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The Minor 7th (Seventh) Chord, What is it and how to play it on Guitar

The minor seventh chord (minor 7th) is that tetrad very similar to the dominant chord but with a small difference that changes everything: its minor third.

guitar minor 7th chords

If you want to learn what is a minor 7th chord and how to construct it on the guitar you can’t miss this fantastic article.

When to use a minor 7th chord

A seventh chord is basically a minor triad to which we have added a minor seventh so they convey a somber and gray feeling that looks great in a musical progressions.

However, this type of seventh chord is actually very versatile and you can find it in several positions of a harmonic progression and also in different musical genres (pop, rock, blues, R&B). In fact, this is a classic jazz chord that can be found perfectly in any song adding that subtly subdued touch.

What is a minor seventh chord?

Minor seventh chords are formed by adding a new minor third interval to a minor triad, so it has the following distribution of third intervals:

Minor Third + Major Third + Minor Third

Thus, the formula for this chord is.

1 ♭3 5 ♭7

So, the answer to the question “what makes a minor 7th chord” would be the following notes:

  • Root (1).
  • Minor third (♭3).
  • Perfect fifth (5).
  • Minor Seventh (♭7).

To sum up, in order to build a minor 7 chord we just need to add the minor seventh (flattened 7th) to a minor chord.

Let’s see an example to undertand it better: we are going to build the A minor seventh chord.

And let’s start with what we already know, the A minor triad (A – C – E):

a minor triad

Now we are going to add the flat seventh. To do this, we count 10 semitones from A:

Therefore, the chord will be formed by the tetrad A – C – E – G.

a minor seventh chord

What does a minor 7th chord look like? Well, we go to our A minor chord and look for the 7th flat on the fretboard.

what makes up a minor 7th chord

As we can see on the image above, Amin7 is an open minor seventh chord quite easy to construct on guitar.

How to write a minor 7th chord

Let’s move on to the next step and see now how to spell a minor 7th chord. And this is actually quite easy because they are named first with the root note of the chord, followed by the lowercase letter m and the number 7 (m7).

I’ll give you a few examples to make it clear:

  • C7: C minor seventh chord.
  • D7: D minor seventh chord.
  • E7: E minor seventh chord.
  • F7: F minor seventh chord.
  • G7: G minor seventh chord.
  • A7: F minor seventh chord.
  • B7: B minor seventh chord.

It is true that you can also notate a minor seventh chord as, for example, Cmin7 or even C-. But this is much less common than the one I have shown you first.

How to play a minor seventh chord on Guitar

Once we have understood the theoretical explanation of these tetrads, let’s see how to construct all minor 7th chords on the guitar fretboard:

minor 7th chords guitar

Minor 7th barre chords

If we look at the minor seventh chord chart guitar above we will notice that they are not that diffcult to build. However, there is a trick to make any minor seventh chord on your guitar.

If you look at Fm7 and Gm7 you will see that they have the same shape which is actually the Em7 chord. Therefore, we can build movable minor 7th chords on guitar by shifting this shape all over the fretboard.

minor 7th barre chords

Songs with minor 7th chords

And with this, we are done with the minor seventh guitar chords. Now it’s your turn to practice them and see how they sound.

For that, I recommend a couple of songs that include them: