Inversions with 7th Chords

Lesson
Materials

One of the ways you can make seventh, minor seventh and major seventh chords a bit easier to play is through inversions.

Now instead of going through all of the different inversions like we did with the major and minor chords, we’re just going to look at a few shapes.

Shape 1:

When you play a seventh chord in any other order besides the root position, you’ll have two notes played right beside each other.

One of the easiest ways to start playing this type of chord not in root position is by taking the top note and adding it to the bottom. This way you’ve got two notes stuck together at the bottom of the chord and then skip a note going up. So the shape is basically together – skip a note – skip a note.

Another way is the think of the major or minor chord you need to play and then just add the seventh to the bottom.

For example, let’s look at am7.

We can play this chord as A C E G. Or we can stick G and A together, skip a note to play C and then skip a note to play E. This is the Am chord with G at the bottom. Try it out.

Let’s do the same thing now with CM7. The notes of this chord are C E G B. Let’s take the B and put it at the bottom of the chord. Now play the chord. You may not like it as much and that’s one thing to take note of. C and B are right next to each other and it can sound like it’s clashing in some instances.

If we look again at Am7, there’s a black note between the G and A making those notes not quite as close and that may be more pleasing to the ear.

Let’s practice a few more of these. Next we’ll play Em7. Play E minor and then add the D at the bottom keeping one semi-tone in between them. Playing this way, it’s an easy to see if you’re playing a 7th or major 7th by seeing if your notes are directly beside each other or have one semi-tone separating them.

Let’s play C7 now. So play the C chord and add the seventh note, Bb at the bottom.


Shape 2

Alright, let’s do one more shape for this type of chord. We’ll have our stuck together notes in the middle and then place the others on each side.

For example, with Am7, play G and A with fingers 2 and 3. That’s your seventh and your root note. Now we skip a note on either side and add C at the top and E at the bottom. This can be another useful shape to play for seventh chords.

It is a bit more advanced and I actually would be surprised if you wanted to play your chords like this now as you’re still getting comfortable with seven chords themselves. But it’s worth teaching this to you now so that if you’re struggling to play a specific chord in a specific song, you can try it out another way and find a way that works well for you.

Okay, that being said, let’s go through a few more of these. We’ll do the same chords we did earlier.
We’ll start with em7. Put D and E together with fingers 2 and 3. Now play G and B on the ends.

CM7 next. We’ll put B and C together with fingers 2 and 3. Can you figure out which other notes to play? E and G.

Okay, now, can you turn that into C7? Give it a try. The difference between a major seventh chord and a seventh chord is the seventh note which you need to take down one semi-tone. So B becomes Bb.


Exercises

You can practice this a few different ways.

First, you can use the chord progressions in the last lesson to go through the different shapes. They are below.

Second, take any of the songs you’ve learned with any kind of seventh chords and try playing the seventh chord in a different shape. See if it makes playing that song a little easier.

Chord Progression #1:
GM7 CM7 GM7 CM7
Am7 D7 am7 D7

Cheat Sheet:
GM7 = G B D F#
CM7 = C E G B
Am7 = A C E G
D7 = D F# A C

Chord Progression #2:
AM7 bm7 C#m7 DM7
AM7 DM7 F#m7 E7 AM7

Cheat Sheet:
AM7 = A C# E G#
Bm7 = B D F# A
C#m7 = C# E G# B
DM7 = D F# A C#
F#m7 = F# A C# E
E7 = E G# B D

Chord Progression #3:
FM7 dm7 BbM7 C
FM7 gm7 C7 FM7

Cheat Sheet:
FM7 = F A C E
Dm7 = D F A C
BbM7 = Bb D F A
Gm7 = G Bb D F
C7 = C E G Bb