How to play Dominant 7 arpeggios on guitar (with application examples)


If you want to take your improvisation skills to the next level, it’s important to have a solid understanding of Dominant 7 arpeggios. Arpeggios are so effective because they highlight the important notes of a chord.

If you’re familiar with Major triads, this concept goes one step further to include another note in the chord structure.

In this lesson, we’ll specifically look at how to play Dominant 7 arpeggios shapes on guitar, apply them over different chords and musical examples with tabs and audio to help you learn. Grab your guitar and let’s get started!

Understanding Dominant 7 Arpeggios

Before learning to play arpeggios, it’s important to understand what Dominant 7 chords are and how they are built. Every Dominant 7 chord is built upon the following four chord tones: 1, 3, 5, and b7. These chord tones can also be thought of as the scale degrees related to a Mixolydian scale.

For example, the C 7 chord has the chord tones C, E, G, and Bb. This is essentially a C Major chord with an added flat 7th chord tone.

Here is the formula for Dominant 7 chords below.

C 7 chord formula

Now that you know what notes belong to the Dominant 7 chord structure, let’s look at how to read the chord charts.

How to read the chord charts

For the chord 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 green dots represent the root note.

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

Dominant 7 arpeggio shape 1

Here is the first shape with the root note starting on the 6th string. You can use any root note to play these examples but we will cover application examples later in this lesson.

For the following charts, the left side shows you the suggested fingering for an arpeggio and the right side shows you what chord tones you are playing.

Dominant 7 arpeggio shape 1

Dominant 7 arpeggio shape 2

Dominant 7 arpeggio shape 2

Dominant 7 arpeggio shape 3

Now, here is the Major 7 arpeggio shape with the root note starting on the 5th string.

Dominant 7 arpeggio shape 3

Dominant 7 arpeggio shape 4

Here is another way you can play the arpeggio with the root note on the 5th string.

Dominant 7 arpeggio shape 4

Dominant 7 arpeggio shape 5

Dominant 7 arpeggio shape 5

All arpeggio shapes on the fretboard

To help you connect all the shapes we learned, here are all the arpeggio shapes on the fretboard using a C 7 chord arpeggio.

C 7 arpeggios

C dominant 7 arpeggio shapes on guitar

E 7 arpeggios

Here are all the arpeggio shapes on the fretboard using an E 7 chord arpeggio.

E dominant 7 arpeggio shapes on guitar

G 7 arpeggios

Here are all the arpeggio shapes on the fretboard using a G 7 chord arpeggio.

G dominant 7 arpeggio shapes on guitar

Dominant 7 arpeggio application examples

Now, we’ll look at some application examples of using arpeggios over a C 7 chord. You can listen to each example below the notation with tabs.

Application example 1

This first example uses an ascending four note pattern using only the C 7 chord tones: C, E, G, and Bb.

Dominant 7 arpeggio example 1

Application example 2

For example 2, we have a descending arpeggio pattern that skips one note after every chord tone.

Dominant 7 arpeggio example 2

Application example 3

Here, we’re incorporating the Dominant arpeggio with other notes from the C Mixolydian scale.

Dominant 7 arpeggio example 3

Application example 4

Example 4 includes an arpeggio note skipping pattern with other scale notes, and chromatic notes.

Dominant 7 arpeggio example 4

Application example 5

This last example blends the Dominant arpeggio with a C blues scale in measure 1.

Dominant 7 arpeggio example 5

Wrapping up

Arpeggios are a foundational part of improvisation because they highlight the important notes of a chord. If you practice this concept, you’ll find that your solos have much more clarity over the chords you’re playing over.

As you become more comfortable playing arpeggios over a specific chord, also try incorporating other scale notes or try different rhythmic ideas to make your ideas sound more musical. You can also challenge yourself to play arpeggios examples or ideas over different chords.

Check out these other lessons to learn how to play Major 7 arpeggios, minor 7 arpeggios or half diminished arpeggios on guitar.

I hope this helps you to create more interesting ideas when improvising. Happy practicing!

Get the free guitar practice guide here!

Best, 

JG Music Lessons

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