Last updated on August 31st, 2023
The F Major 7 chord is a less commonly known chord when first learning to play guitar. You may often see this written as F Maj 7 on sheet music.
The F 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 F 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 F Major 7 chord which you can start to incorporate to your playing.
Let’s get started.
F Major 7 chord theory intro
For example, the F Major 7 chord has the chord tones F, A, C, and E. This is essentially an F 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 F minor 7 chord would contain the chord tones F, Ab, C, and Eb. However, we will only be covering the different Major 7 chord variations in this post.
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.
Simple F Major 7 chord
This is the first way I recommend learning this chord using the 1st open string. The notes follow a diagonal shape which makes it easy to remember.
F Major 7 chord on the 6th string
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.
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.
F Major 7 barre chord on the 6th string
This barred chord shape shares all the same notes with the previous drop 3 chord shape. However, we have to rearrange our fingers and add a barre to play every string. This shape comes from the open E Major 7 chord.
This chord may be difficult to play if aren’t used to playing barre chords. In that case, try playing the chord from the 6th to the 2nd string first and then add the 1st string as you develop more strength in your fingers. If needed, check out these 5 tips to get better at playing barre chords.
Note that for this chord, the F note on the 1st string can sound dissonant with the E note on the 4th string (minor 9 interval below). Although the notes are technically correct, use your ears and judgment to see if you prefer the previous chord instead.
F Major 7 barre chord on the 5th string
This next chord is a common movable shape that starts on the 5th string. This shape comes from the open A Major 7 chord.
Like I mentioned previously, if you can’t get the barre chord to sound clear, first try the notes from the 5th to the 2nd fret. Later on, try adding the 1st string as well.
F Major 7 chord, 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.
F 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 voicing because the 2nd note from the top gets lowered by an octave.
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.
F Major 7 shell chord, 5th string
This F Major 7 shape is a shell chord which includes the root, 3rd and 7th chord tones. Shell chords are simplified shapes that highlight the essential notes in a chord.
F Major 7 mini barre chord
This last shape uses a mini barre chord starting on the 4th string, 10th fret. This is also technically a drop 2 chord because the 2nd note from the top (C) gets lowered by an octave.
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 F 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.
All the best,
JG Music Lessons