Learn 5 Ways to Play E Major 7 | Chord by Chord

In this guitar lesson, designed to build your understanding of harmony and the fretboard, you'll learn five ways to play E major 7 chords on the acoustic guitar.

Welcome to the latest installment of Chord by Chord, a series designed to build your understanding of harmony and the fretboard. In other lessons, we’ve worked on several major seventh chords: Cmaj7, Gmaj7, Dmaj7, and Amaj7. This time, we’ll go over Emaj7.

The Work

If you’ve been following along, you known that a major seventh chord is a major triad with an added major seventh. An E chord is spelled E G# B, as shown in Example 1, and Emaj7 is E G# B D# (Example 2).


Example 3 shows how to get to Emaj7 from open E chord. Note that it is uncommon to play this Emaj7 on all six strings; it sounds better to play just the bottom four strings. Example 4 shows some voicings on just the top four strings. You can also incorporate the low E string by either using fingerpicking or muting string 5 with the tip of your first finger.

For some voicings in fourth position, see Example 5. Moving up the neck, Example 6 shows how to turn a seventh-position E barre chord into Emaj7. You can eliminate the B on string 1, removing the need for a full barre here. Lastly, Example 7 shows less common voicings in ninth position—feel free to eliminate the fifth string for easier fingering.  

The Result

You should now know a variety of ways to make Emaj7 from E major shapes. To hear this chord in context, check out “1979” by the Smashing Pumpkins. In the next lesson we’ll finish up with major seventh chords.    

Kate Koenig
Kate Koenig

Kate Koenig is a singer-songwriter, music teacher, and music journalist based in Brooklyn, New York. They have been a regular contributor to Acoustic Guitar since 2017.

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