Learn to play this bright, cheery sounding seventh chord.
By Dillon Wallace
The G7 chord is similar in sound and formation to the G major chord, but the addition of the seventh interval gives it a more open-ended feel. While the G chord sounds like a definitive statement, the G7 tilts upward with the addition of the seventh note.
It’s a chord that exudes warmth and resonance and brings a hearty full sound when added to songs. Unlike it’s minor Gm7 counterpart, the G7 is a calm and comforting chord.
Let’s take a look at a few different ways to play the G7 chord, as well as several songs that include the chord in their makeup.
The G7 chord is comprised of the same three chords that make up the G major chord (G, B, and D), plus the addition of a seventh interval - the F note.
When strumming a G7, listen for these four notes that are blended together to form the full chord:
G, B, D and F
There are a variety of ways to play the G7 chord, but for today’s lesson, we’re only going to zero in on two of the most popular versions: the open position and the 4th position. Both versions of the G7 chord are relatively easy to play and you don’t have to worry about barring your finger across any strings.
To play one version of the G7 in open position, start place your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the low E string. Next, place your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the A string. Leaving strings 4, 3 and 2 open, you’ll complete the chord by placing your index finger on the 1st fret of the high E string. Strum all six strings down from the low E string.
Visualize it here:
Strum six strings down from the low E string
To play the G7 in the 4th position, you’ll omit playing the low E and A strings. Start by sliding your middle finger down to the 5th fret of the D string. Next, place your first finger on the 4th fret of the G string and add your pinky finger to the 6th fret of the B string. Leaving the high E string open, you’ll strum three strings down from the D string.
Strum three strings down from the D string
The warm tone of the G7 chord can be found in every genre from folk to funk. Listen for it in some of these songs and start playing it on your own.
Steve Goodman’s “City of New Orleans” uses the G7 chord in his tribute to the Big Easy to create an upbeat vibe. With a steady country bassline and soft piano accompaniment, “City of New Orleans” chugs along delicately like the train he references in the same track.
Fast forward to more modern folk and, Kaleo’s “All the Pretty Girls” uses the G7 to slow down their typical rock vibe with a heartfelt, stripped-down sound.
Diana Ross and the Supremes know a thing or two about catchy melodies and pitch-perfect harmonies. The G7 is one of many chords used to propel “Baby Love” forward, making it a shining example of Motown melody and three-part harmony.
While, on the surface, the Supremes may not have much in common with Coldplay, they share use of a G7 chord and soaring vocals. “The Scientist” by Coldplay, like many of their hits, delivers a beautiful and calming piano progression – in this case, led by G7 – to capture listener’s ears right from the get-go and hit you right in the feels.
While the G7 chord has a pleasing, downright cheerful tone, it’s still primed to add an unexpected element to rock songs. Case in point: Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” The G7 adds a shimmering effect to this ethereal song, which was infamously spoofed by Will Ferrell in an SNL skit. Come for the unforgettable guitar riff, and stay for the calm vocals and cowbell.
The G7 chord’s genre-straddling power works wonderfully in summertime staple, Sublime’s “What I Got.” One part rock, one part reggae, listen for the G7 chord in the surprisingly addictive chorus.
A classic country throwback, Hank Williams' “Hey Good Lookin’.” Written in 1951, that soft guitar slide and steady acoustic rhythm is as fresh today as it was back then. Listen for the G7 chord (alongside a pair of D7 and C7 chords).
They don’t call him the Godfather of Soul for nothing! With his smash hit, “I Got You (I Feel Good),” James Brown delivers an upbeat, energetic dance classic that’s untouchable. A bright, sprightly G7 chord works its way into the groove, creating a memorable sound that’s truly timeless.
Building off of the funky (brick) house that James Brown helped build, Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Shining Star” brings the funk and doesn’t hold back. Those horns hitting right on beat and that continuous guitar riff overlaying the verses makes “Shining Star” a funk classic for the history books. The G7 is just one building block in a string of unusual chords that helps create the full-on funk of this track.
As one of the all-time blues greats, B.B. King packs a big punch into every bluesy and jazz-inspired guitar note in his smash hit “Lucille.” Named for his beloved guitar, this G7 chord claims some of the honors as a part of this B.B. King signature classic.