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Jazz Guitar Lessons: 7th Chord Voicings

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7th Chord Voicings Part 1.
Hello again.
We're back now to take arpeggios
out of the linear world and
put them in the all at once world.
Where you play all the notes
at the same time, as a chord.
So, we learned the structure of 7th
chords by looking at the arpeggios.
And then we altered the different
notes to create different versions of
the 7th chord.
So, you know, just to refresh, 1
creates a major 7th chord.
If I lower the 7th a half step,
it would make it a minor 7th.
1-3-5, flat 7, dominant 7.
1, flat the 3rd,
makes it a minor 7th chord.
Keep that 7th flatted.
And that's the minor 7th.
And then we had the flat 5,
which was the last one.
1, flat 3, flat 5, flat 7, and 1.
So those are the four
that we talked about.
And, now I would like to put them in
the form of an actual chord, and give you
a couple of nice little ways to use those
of course, in comping and playing chords.
But also in creating,
chord improvisations and chord solos and
chord melodies, which, is something
that I always love about jazz guitar.
So let's just get the basics.
The fist one we're going to do, I'm going
to do it right on A on the fifth fret.
On the, with the root on the sixth string.
Now as I show you these positions,
I'm gonna show you them in,
with the root on, on different strings.
In this position it's gonna only be on
the sixth string and the fifth string.
Now I'll get into that more later, but
I just want you to be aware of that.
So the first voicing is
takes the notes 1-3-5, and
7 and spreads them out in a different
way than just straight up.
If you were to put them just straight up,
of, one after another,
you would get this voicing
Now, if you wanted to do that with
the root on the sixth string.
Check out how it looks
It's very hard to play.
The, you know, the long stretch between
these two fingers and another one here.
So, not very practical on the guitar.
So what we do is we take the notes,
put them in a different order,
and it sounds very pretty and you get
them all and it's much easier to play.
The first voicing, is you, you play,
of course you play the root on the bottom,
the one is on the bottom.
And then the next note you
play is actually the 7th.
It's up there on the D string.
Remember, you sh-, you have a diagram
of these voicings, so you can look at
them and you can check and make sure
you're doing it the way I'm doing it.
All right?
So that's the 7th.
I'll just do just those two.
And I'm using for the 7th on,
in this case because of where
the other fingers need to go.
I'm using my third finger for that.
and then right be, right underneath that
I'm gonna put my pinky and that's gonna
be playing the third degree of the scale.
now that's the 3rd an octave above where
it occurs in the arpeggio.
It's in the 2nd octave, all right?
Let's take a look at that.
That, in itself, later on, I'll,
I'll teach you that you can just,
sometimes, just use that voicing,
without adding the fourth note.
It's very useful, and we'll,
we'll get to that later.
But for now, let's get the whole,
you know, the whole kit and caboodle.
So, the last one is the fifth, and that's
on the same fifth fret that's why I use my
third finger so that I can sneak my second
finger back there and get the fifth.
Okay, so,
1 with the first finger on sixth string.
The 7th with the third
finger on the D string.
My pinky grabs the 3rd, and that's on,
also on the sixth fret on the G string.
And then,
underneath everything there is the 5th.
With my second finger on the B string.
And here it is.
A major 7.
And when you're practicing
this sometimes you
might wanna just take it,
take it and move around
the neck a little bit see how it feels
Try it in different areas.
kinda gets a little squeezy up there and
I'll, I'll tell you what
we can do about that later.
So there we are again.
A major 7.
Now, as I'm moving that around.
You might notice that I'm not
playing every string.
I'm not playing all six strings.
In fact,
I'm only playing four strings at a time.
And on the diagram, that you see, you'll
see where the dots where my fingers are,
and then you'll see an x
on the other two strings,
which means those are not being played.
So, how do you not play them?
In the case of what I'm doing right now,
I'm actually using four fingers to
play it, on my, on my right hand.
I do that quite a bit
So I'm playing finger style, but
let's say I wasn't playing finger style.
I can do the same thing with the pick or
with my thumb, and you still don't
hear those other two strings, and
I'm sure you're all already aware of this,
I'm doing it by muting
the strings that I don't.
Want to sound with the fingers
that I'm playing with.
