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An organized approach to learning 7th chords

Use this as a resource guide to learning chords on guitar. Of course this will not be all the chords there are. There are many different ways to create chords on guitar.
Start with an organized approach to learning block chords. Block chords make up a large percent of the chords you will need to use for Jazz and other idioms

First define what 'block' chords are. Starting with the closest possible voicings for seventh chords in four inversions of a C Major 7th chord. These are commonly known as block chords in close or closed voicings. There is one version of each chord tone with no doublings.

Displayed below is C Major 7th and all of it's inversions. An inversion is the same notes of a chord in a different order. If you move the lowest note to the top you will always get the next inversion. They are normally identified by which note (root, 3rd, 5th, or 7th) is in the lowest voice, and are considered Root Position, 1st Inversion, 2nd inversion, 3rd inversion.

Four invertions of a close voiced 7th chord
Four inversions of a close voiced 7th chord.

On guitar it is more difficult to play these close voicings although many players use them. Generally the close voicing is opened up by either dropping the second voice from the top one octave or dropping the 3rd voice from the top.
Dropping the second voice is usually called a drop 2 voicing displayed below.

Example of drop 2 voicings
Drop 2 voicing. Second voice from the top has been lowered one octave

The next step is to work out all the drop 2 voicings on three different sets of strings. The sets of strings I am referring to are 6 5 4 3, 5 4 3 2, and 4 3 2 1.
For a complete list of all possible string sets see Pat Martino's Website In the 'Nature of Guitar page 7' section Mr. Martino explains there are 64 possible combinations of 6 strings.

This link will show you the Drop 2 voicings for Major 7th, 7th, Minor 7th, and Minor 7b5 for each inversion on each set of strings.

Next Drop 3 voicings. These produce a more open voicing and a bigger sound. Return to the first close voicing example above. Drop the 3rd voice from the top for each inversion to produce drop 3 voicings. Then follow the next link for a complete list of all the drop 3 voicings on 6 4 3 2 and 5 3 2 1 string sets. Major 7th, 7th, Minor 7th, and Minor 7b5 for each inversion.

Drop 3 Voicings

Page Last Updated: December 21, 2014 | Email: cgrey0224@comcast.net

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