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12 Types Of Seventh Chords

The 12 types of seventh chords in this article can be built from the 4 triads in music, as well as sevenths built on the sus4 and Maj ♭5 chords. These 12 types of 7th chords are from the most commonly used scales in music.

I cover the intervals in each type of seventh chord, the scale modes that built each type and give song examples for some of the chords.

 

The 12 types of seventh chords

I have built chords from what I consider the most common scales, though some of the scales are only used by jazz players and composers.

The 4 triads all build sevenths with either a major or minor 7th, and of course, there is the fully diminished 7th. But I also consider the 7sus and 7♭5 chords.

If you are unfamiliar with the triads, intervals, or how to build chords from scales, then take a look at the following articles of mine:

The 4 Triads: Covers the intervals in the 4 triads, as well as the 3-note chords, sus2, sus4, and Maj ♭5.

Music Intervals: The most important music fundamental to learn in my opinion.

Chords From Scales: shows the intervals in every chord type covered on this website and the intervals in every mode of the scales I use.

Here are the scales that build the 12 types of seventh chords:

  1. Major Scale: builds a maj7, 7, m7, 7sus, and m7♭5
  2. Harmonic Minor: builds a maj7, 7, 7sus, m7, m-maj7, maj7#5, 7#5, maj7♭5, dim7, m7♭5, and m-maj7♭5
  3. Melodic Minor: builds a 7, 7sus, m7, m-maj7, maj7#5, 7#5, m7♭5, and 7♭5
  4. Whole Tone Scale: builds a 7♭5 and 7#5
  5. Augmented Scale: builds a maj7, maj7#5, and m-maj7
  6. Half-Whole Diminished: builds a 7, m7, and 7♭5
  7. Whole-Half Diminished: builds a dim7 and m-maj7♭5

Here are a few points to keep in mind:

  • The Whole-Half Diminished scale and the Half-Whole Diminished scale are the same scale – they are modes of each other.
  • For many scales and modes, you have the option of choosing a different 3rd and/or 5th and/or 7th. Good examples of that are the Lydian #2/#9 and the Super Locrian/Altered modes.
  • Also, I am not including the major 7 suspended as a valid type of seventh chord because it sounds horrible. However, I will cover it briefly in the suspended 7th chord section.

 

Major triad seventh chords

The major 7th and dominant 7th are two of the most common 7th chords that every musician uses. The maj7 chord is a sweet-sounding chord that is made for love songs or songs with beautiful melodies. The dominant 7th chord sounds a little raunchy and is the main chord used in blues tunes.

Major seventh

Chord intervals: 1-3-5-7
Chord example: Gmaj7 = G-B-D-F#
Alternate names: maj7, Ma7, M7 and an upward triangle (followed by 7)

Scales that build a maj7 chord:

  • 1st and 4th scale degrees of the major scale
  • 6th degree of the harmonic minor
  • 1st, 3td and 5th scale degrees of the augmented scale

Here are 4 of my favorite maj7 guitar chord voicings:

major seventh guitar chord E voice
major seventh guitar chord F voice
major seventh guitar chord A voice variation
major seventh chord G voice

Dominant seventh

Chord intervals: 1-3-5-♭7
Chord example: E7 = E-G#-B-D
Alternate names: usually just “7” but you may see dom7

Scales that build a 7 chord:

  • 5th scale degree major scale
  • 5th scale degree harmonic minor
  • 4th and 5th scale degrees of the melodic minor
  • 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th scale degrees of the Half-Whole diminished

It was hard to choose but here are my 4 favorite dominant 7th guitar chord shapes:

Dominant seventh chord E voicing
Dominant seventh chord E jazz voicing
seventh guitar chord A voice
seventh guitar chord C voice

 

Minor triad seventh chords

The minor 7th chord is the 3rd most commonly seen seventh chord along with the maj7 and 7 chords. However, the minor-major 7th is not as common.

Minor seventh

Chord intervals: 1-♭3-5-♭7
Chord example: Am7 = A-C-E-G
Equivalent chord: m7 = 6 on the ♭3, e.g. Am7 = C6
Alternate names: m7, mi7, min7, minor 7, -7

Scales that build a m7 chord:

  • 2nd, 3rd and 4th scale degrees major scale
  • 4th scale degree harmonic minor
  • 2nd scale degree melodic minor

Here are 4 of the most common minor 7 guitar chord voicings:

m7 guitar chord E voice
m7 guitar chord E jazz voicing
minor 7 guitar chord A voice
minor 7 guitar chord A voice variation

Minor major seventh

Chord intervals: 1-♭3-5-7
Chord example: Am-maj7 = A-C-E-G#
Alternate names: m-maj7, m-M7, mM7, m/M7, min-maj7

Scales that build a m-maj7 chord:

  • 1st and 6th scale degrees harmonic minor
  • Only the 1st scale degree melodic minor
  • 1st, 3rd and 5th scale degrees augmented scale

Not my favorite chord but these voicings sound okay:

minor major 7 jazz voicing E voice
minor major 7 A voice
minor major 7 E voice
minor major 7 A voice variation

 

Song examples that use a m-maj7 chord

Stevie Wonder: I Just Called to Say I Love You
Beach Boys: When I Grow Up
Beatles: Boys, Michele, Something, Real Love, Cry Baby Cry, Baby You Can Drive My Car
Pink Floyd: Us and Them
The Who: Quadrophenia

 

Suspended seventh chords

Before going into the types of seventh chords for the other two triad types, let’s cover the next most common 7th chord: 7 suspended.