It's kind of a double,
you know, they're doing,
they're double-tasking,
a couple of these fingers.
So, in the case of the A string, which
is not being used, my first finger is
lightly touching the A string, heavy
enough so that it doesn't make any noise.
Like, if I lifted, if I curve my finger.
And leave it open.
That will actually be heard.
Now that's an A, so
in this case it doesn't sound so bad but
let's say I was doing a B chord.
That wouldn't sound so
good if that rang out.
So I just lean back my finger just enough,
just like that.
I'm hitting two strings but
you don't hear the A string,
you only hear the six string.
I lean it back just enough to mute it.
Right, so here's with the pick.
You don't hear the other strings at all.
The high E string, which is not
in use in this particular chord,
is being basically damped by,
there's two ways you can do it.
You can damp it with I guess the,
the bottom part of your finger that's
playing the 5th, your second finger,
we playing both strings.
But in this case because I'm, I'm kinda
curving my hand all the way across,
this part of my,
my hand is touching the E string.
This, the palm.
Underneath where I'm putting my fingers.
So if your fingers if, if that works,
it's a really good way to
deaden that top string.
You can also, when you're picking,
when you're strumming
you can just stop your hand a little bit
before that note,
that's another technique.
And then of course it's not a problem
at all if you use your fingers.
Anyway just, a little technical aside that
will hold true for all of the voices that
we're talking about here and the damping
will be a little different with each one.
Just, you know,
use your own creativity to come up how you
want to, keep the other strings muted.
7th Chord Voicing Part 2.
Now let's make the alterations
to create the other four,
the other three chords that we're gonna
make in this sequence of major 7,
dominant 7, minor 7, and minor 7 flat 5.
And do it the same way that we did
in the arpeggios and the scales.
What we do is we find the note
that needs to be altered, and
simply move it down or up.
Well, in this case, always down
to create the cord that we need.
So dominant 7th in the arpeggio,
we took the major 7th and
moved it down a step, a half step,
and used a minor 7th and
that created the sound, the dominant 7th.
So, in the chord,
we're gonna do the same thing.
Now, as I mentioned,
the very next note after the root
is the 7th.
So, there it is, right here.
Now, if I try to move this
same finger down a fret.
Looks pretty wacky and
very difficult to play, right?
I'm moving this note down to this note.
So, obviously the thing to do is to switch
the order of the fingers
that are playing which note.
So I'm gonna take my first finger and
put it there.
Switch my third finger over to the fifth.
And keep the pinky on the third, right?
So here's the switcheroo
make sense?
Look at the diagram and you'll see,
you'll see where it is.
The fingers will be on there and
remember the Xs and
block off the notes we're not playing so.
Let's just move
that around a little bit
Okay, next is the minor 7th.
The minor 7th chord lowers the 7th and
the 3rd okay, this one's probably
one that you, you've seen a lot.
By the way, let me just go back to
that dominant 7th for a second.
If you put in doubles of some of
the notes, you double the 5th and
double the root you get just
a straight dominant 7 bar chord
So you might say well why
don't I just do that?
Well the reason is if you're gonna be
playing chord solos, you want the voicing
to be consistent between, between the,
the chords that you play.
If you go from a major 7 to a dominant 7.
Like just briefly I'll
give you an example.
If I go 1-6-2-5-1.
And I use the dominant chord on the 6.
It, it keeps it consistent.
So it has kind of a flow to it.
To your ear,
rather than going
That's a completely different sound.
Just wanted to point that out.
That's the dominant 7.
Now, now, let's go back to minor 7 so
we're going to lower the 3rd.
Now the pinky has been in
charge of the 3rd up until now.
But now we need to lower it.
We'll move it back like, if you just move
it back you'll see what the motion is.
But that's uncomfortable right?
So I do that with a bar.
I put my third finger all the way across.
And I switch the root instead of the first
finger I switch it to my second finger.
This is probably force of habit.
I've been doing it since I was a kid.
Playing the minor 7th like that.
If that's not comfortable for you to play,
you can actually use all four fingers.
Keep the first finger on the sixth string
and just go straight down.
First, second, on the 7th,
third finger on the 3rd, and
the pinky on the, on the 5th up top.
That's fine, pe, some people do that.
