G7 Guitar Chord: Dominant Seventh Chords From C Major

G7 Guitar Chord: Dominant Seventh Chords From C Major

The G7 guitar chord is the dominant 7th chord from the key of C major and is typically used in a chord progression just before the C major chord in a song.

That dominant 7th chord quality also exists in the 9th, 11th and 13th chords (extended chords) and for C major those chords are G9, G11, and G13.

I have 22 open dominant 7 guitar chord shapes focusing on G7, as well as popular song examples that use a dominant 9th, 11th or 13th chord.

 

Dominant 7th chords and extensions

The major scale has 7 notes that are also referred to as scale degrees and each scale degree has an alternate name. Here are those scale degree names for the notes in C major:

C = tonic
D = supertonic
E = mediant
F = subdominant
G = dominant
A = submediant
B = leading tone

The 1st, 4th, and 5th scale degrees all build major triads, but only the 5th scale degree has a minor seventh interval for its 7th chord. Both the 1st (tonic) and 4th (subdominant) degrees build major 7th chords.

As a result, the 7th chord built on the 5th scale degree (the “dominant”) of any major scale is referred to as a dominant 7th chord. Its main quality is that it has the tritone interval of the scale in the chord which is why it resolves perfectly to the tonic major chord.

For C major the tritone interval is B-F which are the major third and flat seven of the G7 chord. So in general, any chord with a major third and minor seventh interval is called a dominant 7th chord or dom7. Read my Music Intervals article if you are unfamiliar with intervals.

There are 4 notes in the dominant 7th chord leaving 3 notes of the scale not in the chord. When you add those notes to a 7th chord they are referred to as “extensions”. The extensions, or add notes, to the 7th chord, involve the major 2nd, perfect 4th, and major 6th. Using simple math you get 2+7 = 9, 4 + 7 =11, and 6+7 = 13.

Here are the intervals of the dominant 7th chord and three extensions built on the 5th scale degree of any major scale.

 

Dominant 7th chord

Chord intervals: Root, major third, perfect fifth, minor seventh = R-M3-P5-m7 = 1-3-5-♭7
Alternate names: maybe dom7 but “7” is all you need.
Chord tendency: The tendency for all the dominant 7th chords resolves perfectly to the tonic of the scale, so G7 to C major.

Dominant 9th chord

Chord intervals: Root, major third, perfect fifth, minor seventh, major second = R-M3-P5-m7-M2/9 = 1-3-5-♭7-9
Alternate names: 9 or 7(9) or 7 add9

Dominant 11th chord

Chord intervals: Root, major third, perfect fifth, minor seventh, perfect fourth = R-M3-P5-m7-P4 = 1-3-5-♭7-11
Alternate names: 11 or 7(11)  or 7 add11

Dominant 13th chord

Chord intervals: Root, major third, perfect fifth, minor seventh, major sixth = R-M3-P5-m7-M6/13 = 1-3-5-♭7-13
Alternate names: 13 or 7(13) or 7 add13

 

Open G7 guitar chord shapes

The only chords that are more common than the 7th are major and minor triads. You see this chord in almost every song, and of course, it’s the main chord in Blues songs. It’s a MUST KNOW chord.

Use the G7 guitar chord shapes below as the V7 chord in C major or C blues, or the I7 chord in G blues or the IV7 chord in D blues.

G7 chord notes: G-B-D-F

Here is a chord diagram of the symbols I use in my chord blocks:

Explanation of the symbols used on my chord blocks

 

G7 guitar chord 1st position
G7 guitar chord 2nd position
G7 guitar chord 1st position variation
G7 guitar chord 6th position

 

G7 guitar chord 10th position

 

 

Notes on the chords

G7: I like all of them and they all sound good.

 

Open G9 guitar chord shapes

If the dominant 7th chord is a must-know chord, then the dominant 9th is the next dom7 chord you should learn. It can be used the same as a 7th, but it’s also a common chord seen in jazz and funk music. The major 9 smooths out the harsh sound of a straight-up 7th chord. Everyone loves the dominant 9th chord!