Suspended seventh

Chord intervals: 1-4-5-♭7
Chord example: C7sus = C-F-G-B♭
Alternate names: 7sus4

Scales that build a 7sus chord:

  • 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th scales degree of the major scale
  • 5th scale degree harmonic minor
  • 2nd and 5th scale degrees of the melodic minor

4 suspended 7th guitar chord shapes:

7 suspended guitar chord E voice
7 suspended guitar chord A voice
7sus guitar chord C voice
7sus guitar chord D voice

 

Song examples that use a 7sus chord

Beatles: All You Need Is Love, Revolution, The Long and Winding Road, Hey Jude, Come Together
Grateful Dead: Sunrise, Shakedown Street, Birdsong, Black Peter, Jack Straw, France
Simon & Garfunkel: Bridge Over Troubled Water
Jerry Reed: The Claw
Stevie Ray Vaughan: Say What!
Doobie Brothers: Taking It to the Streets


Major 7 suspended

I’ll cover this chord as the 13th type of seventh chord, but trust me, it sounds horrible. Why would you want to add the tritone to the beautiful sounding maj7 chord?

The intervals are 1-4-5-7 and it can only be built on the 1st scale degree (tonic) of the major scale. Try replacing the major 3rd with the perfect 4th in the maj7 voicings above.

I’m a big fan of Rick Beato and his fantastic Youtube channel. His guitar and music theory videos are top-notch and he mentions this chord in some videos. He knows more than me and is a way better musician, but I do not like this chord at all.

 

Augmented triad seventh chords

If you play/write blues, rock, country, blugrass, reggae, etc. then the following 7th chords are not chords you will see often, if at all. I’ll give song examples where I can, but these seventh chords are more common to genres like jazz or classical music.

You can think of the major 7 sharp 5 and 7#5 as the augmented versions of the maj7 and dom 7 chords respectively. I like the 7#5 chord, but I’m just not a fan of the maj7#5 chord.

Major 7th sharp 5

Chord intervals: 1-3-#5-7
Chord example: Cmaj7#5 = C-E-G#-B
Alternate names: same as maj7 just with a “#5” or “+5” in the name

Scales that build a maj7#5 chord:

  • 3rd scale degree of both the harmonic minor and melodic minor scales
  • 1st, 3rd and 5th scale degrees of the augmented scale

Not one of my favorite 7th chords but these voicings sound good:

maj7#5 guitar chord A voice
maj7#5 guitar chord E/F voice
maj7#5 guitar chord A voice variation
maj7#5 guitar chord C voice

7 sharp 5 chord

Chord intervals: 1-3-#5-♭7
Chord example: G7#5 = G-B-D#-F
Alternate names: same as for the 7 chords but with “#5” or “+5” added

Scales that build a 7#5 chord:

  • 5th scale degree of the harmonic minor
  • 5th and 7th scale degrees of the melodic minor
  • each scale degree of the whole tone scale

I really like this chord as a substitute for a dom 7 chord:

augmented seventh chord E voice
augmented seventh chord E voice variation
7#5 guitar chord A voice
7#5 guitar chord C voice

 

Song examples that use a 7#5 chord

Sting: Mad About You
Grateful Dead: Till the Morning Comes
Stevie Wonder: If You Really Love Me, My Cherie Amour, Send One Your Love
Beach Boys: I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times, Orange Crate Art (also has a 9#5 chord)
Beatles: From Me To You
Allman Brothers: Stormy Monday (their version)
Silverman’s Folk Song Encyclopedia: Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair page 129 Vol I. And from Vol II: Jim Crow Blues page 21, I’m Certainly Living A Ragtime Life page 37, Bill Bailey page 73

 

Diminished triad seventh chords

The diminished seventh chords are rare in popular music genres, but you will see the dim7 and m,7♭5 chord from time to time. The m-maj7♭5 is never seen in popular genres, and I’m willing to bet, it’s rare in jazz as well.

