How To Play & Use The G7 Chord On Guitar
Author: Matthew King
When I first started playing guitar (no that’s not me in the image above), I didn’t see the use in learning a G7 chord because I already knew the G chord and used it a lot more. That minor 7th interval gave the chord a sound that I didn’t normally hear in Metallica or Nirvana, which were the bands that got me into playing. This chord brought to mind twangy country guitars and ancient sounds used by the great delta blues artists.
Turns out that I was just not learning the right songs though as this chord is used in many places. Later in this article, you’re going to see how pop artists, punk rock artists, and my personal favorite grunge band all rocked this chord shape. We’re also going to talk about how to use this chord like those blues and jazz guys did, while also talking about the theory behind this great 7th chord.
C’mon partners and let’s boogie down….
The Most Common Shapes Of The G7 Guitar Chord And Its Theory
The basic form of G7 will be the first shape you see above. However in lots of blues songs you may see XX5767, X-10-9-10-8-X, or X-X-12-12-12-13. These are all common shapes of the dominant 7th chord used all over the neck. You may be wondering how on earth we get these though.
It’s actually pretty easy! You just take any major chord you may know, and you add the note a whole step (2 frets) below the root note (G). That note will be the note F. So you just add an F note wherever you can imagine, or just use the common chord shapes we just mentioned.
The theory behind the G7 chord goes like this. It’s made up of 4 notes: G – B – D – F. G is the root, B is the major 3rd, D is the perfect 5th, and F is the minor 7th. The minor 7th and the major 3rd must be together to make a dominant 7th, otherwise you may make a different chord like Gm7.
There are many many more fun things I can tell you about the G7 chord, but I think it’ll be better for you now to acquaint yourself with some songs that use this delicious chord….
By the way, if you’re still kind of new to 7th chords, then this article will be a great introduction.
Popular Songs That Feature The G7 Shapes
One of the best riffs ever that makes use of the G7 shape at the 3rd fret is “Paperback Writer” by the Beatles. It has a great rhythm that subtly throws in the minor 7th interval (fret 3 on the D string) to bring out some blues-rock flavor.
If you think that’s too safe or classic rock sounding, then check out the riff from the song “Superunknown” from Soundgarden’s album of the same name. It’s a heavier and even darker riff that also makes use of the same intervals necessary to bring out the sound of the G7 guitar chord.
“Ain’t No Sunshine” is one of the most well-known songs to use this chord. It functions as a passing chord back to Am in the progression of Am7 – Em7 – G7. In the key of A minor or C major, this chord will be used a ton! That’s because the G7 fits naturally within the key of the song.
However G7 is still used in more modern pop songs as with “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga. The chord progression in the verse is very similar to the previous song: Am – F – Am – G. Not strictly G7, but it’s in the key of Am/C so that G7 is at least implied here.
“All The Small Things” is a classic pop-punk song that utilizes the same sound but in a different way. It’s all powerchords, BUT one of those powerchords uses the minor 7th interval to G, which is the note F!
The G7 Guitar Chord’s Usage In Blues & Country
Although the G7 chord can be used in many ways if you’re creative enough, it’s main use is often in Blues & Country progressions due to its sound. This is all because, in the key C major, G7 is the V chord. In both of these genres, the use of some combination of I-IV-V is a classic trait of their sound.
In case you don’t know, the V chord is formed by forming a chord on the 5th note of the scale you’re playing in. In C major, the 5th note is G, and the G7 notes are all in C major. The IV is F because F is the fourth note of C major. Got that? Let’s move on!
To play this chord in these genres, there are a few shapes you need to know, which we’ll list below. It takes a little bit of experience to know which one to use in certain situations, but if you use trial and error you can figure it out by ear.
G7 at the 3rd fret: 353433
G7 at the 5th fret: XX5767
G7 at the 10th fret: X-10-9-10-8-X
Alternate G7 at the 10th fret: X-10-12-10-12-10
A few more songs that use these chords from these two genres include “Hey Good Lookin” by Hank Williams, “Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Ain’t Going Down Till The Sun Comes Up” by Garth Brooks, and “Texas Flood” by Stevie Ray Vaughan. You can look at some of the most common blues & jazz progressions at our great article linked here…..
The Mixolydian Mode Secret Is…….
We’re going to end this article with a quick little secret about soloing over this chord. We’ve been talking about how G7 is the V chord of C major, right? Well we waited to explain why up until now to show you how the Mixolydian mode/scale works with G7.
So take the key of C major: C – D – E – F – G – A – B. Go to the 5th note, G. Then start playing the same set of notes starting on G: G – A – B – C – D – E – F. Do you remember what the notes of G7 are? We’ll remind you now…..
G7 = G – B – D – F
The main three chords that are often used together though are these:
Now you know another scale to play over G7 besides G minor pentatonic! You’ve also got the other chord shapes to help you find chord tones for them too. All of this information comes from simply knowing the ins and outs of the G7 chord, and you’ve got plenty of songs to go learn to use this scale with. Have fun, and use the uberchord app to start applying and using this chord shape in your practice!
Want more info on how to play 7th chords? Then check out this article here on Uberchord.
Rick Beato has a great video explaining even more about the Mixolydian mode:
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