G9 chord tones: G-B-D-F-A

 

G9 guitar chord 1st position
G9 guitar chord 3rd position
G9 guitar chord 3rd position variation
G9 guitar chord 2nd variation 3rd position

 

G9 guitar chord 6th position

 

 

Notes on the chords

G9 chords: I think the only ones that sound good are #’s 3 and 5. #1 sounds better if you fret the B on the A string (3-2-0-2-0-1)

 

Open G11 guitar chord shapes

Plain and simple, I don’t like this chord. I never even consider using a dominant 11th chord, although some of the chord voicings below sound great. If I need the perfect 4th added to the V chord, then I’ll just play a 7sus. Regardless of my opinion on the chord, use the chord the same as a dominant 7th.

The dominant 11 and 13 are the 2 of 10 chords where you can drop the root note and the chord is still unique. Meaning the remaining notes do not equal another chord as in the case of a rootless maj7 equaling a minor triad on the 3rd, e.g. Cmaj7 no root = Em.

Dropping the root or perfect 5th is fine when you are playing in a band and the root will be played by another musician. I’ll be writing an article covering every chord without the root or fifth and the chord that results from that.

G11 chord tones: G-B-D-F-C

 

G11 guitar chord 1st position
G11 guitar chord 3rd position
G11 guitar chord 7th position
G11 guitar chord 8th position

 

 

Notes on the chords

G11 chords: #3 is the best by far. #1 is pretty good as well but it’s difficult to hold.

 

Open G13 guitar chord shapes

My next favorite after the 9 is the dominant 13th. It’s also a fantastic sounding chord like the dominant 9th. Whenever I feel like a 7th doesn’t sound right, my first two alterations is to try a 9 or a 13 chord. This chord resolves to the I major chord or can be used on the I, IV or V of a blues tune (same as the other 7ths).

G13 chord tones: G-B-D-F-E

 

G13 guitar chord 2nd position
G13 guitar chord 1st position
G13 guitar chord 3rd position
G13 guitar chord 7th position

 

G13 guitar chord 9th position
G13 guitar chord 3rd position variation
G13 guitar chord 7th position
G13 guitar chord 10th position

 

 

Notes on the chords

G13 chords: #1 is great, #3 is good but it’s hard to hold, and I like #’s 4, 5 and 7. For #8 try fretting the B at the 12th and letting the open high E ring out for a different sound. I like the high pitched notes for some chords, but the high E at the 12th doesn’t sound right to me.

 

Popular songs using extended 7th chords

It’s easy finding examples of songs with a dominant 9th chord but dominant 11th and 13th chords are not as easy to find. But you will definitely find all these chords in jazz tunes and quite often in blues tunes as well.

Dominant 9th chord

Allman Brothers: Stormy Monday C9 & G9
Bob Dylan: Just Like a Woman C9
Danny Gatton: Elmira St. Boogie A9, B9, E9, and D9
James Burton: Hello Mary Lou B9
Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child E9
Jimmy Bryant: Stratosphere Boogie B9
John Lennon: Instant Karma C9
Merle Travis: Cannonball Stomp D9, Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette) D9 and E9
Simon & Garfunkel: America C9, Bridge Over Troubled Water B♭9 and E♭9, Mrs. Robinson C9
Stevie Ray Vaughan: Say What! C9, F9, G9 and lots of 1/2 step dominant 9ths

Dominant 11th & 13th chord

Beatles: All You Need Is Love D11, Revolution G11
Bob Dylan: Just Like a Woman C11
Doobie Brothers: Minute by Minute D13
James Burton: Hello Mary Lou C13

 

Final Thoughts

You have to know, and use, the dominant 7th chord. And don’t let the extensions of 9, 11 and 13 throw you off. They are just dominant 7th chords with 1 extra note that often adds a much richer sound. Regardless, find a handful of the closed dominant 7th guitar chords that you like and your favorite open G7 chords and you’ll have some nice chords for your original songs.

If you like the dominant 7th chords above, then take a look at my G Double Extended 7th Chords article for some more guitar voicings. Also, look at my Comprehensive List of Chords for a list of all the chords which you can use in your songs.

 

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