Fully diminished 7th

Chord intervals: 1-♭3-♭5-♭♭7
Chord example: Bdim7 = B-D-F-A♭
Equivalent chord: dim7 = dim7 on each chord tone, e.g. Bdim7 = Ddim7 = Fdim7 = A♭dim7
Alternate symbol: o7

Scales that build a dim7 chord:

  • 2nd, 4th, 6th and 7th scale degrees of the harmonic minor scale
  • 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th scale degrees of the whole-half diminished scale

The white circles on the dim7 chords are root notes – any one of the notes can be the root of the chord.

fully diminished seventh chord
fully diminished seventh chord variation

 

Song examples that use a dim7 chord

Allman Brothers: In Memory of Elizabeth Reed, One Way Out (outro)
Beatles: I’m Happy Just to Dance With You, Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, Blackbird
Bob Dylan: Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat, When I Paint My Masterpiece
Grateful Dead: Dark Star, The Music Never Stopped, Ship of Fools, Tennessee Jed, Deal
Eric Clapton: Mainline Florida
Reverend Gary Davis: Make Believe Stunt
Garth Brooks: Friends in Low Places
Albert Lee: Bullish Boogie
Jerry Reed: The Claw
Silverman’s Folk Song Encyclopedia, Vol. II: 6 songs with a dim7 on pages 21, 27, 30, 43, 63 & 362.


Half diminished 7th

Chord intervals: 1-♭3-♭5-♭7
Chord example: Bm7♭5 = B-D-F-A
Equivalent chord: m7♭5 = m6 on ♭3, e.g. Bm7♭5 = Dm6
Alternate symbol: ø7

Scales that build a m7♭5 chord:

  • 7th scale degree major scale
  • 2nd and 4th scale degrees harmonic minor
  • 6th and 7th scale degrees melodic minor.

These guitar chord voicings are great chord substitutes for a dominant 7 or dominant 9 chord:

m7b5 guitar chord E voice
m7b5 guitar chord A voice
m7b5 guitar chord G voice
m7b5 guitar chord E voice variation

 

Song examples that use a m7♭5 chord

Beach Boys: Caroline No, Don’t Talk, God Only Knows, I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times, Let’s Go Away for a While
Grateful Dead: Cosmic Charlie, France, The Music Never Stopped, Terrapin Station
Bob Dylan: When I Paint My Masterpiece
Beatles: Penny Lane
Little Feat: Time Loves A Hero
Stevie Wonder: My Cherie Amour, You Are the Sunshine of My Life


Minor major 7 flat 5

Chord intervals: 1-♭3-♭5-7
Equivalent chord: *none
Chord example: Bm-maj7♭5 = B-D-F-A#
Alternate names: none that I’m aware of

Scales that build a m-maj7♭5 chord:

  • 6th scale degree of the harmonic minor
  • 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th scale degrees of the whole-half diminished scale

* Although it is a unique chord, it does kind of equal 2 other chords: 7#9 no root on the ♭6, and 13♭9 no root & no 5th on the 9. For example, Bm-maj7♭5 = G7#9 no root = C#13♭9 no root / no 5th.

There are only 2 closed voicings for this seventh chord. Do you see the bottom half of a 7#9 chord for the second chord?

m-maj7b5 guitar chord E/F voicing
m-maj7b5 guitar chord D voicing

 

Major ♭5 seventh chords

Finally, the end and only two more types of seventh chords.

The maj7♭5 is a variant of the well-known Lydian chord maj7#11 without the perfect 5th. But the 7♭5 is a jazz chord and it is a nasty sounding chord. It takes a little skill in using that chord.

Major 7 flat 5

Chord intervals: 1-3-♭5-7
Chord example: Fmaj7♭5 = F-A-B-E
Alternate names: maj7#11

Scales that build a maj7♭5 chord:

  • 4th scale degree major scale
  • 6th scale degree harmonic minor

I like this chord and these are my favorite voicings:

maj7b5 E voice
maj7b5 A voice variation
maj7b5 D voice
maj7b5 A/G voice

7 flat 5

Chord intervals: 1-3-♭5-♭7
Chord example: G7♭5 = G-B-D♭-F
Equivalent chord: 7♭5 = 7♭5 on the ♭5, e.g. G7♭5 = D♭7♭5
Alternate names: none that I’m aware of

Scales that build a 7♭5 chord:

  • 7th scale degree melodic minor
  • 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th scale degrees of the half-whole diminished scale
  • Each scale degree of the whole tone scale.

Here are my preferred 7♭5 guitar chord shapes:

jazz type of seventh chord: 7b5
7 flat 5 guitar chord D voice
7 flat 5 guitar chord C voice
7 flat 5 guitar chord G voice

 

 

Final Thoughts

That was a lot of theory to cover for some goofy types of seventh chords. If you are a jazz player, then you need to know all the types of seventh chords, and with all possible extensions. If you are into the same genres as I am, then skip the m-maj7, maj7#5, maj7♭5, m-maj7♭5, and 7♭5. All the others are worth learning.