The C#7 (or C Sharp Seventh) chord has a brash, bright-yet-heavy sound. The chord itself contains three sharps and its seventh note adds a layer of intrigue. When played together, it has a punchy, clanging tone that conveys a sense of urgency. When played as an arpeggio - breaking down the notes of the chord and playing them one by one - the notes of the C#7 chord creates an aura of the mysterious.
Although the C#7 chord doesn’t have the popularity of the D chord, C chord, or even an E minor or A mminor chord, when played, it certainly makes its appearance known. Let’s learn a few ways to play this chord and songs that incorporate the C#7 into their fabric.
Playing the C#7 Guitar Chord
The C#7 doesn’t often get a lot of play, but it’s worth adding to your repertoire to serve as a game-changer to shake up a song and give it a little something unexpected.
Even though it’s not the most popular of chords, the C#7 chord can be played in a few different ways.
The first (and most popular) version of the C#7 chord uses only four of the six strings, but has a surprisingly rich, full sound.
Begin by placing your index finger on the 2nd fret of the B string. Slide your middle finger to the 3rd fret of the D string.
Finally, place your ring finger on the 4th fret of the A string and your pinky on the 4th fret of the G string.
Strum only the A, D, G, and B strings, omitting both the high E and the low E, as noted below.
Index finger: 2nd fret of the B (2nd) string Middle finger: 3rd fret of the D (4th) string Ring finger: 4th fret of the A (5th) string Pinky finger: 4th fret of the G (3rd) string
Strum four strings down from the A string
The Barre Version of the C#7 Chord
A second version of the C#7 chord relies on a the familiar barre chord pattern, using five strings (instead of just four) to create a thicker, beefier sound.
To play this version, barre your first finger across the fourth fret, beginning with the A string and stretching across five strings. You will omit the low E string in this version.
Once you’ve barred your index finger across the fourth fret, place your ring finger on the 6th fret of the D string and your pinky on the 6th fret of the B string. Strum the A, D, G, B, and E strings. This will produce a higher-sounding version of the C#7 chord since it begins on the fourth fret. Playing this five-string version of the chord also gives it fuller sound, too.
Index finger: 4th fret of the A (5th) string
Index finger: 4th fret of the G (3rd) string
Index finger: 5th fret of the E (1st) string
Ring finger: 6th fret of the D (4th) string
Pinky finger: 6th fret of the B (2nd) string
Strum five strings down from the A string.
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What Notes Make Up the C#7 Chord?
The C#7 chord is made up of the notes C#, E#, G# and B.
Regardless of which version of the chord you choose to play, it will always contain three sharp notes in its construction.
Songs That Use the C#7 Chord
Think of the C#7 chord as a “statement chord.” It isn’t used often, but can be used to create a surprising shift in songs where it pops up. Its versatility lends itself to appear in everything from pop standards to laid back country songs. Let’s take a look at two songs that use the C#7 chord in different ways.
Widely considered to be one of the most romantic pop ballads of all time, “At Last” was written in 1941 and popularized in 1960 by the smooth, soulful vocal stylings of Etta James. Since then, it’s been covered by Celine Dion and Beyonce, proving the timelessness of this tune.
"At Last” makes use of the C#7 chord to shift the slow, languid mood of the song. It helps the song switch gears from smooth and mellow to indicating a joyful revelation on finding love. Those sharps in the C#7 help create an “exclamation point” of a chord that provides those moments in the song.
Fast-forwarding 30 years after James released “At Last,” country artist Travis Tritt used the C#7 chord to inject a little extra twang to his 1990 hit, “Country Club.” Tritt worked the C#7 to provide that “sharp” contrast between the country club and country living. The song straddles the line between old school country and what would become the modern, pop-radio friendly version of country of today.
Get to know the C#7 chord and find ways you can incorporate it into songs that require an unexpected shift in tone. Add more chords and songs to your guitar repertoire with Fender Play.
If you'd like to learn how to play even more chords, browse Fender Play's chord library, learn about chord types, and find tips on how to master them.
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