Learn 5 Ways to Play E7 | Chord by Chord

In this guitar chord lesson, designed to build your understanding of harmony and the fretboard, you'll learn ways to play from E major to E7 on the guitar.

Welcome to the latest installment of Chord by Chord, a series designed to build your understanding of harmony and the fretboard. In the last lesson, you learned how to make A7 chords all around the fretboard. This time you’ll do the same, but with E7.

The Work

E7 is a type of dominant seventh chord—remember, a major triad plus a flatted seventh. An E major triad is spelled E G# B, as shown in Example 1, and an E7 chord contains the notes E, G#, B, and D (Example 2).


notation for the e7 guitar chord

If you play a basic open E chord, you can make an E7 just by removing your third finger, as depicted in Example 3a. You could also get an E7 by taking the open E shape and adding your fourth finger on the third-fret D on string 2 (Example 3b).

Example 4 shows how to make a closed E7 voicing on the inner four strings, and Example 5 demonstrates how to form E7 from an E barre chord in seventh position. Remember that you could include the open low E string for a thicker sound. See Example 6 for some less common voicings higher up the neck with the third (G#) as the lowest note. 

The Result

You should now know a variety of ways to play E7 across the fretboard. The Beatles’ “Eight Days a Week” is a great example of a song that makes use of the E7 chord. In the next lesson, we’ll continue exploring dominant seventh chords, focusing on B7.

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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