Here we cover the 5th chord type, the dreaded D form. Don’t mind my bias here; I’ve decided that it’s aptly named the “D Form” chord because one must deform the fingers to successfully play it. It’s still a good form to learn, but I’ve yet to see anyone really use the major triad in any productive situation. That said, learn it anyway, and we’ll work on altering it to make it more useful. However, technique is subjective; if you find that this chord works for you, certainly use it. Below is the open D chord, and it’s related barre chord:
In this barre chord, the root note is on string 4, played by the 1st finger, barring strings 4 and 5. There’s also a doubled root on string 2. The stretch between the 1st finger and 2nd finger on string 3 is what makes this form a bit difficult. It’s not impossible, it can certainly be played, but most find it difficult to switch to from other chord forms. If you choose to not use this triad, it’s still important to learn, as we’re going to alter it to make it quite useful.
Enter seventh chords and extended chords!
When we continue adding thirds on top of triads, we first reach the seventh chord.
The Major 7th chord is made up of the root, 3rd, 5th, and 7th notes of the related major scale. This 7th note can also be seen as the note a half-step, or one fret, below the root. The “Major 7th” title refers to the Major 7th interval in the chord, from the root note to the 7th notes. To apply this to the D form chord, we can lower the root note at string 2.
The next chord type to look at is called the dominant 7th chord. This chord includes the root, 3rd, 5th, and lowered 7th notes of the major scale. This is the minor 7th interval above the root. This can also be seen as the note a whole step, or two frets, below the root. To turn the D form chord into this dominant 7th chord, we can lower the root note on string 2 two frets. As this chord is the most common 7th chord type, it’s commonly shortened to just 7th, as in E7:
The other chord we’ll create with this method is the Major 6th chord. It’s built from the root, 3rd, 5th, and 6th notes. This chord is also commonly shortened to E6.
Make this same alterations to the E and A form chords:
Rather than lower the root on 2 different strings (strings 4 and 1), we just delete the note on the 1st string. The allows us to do away with the first finger barre for the E form chord, the GMaj7, G7, and G6 chords in this example. These chords are still movable, as strings 1 and 5 can be muted (silenced) fairly easily. For the A form chords, the Cmaj7, C7, and C6 chords, we’ll need to mute the 6th string by extending the first finger enough to just touch string 6. The 1st string can be barred or muted by the 1st finger. In the case of C6, barring string 1 isn’t an option. There’s a bit of a stretch for C6, but it’s a bit easier to do than the stretch for the initial triad form at the beginning of this lesson.
Alter the dominant chord by lowering the 3rd of the chord, and we create a min7 chord.
For the Em7, strings 4 and 5 should be barred with the first finger or string 5 may be muted. Strings 1 and 2 can be barred with the 2nd finger, or I like to use my 2nd and 3rd fingers, with 4th finger on string 3. For the Cm7 and Gm7 chords, there’s an obvious barred first finger. For the alternate for the Gm7, where we can barre with the 3rd finger, and reach over the 5th string to fret the 6th string root note with the longer 2nd finger, effectively muting the 5th string. Enough chords? Learn these, there are more to come.
Keep practicing and have fun!