Major 7th, Minor 7th, and Dominant 7th Arpeggios

Posted on

In this lesson we’re going to take a look at the major 7th, minor 7th, and dominant 7th arpeggios. These arpeggios are very similar to the major and minor arpeggios, but with an added 7th interval.

Like the major and minor arpeggios, the 7th arpeggios can add a bit of color to your playing, particularly when playing over a I-IV-V blues progression. Introducing the 7th interval really pulls in that bluesy feel.

Major 7th Arpeggios

Major 7th arpeggios are derived from the notes of the major 7th chord. To build the major 7th chord you just add the major 7th interval to a major chord, creating a 4-note chord.

Major chords consist of the root, major 3rd, and perfect 5th intervals. The major 7th chord consists of the root, major 3rd, perfect 5th, and major 7th intervals.

Major 7thRootMajor 3rdPerfect 5thMajor 7th

In the diagram below you see the intervals of the major scale with the major 7th chord intervals highlighted. Those intervals are shown on the guitar fretboard to help you visualize the distance between each interval. This is helpful when relating the major 7th to the dominant 7th and minor 7th arpeggios to follow.

Guitar diagram for intervals for the major 7th chord

CAGED Chord Forms

For the arpeggio forms below we’re going to rely on the CAGED system to relate the arpeggio to a chord form. Although in some cases they don’t match up with the form as strictly as the base major chord, it’s still useful to build the connections between the chord form and arpeggio.

Each diagram contains the chord (left), arpeggio (center), and suggested fingering (right). Feel free to change up the fingering to whatever suits you best.

Below each fretboard diagram is the guitar tab for the arpeggio as well as an audio clip so you can hear how it sounds.

As you go through and learn each arpeggio shape, pay close attention to the root note locations for each. The root note gives you an anchor point by which you can identify arpeggio patterns and move between

C Form

C form major 7th chord and arpeggio

The C form major 7th chord closely resembles the major C shape chord. The only difference is the root note on the 2nd string is moved down a half step to grab the major 7th interval.

There are two root notes in the C form major 7th arpeggio, found on the 5th string and 2nd string.

When playing through the arpeggio, start and end on the bass root note, making sure to play through all of the notes ascending and descending. You can use the tab below to guide you.

Guitar tab for C shape major 7th arpeggio

A Form

A form major 7th chord and arpeggio

The A form also is very similar to its base major form with the only difference being the root note on the 3rd string moved down a half step to the major 7 interval.

The root notes for the A form major 7th arpeggio are found on the 5th and 3rd strings. Use the bass root as your starting point for playing the arpeggio and use the tab below for reference.

Guitar tab for A shape major 7th arpeggio

G Form

G form major 7th chord and arpeggio

The G form major 7th chord in its truest G form is very awkward and difficult to play. Instead, it’s better to play it as shown in the diagram.

The G form major 7th arpeggio contains three root notes which are found on the 1st, 3rd, and 6th strings.

Guitar tab for G shape major 7th arpeggio

E Form

E form major 7th chord and arpeggio

The E form major 7th chord takes on the CAGED major form with the root on the 4th string moved down a half step to the major 7th.

The E form major 7th arpeggio also contains three root notes, located on the 1st, 4th, and 6th strings.

Guitar tab for E shape major 7th arpeggio

D Form

D form major 7th chord and arpeggio

The D form major 7th chord is formed by move the major D form root on the 2nd string down a half step to the major 7th. The position contains root two root notes, found on the 2nd and 5th strings.

Guitar tab for D shape major 7th arpeggio

Dominant 7th Arpeggios

Dominant arpeggios are very close to the major 7th arpeggio with the only difference being the quality of the 7th interval. Major 7th arpeggios contain a major 7th while dominant 7th arpeggios contain a minor 7th:

Major 7thRootMajor 3rdPerfect 5thMajor 7th
Dominant 7thRootMajor 3rdPerfect 5thMinor 7th

The dominant 7th arpeggios contain a minor 7, as shown in the diagram below.

Guitar diagram for intervals for the dominant 7th chord

C Form

C form dominant 7th chord and arpeggio

The C form dominant 7th chord has the bass root on the 5th string. Also note that the 5th is omitted, leaving just the root, 3rd, and 7th. Since the chord quality is based upon the major 3rd and minor 7th intervals, omitting the 5th has little impact on the chord.

The two root notes of the arpeggio are found on strings 5 and 2.