It's not the easiest thing to move
around the neck.
So, I,
I would suggest you to try to use this.
There's another reason that,
that you might wanna use this voicing.
You have a pinky free, and you have
the first finger free, and sometimes,
when we get into doing
jazz chord solos later.
You'll use that pinky.
To grab the 9th up there.
And you might use the first
finger to have a moving bassline.
Just something to think about.
If you can try to get used to using
this version of it, that I use,
it might come in handy later
I kinda recommend that.
So let's move that up and
down the neck a little bit.
And be, be aware of muting
the strings you're not gonna want.
The A and the E, E.
It's a pretty chord so
that's the minor 7th.
And let's get to that last one,
the minor 7th flat 5, in this position.
Flat 5.
You gotta take the 5th, and
you gotta lower it one note.
Okay, so this is where we are.
Let's use the all four finger method.
So you got 1-7-3.
And five on top.
So the five is the one that hs to go down.
Well there's no way to get one of
those fingers down another fret.
So you've got to reconfigure it.
So let's put the second
finger on the root.
Third finger 7th.
Pinky on the 3rd.
And then you have the first finger
back there to play the flatted 5th.
Remember, the 5th was here for
all the other chords and
we're moving it one step down,
one half step down.
And there's really only
one fingering for that.
That's really the only way
you would wanna do it.
And I'll, I'll remember to mute strings
and I'm gonna move it around a little bit.
A little bit of a dark and
ominous sounding chord, but,
but, it's a very useful one,
and very, very pretty at times.
So that's the minor 7 flat 5.
And that is our 1-7-3-5 position
with the root on the sixth string.
However, we can do the same exact voicing
with the root on the fifth string.
And it's gonna be very important and
very interesting to have.
So let's get into that now.
7th Chord Voicings Part 3.
So, now,
let's take a look at the same voicing,
the 1-7-3-5 voicing with
the root on the 5th string.
This is gonna come in very handy.
It's gonna be useful almost immediately,
so let's look at it now.
The arpeggios on that string.
I have the 1-3-5-7-1.
And then in this position
there's just a shift up, right?
Let's do it in this position here
starting with the second finger.
So you see 1-3-5-7.
While all the notes you need
are going to be in that arpeggio.
So, the voicing is 1-7-3-5, so 1, and
then you go all the way up to the 7th.
So, I'm starting with my first
finger on the fifth string and
then again like on the other string,
I'm going to the third finger,
not the second finger not that one.
I'm, I'm reserving that for the 5th.
And then the third is with the pinky.
Again, just like the other one.
But, now it's up one step, because of that
beautiful 3rd interval between the G and
the B string, all right.
By the way whoever the genius
was back 500 years ago that
put that interval on the guitar,
thank you, if you're still listening.
And the the top note is the 5th and
that's on the E string, and then that's
what I reserved my second finger for.
So, there it is.
Major 7th.
Looks a little funny, right?
It's a little house or
crab like looking thing.
But we have all the notes we need,
I'm muting the D string with
the back of my finger, and I'm muting the
low A string with the tip of my finger.
So, my first finger is
really doing triple duty.
Playing the note,
muting a couple of the other ones.
let's move that around a little bit.
It's one, three, I'll start, 1-3-7-5.
Okay, here we go.
It's got kind of
a delicate sound,
'cause it's up on the next set of strings.
Okay, now we need to make
it a dominant 7th chord.
This is probably,
let's say the wackiest, and
maybe least useful of these voicings
with the root on the fifth string.
I have to say, because basically,
it's this chord.
You know, this bar chord here.
If you make it a dominant 7th.
Basically it's that chord, but we wanna
leave out, we don't wanna double the 5th.
And the reason for that again,
it's for consistency.
And you're gonna see why
in just a few minutes.
I'm gonna illustrate that pretty clearly.
So, let's for now let's just do
it the way I am prescribing.
So we're gonna take the 7th and
move down a half step.
Just to, jut like we did in the arpeggio.
So, that means I have to
reconfigure my finger.
So I switched the, the second and
third fingers in position.
So now, the 7th is being
played by the second finger.
And the 5th is being played
by the third finger.
And we're getting a little bit
of a stretch for the pinky.
That's it right there.
