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7th barre chords refer – as the name suggests – to the same 7th chord variations (major 7th, minor 7th, and dominant 7th) chords that you might already be familiar with – except that you play them using barre chords instead of open chords. They can come in handy in a variety of situations.
For starters, they share a common advantage with all other barre chord types – they are movable. This means that – rather than memorize the open variations of all the 7th chords – you simply need to know how to play E7(dominant 7th), Emaj7 (major 7th), Em7 (minor 7th), A7, Amaj7 and Am7. You can then move these up the neck (just as you would do with other barre chords) to form new chords of the same quality. Put simply, by merely sliding the chord forms up to the appropriate fret, you can play any 7th chord as a barre!
Before we get into detail, I should point out that this post assumes you’re already familiar with barre chords (getting them to sound clearly, etc.). If you aren’t, you’ll find LOTS of helpful posts if you look through the categories at the top of the sidebar!
First, let’s examine how to play dominant 7th chords. You can play an E7 chord by placing the index finger on the 3rd string (counting from the bottom) of the first fret and your middle finger on the 5th string of the 2nd fret. To use this in a barre chord, you simply slide it up the guitar neck by a fret and make a slight fingering adjustment.
Use your index finger to barre the entire first fret and use your middle, and ring, fingers to fret the 3rd, and 5th, strings respectively. Your fingering should now look like the E7 chord detailed above (but fingered differently) with a barre behind it. This – as those readers who are more familiar with how barre chords work may have guessed – is an F7 chord. You can now move this chord form up the guitar neck to play any dominant 7th chord in the following pattern (starting with the barre on the first fret and sliding up by a fret each time) : F7, F#7, G7, G#7, A7, A#7, B7, C7, C#7, D7, D#7, E7, and back to F7 again. Simple! Those are all the possible E-based dominant 7th barre chords.
A similar principle can be applied with the A7 open chord. This chord can be played by fretting the 4th string (remember to count from the bottom) of the 2nd fret and the 2nd string of the 2nd fret using your index and middle finger respectively. To use it in a barre chord, however, you slide it up by a fret (just like you do with the E-based example above) and use your index finger to barre that first fret. The difference is that you fret the remaining two notes using your RING and PINKY finger – your middle finger just has to occupy itself somewhere :p This is an A#7 barre chord and it can be moved just as in the example above – just start counting the frets from A#7 instead of F7 (so it’s A#7, B7, C7, C#7, etc.). Hopefully by now you get the concept of how we move barre chords up the neck of the guitar to form new chords!
Now you know two ways to play all the dominant 7th chords as barres! The idea is the same for major 7th, and minor 7th, chords so I’ll just explain how to play them on the first fret (as both E- and A-based barre chords) and let you figure out the rest!
You can play an Em7 chord with just one finger – your index on the 5th string(counting from the bottom) of the 2nd fret. To play an Fm7 chord (which you can then move like the F7 chord explained above), you simply use your index finger to barre the first fret and use your middle finger to hit that 5th string (3rd fret). That’s it!
An Am7 chord can be played by fretting the 2nd string of the 1st fret with your index finger and the 4th string of the 2nd fret with your middle finger. To move this up by a fret and play an A#m7 chord you just follow the principle and barre the first fret with your index finger – then fret the remaining notes with your middle and ring finger. Again, you can move it up and down the neck just like the A7 chord above.
Now you should know two ways of playing all the minor 7th barre chords! That brings us to the last set – major 7th barre chords.
You can play an Emaj7 chord by using your index, and middle, fingers to fret the 4th, and 3rd, strings (counting from the bottom) of the 1st fret, respectively. I should point out that you might prefer to switch the fingers around for this one – whichever is more comfortable. You then use your ring finger to fret the 5th string of the 2nd fret. As I’m sure you guessed, you can move this up by a fret by simply using the index finger to barre the first fret and hitting the remaining notes with your free fingers. Voila! An Fmaj7 chord! Again, you can move it up the guitar neck just like the rest.
Finally, you can play an Amaj7 chord by fretting the 3rd string of the 1st fret with your index finger – followed by the 4th, and 2nd, strings of the 2nd fret with your middle, and ring, finger – respectively. You move this up, by a fret, into an A#maj7 barre chord by using your index finger to barre the entire first fret and fretting the remaining notes – on the 2nd and 3rd frets – with your free fingers. Of course, you can move this one up the neck just like all the rest.
Now you should know at least two ways (E- and A-based) to play every 7th barre chord! This was a lot to write so I hope I made everything clear! Anyways, if you found this helpful be sure to share/bookmark it on Facebook, Twitter – or whichever social network you prefer – using the options below! And you can subscribe to my blog via the sidebar too(only takes a few seconds! :p)