How to Play D7 Chord on Guitar

In today's lesson, we will go over 7 distinct ways to play the D7 guitar chord, also known as the D dominant seventh chord. This guitar chord is built from the D major scale and is similar to the d major chord but has a little extra spice that makes it sound a bit more harsh & bluesy. Perfect for blues and jazz music.

We'll discover various voicings and chord shapes, 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.

Play D7 Chord - Standard Method

d7 dominant standard version chord chart

The first voicing we'll discuss is the easiest way to play the D7 guitar chord, which is essential for any beginning guitarist. What makes this easier than the other chords in this lesson is that we will be in an open position using the open D string. To play, place your:

First finger on the second string, first fret
Second finger on the third string, second fret
Third finger on the first string, second fret

Strum the chord from the fourth string down, and make sure to miss strings 5 & 6!

Play D7 in B7 Shape

d7 in b7 shape

To play the D7 guitar using the B7 shape, use the following fingering pattern:

Middle finger on the 5th string, 5th fret
Index finger on the 4th string, 4th fret
Ring finger on the 3rd string, 5th fret
Fourth finger on the first (high e string) string, 5th fret

We will mute the B string with our 3rd finger, so pay attention to the finger positioning.

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How To Play D7 Barre Chord?

d7 barre chord simple version

D7 Barre Chord (Simple Version)

The next example is yet another easy way to play the D7 but as a barre chord on your guitar.

First finger on the fourth string, tenth fret
Second finger on the third string, eleventh fret
First finger across the first to the fourth string

As you strum this chord, listen to how it lacks depth. This is because we aren't using string 5 and 6 but are playing it higher up the fretboard.

d7 in e7 shape barre chord diagram

D7 Bar In E7 Shape (D7 Barre chord)

To play the D7 chord as the E7 shape, we'll need to play a barre chord that uses all the strings. So, place your:

First finger on the low e string (sixth string), tenth fret
Third finger on the fifth string, 12th fret
Second finger on the 3rd string, 11th fret

Then, as you squeeze in, press your index finger to the side so that all the strings ring out.

Note that this is called the "E7 shape" because of the familiar open position for the E7 chord. If that's confusing you, don't worry about this right now.

Play D7 in A7 Shape

d7 in a7 shape chord diagram

The D7 guitar chord played with the A7 shape must be played as a bar chord in the following manner:

Index finger the 5th string, 5th fret

Ring finger on the 4th string, 7th fret

Pinky finger on the B string (also 7th fret)

Remember: As you squeeze, make sure you're on your fingertips and your index finger presses to the side so that all the strings ring out - especially the high e string.

D Dominant Seventh Chord

lesser known way to play d7 chord

Below is a less-known way to play the D7 guitar chord. In this example, we will play a D chord, or in this case, this would be a D major triad on strings 2-4. To play, place your:

Pinky (fourth finger) on the D string (4th string), 12th fret
Ring finger on the G string (3rd string), 11th fret
Middle finger on the B string (2nd string), fret

This is the D major triad. However, to turn it into a dominant chord, we need to add one more special note, which happens to be on the high e string (1st string) 8th fret.

Make sure to have your thumb low so your fingers can make this big stretch!

D Dominant Seventh Chord (Difficult Version)

d dominant 7 difficult version

In my opinion, the most difficult position to play the D7 guitar chord in this lesson will be when we take the open position and move it up an octave on your guitar. We do this because our fingers get a little cramped due to the closeness of the hand to our body, plus the frets are getting smaller.

To play, place your:

1st finger on the root note (which is the D note on the 4th string 12th fret)
3rd finger on the 3rd string, 14th fret
2nd finger on the 2nd string, 13th fret
4th finger on the 1st string, 14th fret

D7 Guitar Chord Tips

Tip #1

To learn the D7 chord, play the chord very slowly so that all your fingers attack the strings simultaneously. 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 index finger, as this will cause your hand to be unable to stretch or work properly. This goes for all guitar chords.

Tip #3

Even though I have written the D7 chord as the A7, E7, or D7 "shape," I would highly recommend not to think or refer to them like this. When speaking a language, you don't translate as you speak; you just say the word. Similarly, thinking of "A7 shape" or "E7 shape" causes mental clutter. It seems small, but the more clutter you have in your mind, the more negative impact it will have on your playing.

Real musicians play music - amateurs play shapes!

What Are The Notes Of An D7 Chord?

The D7 guitar chord uses four notes derived from the D major scale, which are notes D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#.

When you number the notes on a scale, they are called SCALE DEGREES. So, to make a D7 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 
D   E   F#    G   A   B C

Several notes comprise varying major and minor chords, but precisely to make a D7 guitar chord, we use the C, F#, A, and D notes.

When these 4 notes are being played harmonically (at the same time), you are playing a D7 chord, so you must only have these notes. If you leave one note out or add in any other note, such as an E note, you are no longer playing a D7 guitar chord!

That being said, as you can notice from the chord diagrams, you can have multiple D, F#, A, and C notes, which can be in any order.

In this lesson, I gave one inversion, the D7 barre chord in the simple version. Technically, this would have been called a D7/C because the C note was the bass note. All the rest of the chords we reviewed are in the root position, where the root note is the bass.

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What Are The Notes Of An D7 Chord?

By now, you've learned there are different types of guitar chords, but there are also different types of seventh chords! The dominant seventh is only found on the 5th chord of a key, and the dominant seventh chord's main function is to drive home to the root or tonic chord.

You can hear it in how they sound and understanding this will really level up your guitar playing.

For example, in the Key of G major, the basic chords are G Am Bm C D Em F#dim. The 5th chord is a D major, and it already wants to return to the tonic chord, which is the G chord. But if we turn the D major chord into a D7 chord, the pull will be so strong that we can consider this a perfect cadence.

Learning the D7 guitar chord is important for any guitarist because it is commonly used and, compared to other chords, is very versatile. Similarly, it is frequently used in musical compositions and chord progression because this chord creates an uplifting sound before returning to the tonic chord.

So, if you want to master chords and be a pro at playing songs, this is one of the most crucial lessons to take on your guitar journey. Now try it! Play any D7 guitar chord example, and then play a G chord.