8 ways to play an E Major 7 chord on guitar

Last updated on April 29th, 2024



This lessons covers how to play the E Major 7 chord which is less a commonly known chord when first learning to play guitar. You may also see this written as E Maj 7 or Emaj7 on sheet music.

The E Major 7 chord has an easy open chord shape but there are many different ways you can play this chord throughout the guitar fretboard. By knowing different E Major 7 chord variations, you’ll be able to use them in different musical contexts. 

We’ll first go over some basic chord theory and then cover 8 ways to play an E Major 7 chord which you can start to incorporate into your playing.

Grab your guitar and let’s get started!

E Major 7 chord theory intro

Every Major 7 chord is built upon the chord tones 1, 3, 5, and 7. These chord tones can also be thought of as the scale degrees related to a Major scale.

For example, an E Major 7 chord has the chord tones E, G#, B, and D#. This is essentially an E Major chord with an added 7th chord tone.

Here is the formula for Major 7 chords below.


In contrast, minor 7 chords contain the chord tones 1, b3, 5, and b7. For example, an E minor 7 chord would contain the chord tones E, G, B, and D. However, we will only be covering the different Major 7 chord variations in this lesson.

Now that you know what notes belong to the chord structure, let’s look at how to read the chord charts.

How to read the chord charts

For the charts below:

  • The top horizontal line of the chord chart represents the high E string and the bottom horizontal line represents the low E string.
  • The vertical lines separate each fret. 
  • The numbers in the blue dots tell you which fingers to use on the fretting hand. 
  • The letters on the right of the charts tell you what notes you are playing on each string.
  • Circles on the left represent open strings.
  • Red X means to avoid that string.

You can check this link for more on how to read guitar notation symbols.

Open E Major 7 open chord – simple

Here is a simple way to play an E Major 7 chord with open strings on the first position. This is a common movable shape used for Major 7 chords. This is called a drop 3 chord because the 3rd note from the top gets lowered by an octave.

Simple open E Major 7 open chord chart

Since we skip the 5th string for this shape, this shape may be more ideal for a fingerpicking style of playing. See the next shape for a fuller chord including all strings.

E Major 7 open chord

This chord now includes every string which you can strum through. This is based on the previous shape and you would simply add your 3rd finger to the 5th string, 2nd fret.

E Major 7 open chord chart

As a side note, I would be cautious with the E note on the 1st string because it can sound dissonant with the D# note on the 4th string (minor 9 interval below). Although the note belongs to the chord, use your ears and judgment to see if you want to add this string to the chord voicing.

E Major 7 chord on the 4th string

Here is a common drop 2 chord shape starting on the 4th string. This is a drop 2 chord because the 2nd note from the top gets lowered by an octave.

E Major 7 drop 2 chord 4th string chart

Another way you can play this shape is by barring the notes on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd string with your 3rd finger. Go with whatever is more comfortable for you.

E Major 7 barre chord 5th string

This next barre chord is a common movable shape that starts on the 5th string. This shape comes from the open A Major 7 chord. If you can’t get the chord to sound clear, first try to get the notes from the 5th to the 2nd fret. Then as you develop more strength in your fingers, you can try adding the 1st string as well.

E Major 7 barre chord 5th string chart

If needed, check out these 5 tips to get better at playing barre chords.

E Major 7 on the 5th string variation

This shape comes from the open C Major 7 chord. If this chord feels like too much of a stretch, first try playing it without your pinky (4th finger). Once you’re able to play the barre down including your 3rd finger, try adding the note on the 4th string. This will get easier as you keep practicing it.

E Major 7 on the 5th string variation chart

Easily look up guitar chords with the Essential Guitar Chords Chart!

This chart covers how to play:

  • Major chords
  • Minor chords
  • Major 7 chords
  • Minor 7 chords
  • Dominant chords
  • Half diminished chords
  • Diminished chords
  • Chords starting on all (12) root notes
  • Over 80+ chords!

👉 Get it here!

E Major 7 shell chord, 5th string

You can think of this as a shell chord shape (root, 3rd, and 7th chord tones) and adding the extra open strings which belong to the chord structure.

E Major 7 shell chord, 5th string

E Major 7 mini barre chord

This shape uses a mini barre chord starting on the 4th string, 9th fret. This is a drop 2 chord because the 2nd note from the top (B) gets lowered by an octave.

E Major 7 mini barre chord chart

E Major 7 diagonal shape

If your is guitar suitable for playing past the 12th fret, here is one more E Major 7 chord starting on the 4th string, which comes from the open F Major 7 shape. This chord is easier to remember because of the diagonal shape across the top four strings.

E Major 7 diagonal shape chart

Wrapping up

All these chords were mostly in root position, meaning the root note is in the bass. However, you have even more variations if you use different chord inversions. This is when you play a chord with notes other than the root in the bass.

It’s good to know many possibilities of playing the same chord because you have more flexibility to move around the fretboard. Also, you can use different chord variations when you need a certain note at the top to help define a melody that you are playing over.

I hope this helped you understand how to play an E Major 7 guitar chord or learn new ways of playing it. You can also try shifting the shapes that have all fretted notes to play other Major 7 chords on the same string.

If you’re interested in improvisation, you can learn how to play Major 7 arpeggios on guitar.

Also, see how to play an E 7, or E minor 7 chord on guitar.

📘 Get the free guitar practice guide here!

All the best,

JG Music Lessons

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