And again, I'm muting these
two strings with this guy.
okay, 1-7-3-5.
And let's move that around.
You can see how it looks.
A little
whammy bar.
Okay, so that's the dominant 7.
And very easy the last one,
because all you do is take your pinky,
which has been hung out to dry up there,
that big stretch.
And push it back a notch.
One fret back.
And there you have it.
You have the 1-7-3-5.
Let's do that again.
Here's the dominant with the 3rd up
there so you [SOUND] 1 flat 7-3-5 and
then I'm gonna take the three,
move it back to a minor 3rd.
And there you have
the minor 7th chord.
And here we move it around a little.
You can
do some more of
that yourself.
You might come up with
a nice little progression.
You might even write a song off of it.
And lastly,
we have the minor 7 flat 5, okay?
So that one, we have to take this one and
move it down a fret.
And we have the same
problem that we had before.
There's no way to get any finger
back there if we keep the,
the configuration that we have.
So we need to switch, as you can see,
we need to switch everything
around except for the pinky.
All right, so what we're going to
do is take, take the second finger,
put it on the, on the fifth string for
the 1, for the root.
The third finger is going to take over
the 7th.
Pinky stays on the 3rd.
And then the, the now available first
finger is going to pick up the flat 5.
So here's where the 5 was.
And now it's one fret back.
One step back.
And there's your chord, okay?
1, flat 7, flat 3, flat 5.
Everything's flat except for the one.
That's your minor 7th flat 5.
And then we'll move that
around a little bit for you.
So that is the 1-7-3-5,
7th chord position both
with the root on the fifth and
the sixth string.
It's gonna come in very handy.
We're gonna put it to use real soon.
So just go through it and
play it in different places.
Get comfortable with it.
Remember to look at the diagrams, if you
have ever any doubts about the fingerings.
And and then we'll come back to it and,
and, and find good use for it soon in
the jazz, in the real jazz guitar world.
7th Chord
Voicings Part 4.
Okay, now let's look at the other
major voicing for the 7th chords.
This one, I'm gonna start,
actually not with the lowest position,
with the, the root on the six string.
I'm gonna start with the one
on the fifth string,
'cause that's the one most people know.
And then I'll explain how I,
I use it on different strings.
It actually,
this particular voicing can be played on,
with the root on either the sixth,
fifth, or the fourth string and
it comes in very handy and
we'll see why in a moment.
So let's start with the major 7th in D,
'cause I want to stay right in the.
Easy to see fifth fret area.
So the root
is this D here on the fifth string on,
on the fifth fret.
And then the voicing that we're
gonna be doing is 1-5-7-3.
So it's, it's a,
just a switcheroo on the other one.
So the arpeggio,
let's do it with the second finger, right?
So you have 1, there's the 3 there.
5, okay.
Now the voice hand as I said is 1-5-3-7 so
there's the 5.
I wanna use that one, so
I'm gonna go right to the to the fifth.
Right away.
And I'm using my third finger, so
I'm really staying in position.
It should, this is the position.
That's exactly the finger that would
be assigned to that note, okay.
So first finger on the fifth string, root,
third finger on the fifth,
on the D string and than we have the 7th.
1-5-7-3, right?
So, the 7th will be
with the second finger.
Falls right in line with the position
as well and than we need the third.
Now lets go
there's the third, okay?
Just grab it with the pinky.
It's pulled back position, but
it's a very comfortable spot for it to be.
And in fact sometimes later as we're doing
chord solos,
you can slide that pinky back for
the, little melody.
it's a pretty voicing, and very compact.
All in the center of the guitar.
So, no low string and no high string.
And, remember to mute, I mute the,
the strings with the X's on them.
The tip of my first finger and
the fat part of my the,
the last knuckle of my first
finger to mute the high string.
So let's move that up and
down the neck a little bit.
It's a very pretty chord.
Now, gotta do the alterations.
The dominant 7th.
Well, 1-5-7-3, is our voicing.
So the 7 is there.
Right in the middle.
And we need to move it back.
And you could do it like that.
That's very tricky, so what do we do?
We bar it.
And again,
I want to try to keep the purity instead
of just going
and having that fifth doubled,
which you can do many times, but for now
for the purity of the four note voicing.
Just kind of lift up your first finger.