Guitar tab for C shape dominant 7th arpeggio

A Form

A form dominant 7th chord and arpeggio

The A form dominant 7th chord closely resembles the base major A form chord. The root on the 3rd string is dropped down a whole step to include the minor 7th degree.

The dominant 7th arpeggio contains root notes on the 5th and 3rd strings. The A form arpeggio requires a couple of position shifts, which can make it a little tricky to play at first, particularly descending.

Guitar tab for A shape dominant 7th arpeggio

G Form

G form dominant 7th chord and arpeggio

The G form dominant 7th chord is essentially the same shape as the C form, only shifted up a string to the 6th string.

The arpeggio in this form contains three root notes, found on the 6th, 3rd, and 1st strings.

Guitar tab for G shape dominant 7th arpeggio

E Form

E form dominant 7th chord and arpeggio

The E form dominant arpeggio also contains three root notes. They are found on the 1st, 4th, and 6th strings. This particular arpeggio pattern has a nice natural flow to it that makes it easy to play.

Guitar tab for E shape dominant 7th arpeggio

D Form

D form dominant 7th chord and arpeggio

The D form dominant 7th chord again shares similarities to the C form, only it’s flipped horizontally.

The two root notes of the arpeggio pattern are found on the 2nd and 4th strings.

Guitar tab for D shape dominant 7th arpeggio

Minor 7th Arpeggios

If we take the dominant 7th chord and we lower the 3rd a half step to a minor 3rd, we now have the minor 7th chord.

Major 7thRootMajor 3rdPerfect 5thMajor 7th
Dominant 7thRootMajor 3rdPerfect 5thMinor 7th
Minor 7thRootMinor 3rdPerfect 5thMinor 7th
Guitar diagram for intervals for the minor7th chord

If you are familiar with the pentatonic scales, you’ll notice the minor 7th arpeggio patterns closely resemble the minor pentatonic scale shapes. This is because 4 of the 5 notes that make up the minor pentatonic scale are present in the minor 7th chord.

  • Minor pentatonic intervals: root – ♭3 – p4 – p5 – ♭7
  • Minor 7th chord: root – ♭3 – p5 – ♭7

The only missing note is the 4th.

C Form

C form minor 7th chord and arpeggio

The C form minor 7th chord shape is a bit awkward to finger at first. You barre across the minor 3rd and root and use the 2, 3, 4 fingers to play the root, minor 7th, and 5th. Takes a bit of practice to be able to move in and out of this chord form efficiently.

The arpeggio pattern root notes are found on the 5th and 2nd strings.

Guitar tab for C shape minor 7th arpeggio

A Form

A form minor 7th chord and arpeggio

The A form minor 7th chord shape is similar to the E form dominant 7th shape, only moved down a string.

The root notes are found on strings 5 and 3.

Guitar tab for A shape minor 7th arpeggio

G Form

G form minor 7th chord and arpeggio

The G form minor 7th chord is straightforward. It contains three root notes found on the 1st, 3rd, and 6th strings.

Guitar tab for G shape minor 7th arpeggio

E Form

E form minor 7th chord and arpeggio

The E form minor 7th arpeggio also contains three root notes, located on the1st, 4th, and 6th strings.

Guitar tab for E shape minor 7th arpeggio

D Form

D form minor 7th chord and arpeggio

The D form minor 7th chord can be a little awkward to finger at first. You can choose to barre the ♭7 and ♭3 with your middle finger or use your middle and ring fingers to play them while grabbing the p5 with your pinky.

There are two root notes in the D form arpeggio, located on the 4th and 2nd strings.

Guitar tab for D shape minor 7th arpeggio

Wrap up

In this lesson we took a look at major 7th, minor 7th, and dominant 7th arpeggios. Each arpeggio is made up of four notes, which include the root, 3rd, 5th, and 7th. The quality of the 3rd and 7th is what gives the arpeggio its quality.

  • Major 7th: contains major 3rd and major 7th
    • 1 – 3 – 5 – 7
  • Dominant 7th: contains major 3rd and minor 7th
    • 1 – 3 – 5 – ♭7
  • Minor 7th: contains minor 3rd and minor 7th
    • 1 – ♭3 – 5 – ♭7

Once you get the shapes down, you can start applying them to chord progressions. Start with simple two chord progressions and use the arpeggios to target chord tones. Once you’re comfortable with two chords, expand to three chords and so on.

AGT book of scales cover

Get notified of new lessons!