Continuing our journey through the world of guitar chords, we'll be looking today at the D7 chord. If you already know how to play the Dm7 chord, you'll see some similarities here, as they share all the same notes, save one.
Look closely, and you'll see that instead of "F," the D7 chord contains an "F#" (meaning the complete chord goes as such: D, F#, A, C) and the sound, while reminiscent of Dm7, is decidedly major as opposed to being minor.
This dominant seventh chord is quite popular in jazz and classical music, and you'll even find it in some pop and folk tunes throughout your guitar journey. It will be an invaluable part of your toolkit, regardless of what specific genre you prefer, so learning to play the D7 chord is essential for your progression toward becoming a more complete player.
With that all being said, let's take a look at the most common ways to play this chord, and some tips on how you can make your voicings sound spot on.
Let's start with the version of D7 that most everyone knows how to play and will likely be easiest for you to accomplish -- the open position variant. Here, you'll just need three fingers spread across three strings to get the job done:
See how easy that was? This version of D7 shouldn't pose any difficulties, as far as fingering is concerned. What you might need to watch out for, though, is ensuring you hit the right strings here.
You'll want to use short, precise strokes to make certain you only play strings 1 through 4, as including the open 5th or 6th string here would ruin the sound. You'll probably be returning to this voicing often when you're playing up in open position, but it's not the only one that exists here.
There's a slightly trickier way to play D7 you can use, if you're up to the challenge:
Here, there's an obvious challenge in the way you'll have to mute the strings. You can simply avoid string six while strumming, but you'll have to exercise some expert finger control to mute string 2 while you're playing.
All it takes is a subtle touch on the 2nd string with your 3rd finger to accomplish, but executing this delicate task might take time for beginners. Start slow, concentrate, and see if you can use your 3rd finger to touch that 2nd string ever so slightly as you play this chord for the best sound.
Now, let's say you want a quick and reliable set of voicings that you can play out of open position and won't take much in the way of complex fingering. For that, you'll need to lean on your barre chords, and when it comes to D7, there are two versions that are most prominent:
The first of those two will obviously be the easiest to play, but if you feel you can make the stretch with your pinky up to the 13th fret, it might be well worth the effort. Doing this changes the "A" present in that first barre chord to a "C," altering the sound of the chord subtly and adding a bit of pop to your playing.
You can even try alternating between the two, depending on what genre and specific song you're working on. Keep both of these in mind, but know that you have a few other options for D7 barre chords if you head back down the guitar neck.
Let's take a look at what you can do on the 5th fret first:
Keeping your bar in place while stretching your fingers up the fretboard is going to be difficult for some. Don't get discouraged, and recall your basic rules for bar chords (like wrist positioning and how to work your thumb behind the guitar neck) to help solidify your technique and pull this voicing off correctly.
In the meanwhile, you might find this 5th fret barre voicing more doable:
This voicing won't sound quite as "full," but you'll get all the notes you need for a D7 chord in there, and it can serve both as a standalone for certain situations and a stepping stone to get you by until you can play the bigger D7 chord on the 5th fret.
We're not done with barre chords yet, mind you, as there's one more option we've got to show you on the 7th fret:
Was that a stretch or what? There's a good chance you'll find this voicing uncomfortable, or even painful, to play at first. It's going to take time to improve your dexterity and flexibility to the point where you can move your fingers into what is admittedly an awkward position, but the payoff will be huge, since this version of D7 offers up a big sound that gets all the strings in on the game.
Lastly, for all you advanced guitarists (and masochists) out there who want even more challenging voicings of D7 to try out, get a load of these ones:
Welcome to "Stretch City." If you were able to pull that voicing off on your first attempt, then kudos, you've mastered your lessons well. If not, don't fret, with some additional time and practice, you'll be able to bend exactly how you'll need to pull this chord voicing off right.
In learning the D7 chord, you might have noticed a common theme -- a lot of these voicings are difficult to pull off. Difficult doesn't mean impossible, however, so keep at it, refer back to some of the basics on how to play chords if necessary, and keep pushing to memorize as many chord voicings as you can. As always, good luck, and happy practicing!
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