The E7 guitar chord is more than likely the first 7th chord that many of you have learned. It’s used in many places in music, but this chord and 7th chords, in general, were quite mysterious to me when I first started playing. Why is that? Why do we need to learn this shape?
Since standard tuning on the guitar is tuned to E, and most of the guitar repertoire comes from the blues and jazz music, this e7 guitar chord can claim to be the building block of lots of music you know. Add to the fact that a 7th chord often functions as the V chord in many songs you know, then that should be enough reason to learn this chord!
In this article, we’ll talk about the most crucial E7 guitar chord shapes, where it appears in some songs and riffs you already know, as well as how to use them in some tasty country-style guitar soloing……..
Here Are The Most Used E7 Guitar Chord Shapes
Take a look at the chart below to see the shapes of the E7 guitar chord:
If you read our article on the B7 guitar chord, you should recognize these shapes. The great thing about the guitar is that you can often just move a shape to another root note, and get the exact same chord. It saves tons of time and thinking, but it can also be limiting in some ways.
One song that uses the first shape, in the key of F major, is the classic spiritual “Amazing Grace.” The chords below only cover the first few bars of the song. The F turns into an F7 chord before changing to the Bb chord.
The next song uses the key of F major, as well, but many players use a capo at Fret 1. The chords for Folsom Prison Blues use these shapes too, as you can see below. The entire chord progression goes (E7 A7 E7 B7 A7 E7):
So how about a song that explicitly uses the E7 chord and notes? Roy Orbison’s classic song “Pretty Woman” has a riff built entirely off of E7 and the progression uses it as the V7: (A F#m A F#m D E7)
A few riffs that also use the notes of E7, as well as some fragments of the chord include The Beatle’s “Helter Skelter” Chorus as well as the main riff of Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love.” However, it’s worth noting that the “Sunshine Of Your Love” riff is in D minor, not E.
The Theory Behind The E7 Guitar Chord
As you’ve just seen, this chord shape and the E7 guitar chord is used very often throughout many genres of music. This is because it naturally occurs in one of the most used key signatures in guitar music, that of A major. Let’s break down the notes and the chords we get from this key:
A major scale: A – B – C# – D – E – F# – G#
A chord: A – C# – E
D chord (IV chord) : D – F# – A
E7 chord (V7 chord): E – G# – B – D
The I, IV, and V chords are the most basic building blocks of thousands of songs out there. This is because of the strong musical bond between these chords and the notes between them. The major key is one of the fundamental aspects of western music, and that’s mostly because it creates the 3 major chords and 3 minor chords that are so pleasing to our ears.
The 7th chord on V will appear in every major key signature. No matter whether you’re in A major, C major, or Bb major there will be a dominant 7th chord at the V.
This theory “rule” is not set in stone. You can use a dominant 7th chord anywhere you, please. Blues and country songs will often use a 7th chord at the I, IV, and V. In the Beatles repertoire, 7th chords appear all over the place other than at these places in a major or minor key.
Understanding these principles of music theory not only gives you lots of insight into how lots of songs are constructed but also how blues and country lead guitarists construct their solos and licks…….
A Brief Look At Soloing With The E7 Guitar Chord
One of the best country lead guitarists out there is famed country session player Brent Mason. Levi Clay is a Youtuber who has taken a lot of time to make many of his solos available, and I just so happened to find one that’s perfect for this lesson. Take a quick watch of the solo to Ricky Lynn Gregg’s song “Can You Feel It:”
If you’re new to the E7 guitar chord and country soloing, you may not recognize the scale patterns and chord shapes that are being used. However, all it takes is a quick second to look at the notes of the E7 guitar chord across the neck:
Try to find the chord shapes & tones being used through this solo. Look at the XXX454 shape, the X79997 shape, as well as the 12th frets for clues on how to solo using these chord tones.
This may be a more advanced subject, but the concept I’m outlining is relatively simple. That is, the four notes of the E7 chord are the basis for many of the licks you’ll see throughout that solo. If you watch the rest of the video, you’ll be able to see other instances of this as well.
Before you start turning up the country twang on your amp, just get a feel for strumming the songs we’ve been talking about before. Remember that you can always use the Uberchord app to correct your fingering and refresh your memory when you can’t recall the E7 guitar chord shapes. We hope you’ve enjoyed this lesson on this important guitar chord shape!