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Today we’re going to learn how to play Maj7 chords and how to build them from scratch.
The Major 7th chord is a mesmerising chord which is commonly found in jazz music, but also in pop music and world music it is regularly used to express a beautiful hypnotizing or dream-like sound.
We’re going to look at open Major 7th chords (open strings involved), moveable Maj7 chords (containing no open strings) with the root note located on different strings, starting at the Low E (6th string), A-string (5th string) and the D-string (4th string), and Maj7 bar / barre chords.
First things first, let’s take a look how to build a major 7 chord.
CHORD CONSTRUCTION / ANALYSIS
Major chords consist of the root, 3rd and 5th notes of the major scale (1 3 5). The major 7th chord (Maj7) consists of the root (1), 3rd, 5th and 7th notes of the major scale (1 3 5 7). That means the 7th note of the major scale is added to the major chord.
For example, if you take the notes of the C major scale = C D E F G A B C
The Cmaj7 chord consists of the notes: C E G B (1 3 5 7)
If you take the D major scale = D E F# G A B C# D
The Dmaj7 chord consists of the notes: D F# A C# (1 3 5 7)
This way you can build or analyze any Maj7 chord:
Note: In the chord diagrams above: the black dots above the nut are open strings, and the letters in the dots indicate the note names.
Here are some popular songs that use the major 7 chord:
Old friends by Paul Simon starting with Fmaj7 and Cmaj7, capo on 4th fret.
Something by The Beatles: Amaj7 chord (second chord of the verse)
Maybe tomorrow by Stereophonics: Ebmaj7 chord (first chord of the song) Under the bridge by the Red hot chili peppers: Emaj7 chord (at the end of each verse).
“OPEN” MAJ7 CHORDS
The chord diagrams below show the most common “open” Maj7 chords shapes. “Open” means there are open strings played in the chord.
The numbers on the dots in the chord diagrams below indicate the finger positioning: 1 = index finger, 2 = middle finger, 3 = ring finger, 4 = pinky
The “x” on top means that string is muted. The “o” means you play an open string.
MOVEABLE MAJ7 CHORD SHAPE (ROOT NOTE ON LOW-E / 6TH STR.)
The chord diagrams below show a moveable Maj7 chord shape. A moveable chord shape means you can move the entire chord shape up or down the neck to any key. The lowest note in the chord on the low E-string (6th string) is the root note and determines the name of the chord.
You can see it’s the same Maj7 chord each time, but it moves up the fretboard starting on the 1st fret, then the 3rd fret, 5th fret, 7th fret and so on. (see the green numbers next to the diagram). Of course, you can also move up to F#maj7 (2nd fret), G#maj7 (4th fret), Bbmaj7 (6th fret) and so on.
If you take a look at the third diagram on the left, it has the root note on the Low E-string, 5th fret, which is an “A” note, so the name of the chord is Amaj7. The root determines the name of the chord.
Notes: Make sure you mute the A-string and high e-string. Press the root note with your first finger while gently placing (without pressing) that entire finger across the strings to mute the A-string and high e-string.
MOVEABLE MAJ7 CHORD SHAPE (ROOT NOTE ON A-STRING)
The chord diagrams below are moveable Maj7 chord shapes with the root note on the A-string (5th string). This is the lowest note in the chord and determines the name of the chord.
MOVEABLE MAJ7 CHORD SHAPE (ROOT NOTE ON D-STRING) The chord diagrams below are moveable Maj7 chord shapes with the root note on the D-string (4th string). Again, the lowest note in the chord (the root note) determines the name of the chord.
Other Beautiful Maj7 chord shape variations. In the chord diagrams below you can see even more beautiful ‘moveable’ major7 chord shapes. You can move each chord shape up and down the neck and play them in any key you like. The two Maj7 chords on the right are Maj7 bar chords. Try all of them and hear for yourself which one you like best.
- Practice the open Maj7 chords and memorize them well.
- Practice and memorize the Maj7 moveable chord with the root on the 6th string in different keys.
- Practice and memorize the Maj7 moveabel chord with the root on the 5th string in different keys.
- Practice and memorize the Maj7 closed chord with the root on the 4th string in different keys.
- Practice an Fmaj7 with the root on the 6th, 5th and 4th string.
- Practice a Gmaj7 with the root on the 6th, 5th and 4th string.
- Practice every single chord name with the root on the 6th, 5th and 4th string using the cycle of fourths to go through all 12 keys.
- Incorporate the maj7 chords in your regular practice routine and use them in songs so they become second nature.
- Practice and memorize the other beautiful maj7 chord shapes and incorporate these into your playing as well.
Have a fabulous weekend!
If you have any questions or remarks, leave them in the comments. I’d appreciate it.