A little so that it's muting the top
string instead of pressing it down.
So just touch it.
And so 1-5-7-3, and
let's move it around a little.
Kind of
Minor 7th.
Gonna take the third,
remember, it's 1-5-7-3.
I'm gonna take that pinky.
And move it back a fret,
can't do it like that.
So, just use your second finger,
which is available.
It's not being used in the other chord.
And same thing.
So I'm still barring, barring it here.
You could do it like this and
some people do,
which kinda helps with the muting.
Because then,
with this I have to do the same thing,
kinda lift up my finger if I'm barring
that, if I'm barring that note here.
I'll leave that up to you
how you wanna handle it.
You can also do it like this
So there's, there's several
different ways to, to voice it.
Try to find the one that's
most comfortable for you, and
the one that makes it easier to switch
from one voicing to the other because you
may want to do that.
And let's, let's take that one and
move it around too, and see how it sounds.
Last one is in minor 7th flat 5.
And as we know, 1-5-7-3.
So the five is the next
one up from the root.
A little power chord there.
But we need to take that and
move it down a fret, right?
So now we were barring, I am anyway,
barring the minor 7th chord.
And to move that down it's a little,
again a little awkward.
So I'm gonna switch it around.
Then I'm gonna make a four note chord,
a four-finger chord out of it.
So you can see what I did there.
So the pinkie goes up and grabs the 3rd.
I do actually,
just move the third finger
down to the flatted 5th.
I sneak the second finger into the
dominant, in the s, minor 7th position.
That's a little three
note version of it there.
And the pinky on top, it's very
compact little, nice little chord.
Again using the tip of
this to mute the top and
the fat part of my pinky to mute the,
the high E string.
So, 1, flat 5, flat 7, flat 3,
that's your voicing, let's move it around.
So that's the minor 7 flat 5.
And that is our 1-5-7-3,
7th chord position.
With the root on the fifth string.
7th Chord Voicings Part 5.
Okay, we are gonna get down, down and
funky, down in the low strings now.
That same voicing, the 1-5-7-3,
as I mentioned, in the introduction to it.
Actually can have the root on the sixth
string as well as the fourth string,
which we'll get into later.
It's a kinda deep sound down there,
but I like it.
Wes Montgomery used to use that.
I never really, got into it until I
heard him do it on a, on a song and
I thought,
wow where's he playing that voicing.
So he took this pretty standard voicing,
moved the root to the sixth string.
1-5-7-3 so
now I'm doing it in the key of A.
Okay, so
the root is with the first finger.
The pinky takes over the fifth
instead of on, in this version the,
the fifth was being played by
the third finger but in this case
because of the structure of the fourth
strings we don't have that third interval
between the, G and the B string so we need
to voice it a little bit differently.
So we need the pinky to do the fifth.
And then the 7th with the, third finger.
I'm sorry with the second finger,
I get confused numbers throw me.
And then the third finger
does the 3rd conveniently.
Okay, so it's a ni,
really nice rich sound, listen to that.
And if you play it down a lower,
pretty lush and rich, even way down here.
Very cool so.
1-5-7-3 let's move it around.
Nice, let's make it a dominant 7.
Let's take that 7th cho-,
7th note, 1-5-7-3 so
it's this note here that's being played by
my second finger and we're gonna move it
back a fret it's very simple this time
that's the only thing we have to do.
So listen to the difference in sound major
7, take the 7th and move it down a fret.
Viola dominant 7.
The next one we're gonna
do is the minor 7th.
Now this is again, for
consistency of voicing
might not be the most practical
way to play a minor 7th chord but,
you'll see that it will be
useful to know how to do it.
If you just take the 3rd, which is
being played by the third finger, and
move it back you get a little bit of
an awkward stretch between the, the pinky,
you can see that I'm, my fingers are
struggling to get into that position, so
I bar, I bar it like that.
All right, muting that becomes
really pretty difficult, muting the,
the strings that aren't in use, so
a lot of times with this voicing,
this particular voicing I
will just use my fingers or.
Stop my pick on that note, right?
So I'm not actually muting, I'm actually
like doing more of a controlled move.
Stop my pick.
Stop my thumb or use the fingers and
then you're guaranteed not to get it.
