How to Play B7 Chord on Guitar

In today's lesson, we will go over 5 distinct ways to play the B7 guitar chord, also known as the dominant seventh chord. This guitar chord is built from a major chord but has a little extra spice that makes it sound a bit more harsh & bluesy. Perfect for blues music!

We'll discover various voicings and positions, tips and tricks to make sure the notes ring out, and you can make smooth chord changes while also discussing some music theory that goes into the chord.

B7 Chord In Open Position

b7 with pinky variation

When strumming, you may want to have your thumb just a little high on the neck in case you accidentally strum the sixth string.

Variation 1 - With Pinky Finger

This is the most common position for beginner guitarists as the B7 chord starts with a root note and is in the open position, meaning we'll be using the open b string.

To play the B7 chord in this position, place your:

  1. Second finger on the fifth string, second fret
  2. Third finger on the third string, second fret
  3. First finger on the fourth string, first fret
  4. Fourth finger on the first string (the thinnest string), second fret

Notice that I have the root note indicated by a square shape vs. a circle for other notes in the chord diagrams. 

b7 with pinky variation

Variation 2 - Without Pinky Finger

To play the B7 guitar chord without using your pinky, you can play this same chord shape- just don't use your pinky and avoid strumming the first string.

From the chord diagrams, you may also notice that I have included the chord tones and notes that make up the B7 chord. However, since we are not using the pinky now, the F# note is lacking, transforming the B7 chord into a B7(no5).

Later in this lesson, we'll learn how the B7th chord gets its name. But for now, let's move on to the next shape that also doesn't use the pinky!

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Play B7 Barre Chord Shape

b7 barre chard chord diagram

The first B7 guitar chord we'll play as a barre chord will be in the 7th position. Navigate to the 6th string (the thickest string) and place your: 

  1. Index finger on the sixth string, seventh fret
  2. Third finger on the fifth string, ninth fret
  3. Second finger on the third string, the eighth fret

Squeeze your fingers in while your index finger lays flat across all strings and presses to the side so that you get a good barre chord. 

b7 barre part 2 chord diagram

The following b7 chord we'll look at is also a barre chord that will definitely challenge your chord accuracy as it's a bit tricky for the little finger, but with practice, you'll get it! Also, you will see that this is the only position we have that uses the thickest string, so if you need a more bass sound, practice getting good at this variation. 

  1. Place your first finger on the fifth string, second fret
  2. Then place your third finger on the fourth string, fourth fret
  3. Your fourth finger (pinky finger) on the second string, fourth fret

As you squeeze the chord, apply pressure to the side of your index finger so the chord notes ring out.

B7 Guitar Chord Without Barring

a7 chord without barring chart

There are two chords, or I should say two positions, that we will consider to play the B7 chord without barring and they both use the B note of the 4th string on the 9th fret.

Variation 1

To use this finger placement, position your: 

  1. First finger on the 4th string, 9th fret
  2. Ring finger on the 3rd string, 11th fret
  3. Middle finger on the 2nd string, 8th fret
  4. Pinky finger on the first string, 11th fret

Play each note individually and listen to observe if you can hear all four notes ringing out correctly. 

b7 chord without barring

Variation 2

In our last example, to play the B7 chord, we used the B note on the 4th string 9th fret by placing our index finger. However, this time, place your 4th finger on this note. Then place your ring finger on the 3rd string 8th fret, your second finger on the 2nd string 7th fret, and your 1st finger on the 1st string 5th fret.

To play in this position, you'll need to make sure you pull your elbow in and ensure that your index and middle fingers are doing all the stretching.

B7 Guitar Chord Tips

Tip #1

To learn the B7 chord, play the chord very slowly so that all your fingers attack the strings at the same time. The chord change will be slow if you place your fingers on the fretboard one at a time.

Tip #2

Make sure your thumb is behind your first and second fingers. You don't want your thumb on the outside of your first finger, as this will cause your hand to be unable to stretch or work properly.

Tip #3

When playing bar chords, your index finger (1st finger) needs to execute the bar, so you want to apply pressure to the side of your finger. If you squeeze directly in, your finger will bend, and the strings on your knuckles won't ring out!

Easy Songs That Use B7 Chord

Metallica - Nothing Else Matters
The Eagles - Hotel California

What Are The Notes Of An B7 Chord?

The B dominant seventh guitar chord uses 4 notes that are derived from the B major scale, and are the following: B C# D# E F# G# A#

When you number the notes on a scale, they are called SCALE DEGREES. So, to make a B7 guitar chord, we need the 1st, 3rd, and 5th "degrees" as well as the 7th, but the 7th must be lowered by a 1/2 step.

1      2     3     4    5     6     b7 
B   C#   D#    E    F#   G# A

Several notes comprise varying major chords, and minor chords, but precisely to make a B7 chord, we use the B, D#, F#, and A notes.

When these 4 notes are being played harmonically (at the same time), you play a B7 chord, so you must only have these notes. If you leave one note out or add in any other note, such as a D note, you no longer play a B7 chord!

That being said, as you can notice from the chord diagrams, you can have multiple B, D#, F#, and A notes, which can be in any order. However, I have only provided voicings for the B dominant 7 chord in the root position.

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