Add uplifting vibrancy to songs with the D7 chord.
By David Karalis
The D7 chord (also referred to as “D dominant seventh chord”) is a simple chord found in a variety of blues, country and mellow-rock music. It provides an uplifting sound in a chord progression, which is why it’s used in these sometimes-melancholy genres.
There are a variety of ways to play this cheerful chord, ranging from beginner to more advanced approaches.
The “open D7 guitar chord” is the most common approach and it’s the easiest for beginners to start with. If you’re familiar with the D major chord already, you’ll have an easier time because the D7 chord reverses the finger positioning on the higher strings. However, while the same strings are used, the finger placement is different and the D7 chord produces a slightly livelier sound.
To play the open D7 chord, start by placing your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the G string. Next, put your index finger on the 1st fret of the B string. Lastly, place your ring finger on the 2nd fret of the high E string.
It looks like this:
To play the chord, strum four strings down from the D string
The open D7 chord includes four notes to create its full, bright sound. They are:
D, A, C and F sharp
The D7 chord provides a positive twist to some of our favorite somber hits, as well as adding a bit of extra energy to some pop and rock songs. While the D major and Dm chords are more commonly used, it’s important to hear the D7 chord played in diverse range songs to hear the boost of energy it can offer.
If there’s one thing a blues song can benefit from, it’s a welcome, cheerful addition of the D7 chord. “Why I Sing the Blues” by B.B. King is a genre classic that features this particular chord. As an added bonus, the iconic style of guitar playing in this song is used in many other blues tunes, making it a great way get comfortable playing the genre.
Originally introduced by Frances Langford in the 1935 film Every Night at Eight, the blues classic “I’m in the Mood for Love” also incorporates the D7 chord. It was performed by a variety of artists, including the popular Louis Armstrong and Bob Hope, who worked with Langford to entertain the troops during WWII with this hopeful ballad.
Part rock, part blues, “Blue Suede Shoes” by Carl Perkins is another staple that uses the D7 chord. You probably recognize other artists’ covers of the song, most notably Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and even The Beatles.
Country music is another genre where you’ll find songs that make good use of the D7 guitar chord.
Patsy Cline is known for her slow and slightly surreal-sounding songs that combine the sounds of country twang and rockabilly into ethereal ballads. In Patsy Cline's first major hit, “Walkin’ After Midnight,” the D7 chord gives an optimistic spin to the otherwise pensive track.
Despite being originally performed by country singer Johnny Bush, Willie Nelson’s cover of “Whiskey River” is one of his signature songs. The D7 chord provides a slightly upbeat transition between the verses in this song.
You can hear the D7 chord in several other country songs including “Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” by Larry Butler,, “Hey Good Lookin’” by Hank Williams, and “Me and Bobby McGee” by Kris Kristofferson -- made famous by the one and only Janis Joplin.
While not nearly as prevalent in pop as it is the blues, you’ll still find the D7 chord adding a little extra flair to some pop melodies. However, given its pervasiveness in blues, jazz, and other dissimilar genres, you’ll notice pop songs using the D7 chord often incorporate elements from these other categories.
“Daydream Believer” by The Monkees reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in December 1967. This pop classic uses the D7 chord in a way that adds an energetic feeling to this melody.
For another classic pop hit that uses the D7 chord, you can look to “Dancing in the Street” by Martha Reeves & the Vandellas. The chord helps cast a more positive light on the track’s deeper meaning which speaks to the civil rights movement in the 1950s and ‘60s.
For a more recent pop song using the D7 chord, “Candy” by Paolo Nutini is another hybrid, stringing in sounds of folk and soul. The uplifting chord in the backdrop helps balance out the somewhat sadder lyrics.
Last but definitely not least, the elevating effects of the D7 chord can also be found in Christmas classics such as “Deck the Halls” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” to help these traditional hymns in spreading holiday cheer.
There also aren’t as many rock songs that feature the D7 guitar chord, but it’s still used sometimes to add a spirited transition in some tracks.
The Beatles’ “From Me to You” was one of their greatest hits in the UK, however it was lesser known in the US. You can listen for the D7 chord in this charming number.
“Tush” by ZZ Top is borrows elements from both the blues and rock music, which is likely why it also features the D7 chord. Practice the chord using this song if you’re looking for something less complicated.
“Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison is another rock classic from 1967, and the D7 chord is used throughout the entire song in the chorus and to help transition verses.
There are numerous songs you can find the D7 chord in, but ultimately the only way to learn this and other chords is to practice. 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.
If you’re brand new to the guitar, you can start with a free trial of Fender Play!