string we have G on the 12th fret

On the B string we have Bb on the 11th fret

 

Let’s try this game one last time for the G7 chord!

 

 

G Dominant 7th voicings

 

 

For g7 we have a g b d and lower that f# to an f

 

Building from the root.

 

The G on the low E string is on the 3rd fret

On the D string we have F on the 3rd fret

On the G string we have B on the 4th fret

On the B string we have D on the 3rd fret

 

Building from the 3rd

 

The B on the low E string is on the 7th fret

On the D string we have G at the 5th fret

On the G string we have D on the 7th fret

On the B string we have F on the 6th fret

 

Building from the 5th

 

The D on the low E string is on the 10th fret

On the D string we have B on the 9th fret

On the G string we have F on the 10th fret

On the B string we have G on the 8th fret

 

Building from the b7

 

The F on the low E string is on the 13th fret

On the D string we have D on the 12th fret

On the G string we have G on the 12th fret

On the B string we have B on the 12th fret

 

If you are listening in the car or at the gym, i’m just interested in you understanding the process. Which is: Knowing the notes you need in the chord and having an easy way to find them, wherever your hand is on the neck of the guitar.

 

At first it’s going to be a lot of thinking. But keep trying, It gets a lot easier over time and the benefits of being able to have several different ways to play the same chord are incredible.

 

 

Take it to the next level 

 

 

“Well, where to I go from here?” This is great but what if I needed some chord that had a different quality. What if I needed a 7th chord with a very high sound. Well we can take this process and use different sets of strings.

 

Try playing our game on the top four strings. In fact, once you understand what we did here today, is super easy to just move the note that was on the low E string to the high E string in all of the voicings. Instant new chords using the top four strings.

 

But, you could also try the bottom four strings, the middle four strings, or something like we did today, but starting on the A string instead.

 

You can also try to get different chords from our game by altering the notes (like raising or lowering the 5th to get different chords). Or leaving out the root or fifth note altogether to leave room for some extensions (like the 9th).

 

Conclusion

 

 

This has been a lot of fun for me to put together for you today. This is one of those things were you can take a small bit of the music theory we have learned and turn it into big practical results that will affect your playing and give you value for years to come.

 

Even if the style of music you play doesn’t use these exact chords, the idea that if you know what notes you need and have a way to arrange them quickly without distraction all over the guitar, you can get great sounding chords is extremely valuable!


Challenge

 

I usually end with a question, but today, I’m going to leave you with a challenge! Try to spend the time with one of theses chords. Just write down the notes and choose your string set. See if you can find four different voicings for your chord.

Let us know how you did in the show notes below.

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