The A 7 chord (A dominant 7) is a less commonly known chord when first learning to play guitar.
The A 7 chord has an easy open chord shape but there are many other ways you can play this chord throughout the guitar fretboard. By knowing different A 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 9 ways to play an A 7 guitar chord which you can start to incorporate into your playing.
Let’s get started.
A 7 chord theory intro
The 7 next to the chord refers to a dominant chord which is built upon the chord tones 1, 3, 5, and b7. This is essentially a Major triad chord with the additional b7 chord tone. Dominant chords are often used as the 5 chord in a chord progression before resolving to the 1 chord of a key center.
For example, the A 7 chord has the chord tones A, C#, E, and G. This is essentially an A Major chord with an added b7 chord tone.
Here is the dominant 7 chord formula below.
In contrast, minor 7 chords contain the chord tones 1, b3, 5, and b7. For example, an A minor 7 chord would contain the chord tones A, C, E, and G.
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
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.
You can check this link for more on how to read guitar notation symbols.
A 7 open chord
This first shape is an easy way to play an A 7 chord. You can also think of this shape as an A Major chord with an open 3rd string.
You can also use your 1st finger to press down on the 4th string, 2nd fret if that feels more comfortable.
A 7 open chord adding pinky finger
A variation for the previous A7 chord is to add your pinky finger to the 1st string, 3rd fret. Compare this shape to the previous one and see which sound you prefer.
A 7 barre chord on the 5th fret
Before we get to the full barre chord on the 6th string, here is a smaller barre chord shape you can use on the 5th fret.
A 7 barre chord on the 6th string
This shape is the same as the open E 7 chord except you have to rearrange your fingers as you barre the 5th fret with your 1st finger.
If the notes don’t sound clear when playing this barre chord, first try getting the notes from the 6th string to the 3rd string since they make up the majority of the chord structure. Then come back to this chord as you develop more strength in your hand to be able to play through all the strings without buzzing or muffled notes.
If needed, check out these 5 tips to get better at playing barre chords on guitar.
A 7 on the 5th string
Here is another A 7 chord variation starting on the 5th string, 12 fret with your 3rd finger. This chord comes from an open B 7 chord shape.
A 7 drop 2 chord
This shape uses a drop 2 chord voicing, which is a method of reorganizing chord tones by dropping the 2nd highest chord tone an octave below. In this case, the root note is moved down to the 4th string. Adding the 5 string is optional since the open A note belongs to the chord.
A 7 drop 2 chord – 1st inversion
This next shape comes from the open D 7 chord shape except you have to rearrange your fingers when adding the 1st finger.
A 7 drop 2 chord – 2nd inversion
A 7 barre chord on the 5th string
If your guitar is suitable to play past the 12th fret, here is one last A 7 barre chord on the 5th string, 12th fret.
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 A 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 dominant chords on the same string.
For guitar improvisation ideas, check out these 7 jazz and blues licks over a dominant 7 chord.
Also, see how to play an A Major 7, or A minor 7 chord on guitar.
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All the best,
JG Music Lessons