Wanna know an interesting story about the B7 guitar chord? Apparently, Paul McCartney rode on a bus in Liverpool to go visit a guy who knew this chord. This guy, one of the most successful songwriters of all time, spent an entire day going to visit a dude to show him just this chord! Thankfully you’ve got this article on the B7 guitar chord, as well as free access to the Uberchord app.
The shape of the B7 guitar chord is one that will be pretty new to you if you’re just getting the hang of the basic chords like G – C – D, which we talked about a lot in our article on the D7 guitar chord. This shape in open position is challenging because you’re using your pinky to play the F# on the high E string. You can also find the notes in the B7 guitar chord by taking a close look at the key of E major. Take a look at our chart below to check it out…..
Some shapes you may already know, and others you may be all double u tee eff (I’m saying something else). It’s all good though as we’re about to go over several examples of the B7 guitar chord shape’s use in some songs you already know……
Some Popular Songs That Use The B7 Guitar Chord Shape
If you’re a big fan of AC/DC then you may have taken a listen to their older albums like the legendary “Let There Be Rock.” This album is chock full of great riffs that really highlights the band at their very best IMO so check it out if you never have before. There is one song on this album that uses the B7 guitar chord shape specifically, and that’s the song “Overdose.”
AC/DC’s overdose riff (B7 to E):
This riff is a perfect intro to the B7 guitar chord, as well as the next one. More than likely you’ve been bludgeoned to death by this song already in your life, but it’s a great song to practice this chord as well as your basic blues progression. This song is “Heartbreak Hotel” by Elvis Presley:
Heartbreak Hotel (E A7 B7)
There are more ways to play the B7 guitar chord than just X21202. You can play it using the shape X24242 as well, which is easier if you’re familiar with playing barre chords. This shape in particular figures prominently in another classic song, although it doesn’t use B7 explicitly but C7 (a half step away):
Hey Jude (F C C7 F Bb F)
Again, although it’s not using the B7 chord specifically, it is using the same shape. What helps a lot of beginner-intermediate players is to have plenty of shapes to use whenever you’re learning a new song. That way, if you see a song call for an E7 or Bb7, you can go to the appropriate position on the neck and play that shape. It’s a huge help whenever you’re playing or soloing over blues progression like this one here:
Sweet Home Chicago ( E7 A7 E7 B7 A7 E7)
This Robert Johnson song has been covered by many many people, but the progression and structure never changes! When you’ve memorized and ingrained the B7 guitar chord shape in your mind, you’ll be able to play lots of blues songs. That’s the magic of learning shapes like this one! Many other songs that use the b7 guitar chord shape can be found here.
The B7 Guitar Chord In The Key Of E Major
Message In A Bottle (C#sus2 Asus2 Bsus2 F#sus2) key of E major
Let’s cut the suspense. This enormously popular riff by the Police doesn’t use the B7 chord explicitly. It’s obviously several sus2 shapes put together. However these shapes were not put together randomly. They go together so well because of the composition of the key of E chords guitar. To figure out why, we must take a look at what B7 means on the guitar and where the notes come from.
Let’s break down a few chords, as well as the scale of E major:
E Major Scale = E – F# – G# – A – B – C# – D# (4 sharps)
C#m = C# – E – G#
A = A – C# – E
B7 = B – D# – F# – A
F#m = F# – A – C#
It’ll take a longer time to explain why all these notes make up this scale and these chords. Just go with it for a moment!
All of these chords use notes from the scale of E major. Compare them for a moment to see. So, if you didn’t feel like using the sus2 shape to play this song, you could just use the B7, for instance, instead of Bsus2.
This is the amazing thing about guitar music theory. It’s not supposed to hinder you and make sure you’re following all of these made up rules. It’s to allow you to see connections between notes so you can understand why they go together, and how you can reimagine these connections!
To briefly explain the sus2 interval though, there’s just one thing you need to understand. A “sus2” interval calls for you to use the major 2nd interval somewhere on the chord. A major 2nd interval is just the note that’s a whole step above the root. So in the case of Bsus2, that’s the note C#. Over C#sus2, the major 2nd (sus2) interval will be D#, and so on and so forth.
This Shape’s Use In Country & Blues Soloing
As you’ve seen from the songs we’ve talked about already, the 7th chord is used quite a lot. So I want to tell you a few secrets to using this chord shape if you’re into country or blues lead guitar, and maybe have already learned some tips on guitar fingerpicking for beginners. Many times, since these progressions are in a major key context, you’ll need to highlight the minor 7th interval to make the sound of these chords.
So you have a few options. First, you can use the mixolydian scale as a jumping off point, as it uses a minor 7th interval. Second, you can use the B7 shape together with this scale to create licks. To understand this a little further, look at this screenshot of the B7 arpeggio together with the B7 Mixolydian scale.
So, just by seeing these concepts put together, you should have plenty of new ways to use this shape and this scale to solo over it. However, remember what we said in the previous section about theory. It’s not a set rule that you must use the mixolydian mode/scale for every 7th chord you see. You can basically use any scale that uses the notes of B7!
Okay so that’s a lot of theory, and I hope some of you beginners could follow my discussion of the B7 guitar chord. There are lots of depths to something as simple as a chord shape, and we here at Uberchord love to share our insights with you! If you’d like more info about playing songs like the ones we’ve talked about here, memorizing more shapes easier, and finding more ways to solo and improvise over them……then we hope you’ll check out our Uberchord app! If you need more help on how to get good at guitar chords then check out that link.