Okay, that's the minor 7th.
For the minor 7 flat 5 let
me move that around so
you can hear what that sounds like.
That's a cool thing, just try,
try that every once in a while
just slide it back and forth.
Gotta press down real hard to do that.
That's a cool sound, though.
All right, let's make it a minor 7 flat 5.
We're gonna take the fifth,
which has been,
Hanging in through this whole exercise so
far we're just gonna
move it down a half step.
Now this one,
you can actually do with four fingers, and
it's actually good because you can
mute the top strings that way.
You can use the fat part of your third
finger to mute the B string and the,
the fat, the lowest knuckle of your
first finger to mute the the high E.
So you can strum, strum across,
maybe, may be you can I can't.
There you go.
Anyway, so this voicing comes pretty much,
and you could also bar it,
if you want, do it the same way,
so that you can just.
if you're gonna bar the minor 7th you
can just bar the minor 7 flat 5 as well.
It makes it easier to go back, back and
forth, from one to the other, right?
So that sounds like this.
And that is the, 1-5-7-3,
7th chord voicings with
the root on the sixth string.
7th Chord Voicings Part 6.
Okay as I mentioned this position,
the 1-5-7-3 position.
Actually has the, you have the ability to
play the root on the fourth string as
well as the fifth and sixth string.
So it gives you a little more flexibility
later if you're gonna use them in
chord solos or in improvising,
and this is a really useful one.
The voicing is the same.
I'm gonna do it on the key, in the key of
G so I can stay right on that fifth fret,
right in the center of the guitar.
The let's, let's use this scale
position to see where we're at
The first position of G, right, so I'm,
I'm going to be starting on the D
string so let's do that scale, or
that arpeggio I should say
And I'm gonna extend it
up one note to the 3rd,
still in position
So what we need is 1-5-7 and 3.
Right across here
So basically all you need to do is
put the first finger on, on the G,
on the D string,
which is right on the fifth fret, right?
And then bar your finger across
That's it.
1-5-7-3, in the key of G.
Now, listen to it an octave lower
Same voicing an octave higher,
very different sound, and
very useful, both of them.
So, let's do the alterations.
First, let's,
let's move that one around,
it's a cool one
That's a G major 7, ending up far across.
The muting factor here,
I just lay this finger across
Deaden these two strings with
the finger that's not being used
If you use your pinkie,
even more stuff to mute,
you have two fingers
Okay, so now let's make the alterations.
We're gonna take the 7th.
So it's this one here
not gonna bar anymore because you gotta
get the note back, right?
So we're gonna take, that's second finger,
and, and grab that 7th there
That's the arpeggio
And use the pinky on top
And that you might recognize as, kinda,
like, the Red House
little voicing of a dominant 7th
chord up there.
And let's move
that one around
All right, dominant 7, and
not let's make it a minor 7
The third is on top 1-5-7-3.
So we're gonna take that pinky
and move it back here.
That looks really,
that looks really comfortable.
Ow, I got a cramp!
[LAUGH] So, what do we do?
We just take them and
switch them around again
Take the middle,
take the middle two fingers.
And move them down here.
So the 3rd is now being covered by the
third finger, second one moves to the 7th,
and the pinky takes over the 5th
Some people bar the top one
with different fingers, but I,
I like to use one finger for each note
And this, this is,
this is this down an octave.
It's very rich and
1-5, flat 7, flat 3
it's a nice chord
That's Light My Fire by Doors
Don't let, don't ever let me sing, okay?
Because it's gonna be
a real problem if I do.
That's minor 7.
Now let's make it a minor 7 flat 5,
it's very easy.
Here's the fifth pinky, same problem,
you're gonna get a cramp if you do it that
way, so just, I'd bar it straight across,
it looks like a little funky 9th chord.
without the root, right?
It's the same, same voicing,
I'm sure anyone who's done their R&B,
gigs knows that chord
Right, so
that is an actual minor 7 flat 5 and
you see here one
flat 5
flat 7
And the 3rd.
Let's just
slide that up and
down a little
And there you have it.
Those are all the 7th chord voicings in
the 1-5-7-3 position on the sixth string,
fifth string, and fourth string.
And it, they're gonna come in very handy,
and we'll see that right away.