How to Play E7 Chord on Guitar

In today's lesson, we will go over 7 distinct ways to play the E7 guitar chord, also known as the E dominant chord. This guitar chord is built from the E major scale and is similar to the E major chord but has a little extra spice that makes it sound a bit more harsh & bluesy, which is perfect for blues and jazz music.

Throughout this lesson, we will discover variations, common positions, and finger positions, each with its own chord diagram. I will also give you some tips and tricks to make sure the notes ring out while also getting into some theory and how dominant seventh chords are used to build tension.

Play E7 Chord In Open Position

Variation 1

Variation 2 (B7 Shape)

e7 open variation 1

The E7 chord in the open position is perfect for beginners because it's easy to play. Place your:

Middle finger on the fifth string, second fret
First finger on the third string, first fret
Now, simply strum down all the strings!

Out of all the E7 guitar chords, this position will give you the biggest and fullest sound as you are strumming all six strings, using the low E and the open strings.

e7 in open (b7 method)

This next open position for the E7 chord isn't as common but it's really easy and will be an easy chord to add to your playing repertoire. To play, all you have to do is place your:

Middle finger (second finger) on the fifth string, seventh fret
Index finger on the D string (4th string), seventh fret
Ring finger on the G string (3rd string), seventh fret
Fourth finger on the first string, 7th fret 

Similar to the previous position, strum all the strings. As you can see in the chord diagram, the notes used are E, G# B, and D, meaning we can strum the low E and the B strings open.

How To Play E7 Chord With Barre Chords

e7 with  barre chords easy variation

There are a few easy variations to play the E7 chord as barre chords. The easiest will only use two fingers.

Easy Variation 1

To play, place your index finger on the 4th string 12th fret, then your 2nd finger (middle) on the 3rd string 13th fret—then strum from the 4th string down.

e7 in barre difficult

Next, build off the first variation and play the full E7 chord by placing your:

Index finger on the 6th string, 12th fret
Ring finger on the 5th string, 14th fret
Middle finger on the 3rd string, 13th fret
At last, barre across all the strings!

This is actually easier than other chords that use a barre because your fret hand is close to your body, making it convenient to leverage and get all the notes to ring out.

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How To Play E7 Chord In An A7 Shape?

e7 in a7 shape

The E dominant 7th guitar chord played with the A7 shape can only be played as a barre chord, and to do this, play in the following fingering position:

Index finger on the 5th string, 7th fret
Ring finger on the 4th string, 9th fret
Pinky finger on the B string (also 9th fret)

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.

How To Play E Dominant 7th Chord In D7 Shape?

e7 in d7 shape

The E dominant 7th chord played using the D7 shape is less known but makes for great practice.

1st finger on the D string (4th string), 2nd fret

3rd finger on the 3rd string, 4th fret

2nd finger on the 2nd string, 3rd fret

4th finger on the high E string

Strum from the D string down, and be sure not to strum strings 5 & 6!

How To Play E Dominant 7th Chord (Hard Version)

dominant e 7th chord hard version

This next version is harder as it uses the weak side of your hand and is a big stretch. First, we will play an E major triad with the root note on the 4th string. For this your:

4th finger on the 4th string, 14th fret
3rd finger on the 3rd string, 13th fret
2nd finger on the 2nd string, 12th fret

Next, add your first finger on the 1st string, 10th fret. This will turn your E major chord into an E-dominant 7th chord. You can hear it, too!

Notice how if you only played the triad, it sounded nice, but as soon as you added in that "spicy" note, it added a lot of tension? 

E7 Guitar Chord Tips

Tip #1

To learn the E7 chord, play the chord very slowly so that all your fingers attack the strings simultaneously. Your chord changes will always 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 E7 chord as the A7, B7, or D7 "shape," I would highly recommend not to think or refer to them like this. Yes, I know its common (which is why I used it) but 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.

What Are The Notes Of An E7 Chord?

The E7 guitar chord uses four notes that are derived from the E major scale, which are notes E, G# B, A, C# F# D#

When you number the notes on a scale, they are called SCALE DEGREES. So, to make an E7 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 
E   F#   G#    A   B   C D

Several notes comprise varying major and minor chords, but precisely to make an E7 guitar chord, we use the E, G#, B, and D notes.

When these 4 notes are being played harmonically (at the same time), you are playing an E7 guitar 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 an E7 chord!

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

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