Using A7 Chord When Playing the Blues

Learning to play blues guitar involves many hours of dedication, focus, and intentional learning so you can master this genre from every angle. In this article, we discuss the A7 chord and the value of its place in blues guitar music. As you browse through lessons, it is important to consider your skill level and what you want or need to study next. 

When you're studying the blues guitar, it is always best to learn one or two skills at a time versus 10 different progressions or more challenging techniques. Blues guitar requires amazing dexterity and a deep understanding of chord progressions, guitar theory, and general soulfulness. We want to help you master blues guitar by becoming a more skilled, flexible, and intuitive player—it will take time and patience, but with persistence you will stack your guitar skills. 

The A7 guitar chord is one of the fundamental chords responsible for the soulful sounds and deep feelings of blues music. As we move through this article, we aim to provide you with in-depth educational information that will make it easier for you to learn the A7 guitar chord and better understand how to use it. Let's get started by looking at the A7 chord to learn more about blues music and how you can learn to play it.

About the A7 Guitar Chord & Blues Music

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As you learn more complex aspects of blues music, it is essential for you to develop a clear and solid understanding of scales, chord progressions, arpeggios, and other distinct elements of this genre. The A7 guitar chord is a 4-note chord that can be notated in a variety of ways; it is common to see the A7 chord written as A7, A dominant 7, or A7 guitar chord. This chord always has four notes that can be remembered as the root, third, fifth, and flat seventh. Each note that makes up the A7 chord is a part of the major scale, which makes them the backbone of music theory.

7th Chords & Blues

A7 Guitar Chord

Playing the A7 Chord

There are several distinct ways you can learn to play the A7 guitar chord. We recommend mastering the A chord before progressing into the A7 chord and all other 7th chords. Since the 7th chords are made of four notes, it is important to memorize and internalize their basic 3-note structures before moving on to their 7th chord counterpart.

Below we outline the most common ways to learn the A7 guitar chord. Remember to learn one at a time and master each version before moving on to try learning other 7th chords. Beginning with the two most common and easiest iterations of the A7 chord, let's learn the A7 guitar chord open position, and the A7 guitar chord E7 barre shape.

A7 Chord: Open Position

This position is one of the most popular and easiest ways to learn A7.

  1. Try placing your 1st finger on the 2nd fret of the 4th string (D string).
  2. Then, place your 2nd finger on the 2nd fret of the 2nd string (B string).
  3. Now you can strum from the 5th string (A string).

Similar to a standard A major chord, all you have to do to make the open position of the A7 guitar chord is remove your 2nd finger.

A7 Chord: E7 Barre Shape

The E7 barre shape version of A7 is based on an open E7 chord. So, if you are new to 7th chords, this may not be the right option for you yet.
The shape of the E7 guitar chord will fit within the A7 chord - E7 barre shape version.

  1. Barre your 1st finger across each string on the 5th fret of your guitar.
  2. Put your 3rd finger on the 7th fret of the 5th string (A note).
  3. Place your 2nd finger on the 6th fret of the 4th string (D note).
  4. Strum each string

As you work your way through learning the barre shapes of these chords, remember that barring is a more advanced technique and it may challenge beginners, so be patient with yourself.

A7 Chord: 1 Finger Barre Shape

This version is great for players who want to practice barre finger technique. This chord sounds great in funk and soul music or for shining through in a band composition.

  1. Barre your 1st finger over the 2nd fret of the 4th string (D note), 3rd string (G note), 2nd string (B note), and 1st string (E note).
  2. Put your 2nd finger on the 3rd fret of the 1st string (high E note)

Practice this technique to establish a better rhythm and feeling for the action of barring.

A7 Chord: 3 Finger Chord

This is the last version of the A7 guitar chord we recommend trying. The sound is gritty with a tight bottom end and features well in roots or blues music. Strum only the top 4 strings.

  1. Put your 1st finger on the 5th fret of the 6th string (low E note).
  2. Put your 2nd finger on the 5th fret of the 4th string (D note).
  3. Then, place your 3rd finger on the 6th fret of the 3rd string (G note).

As you progress through these various methods of making A7, pay attention to the different patterns and rhythms that these sequences create.

Tips & Tricks: Practicing the A7 Guitar Chord

After studying the many ways you can achieve the A7, it is important to practice and apply the music theory behind A7 and 7th chords to your learning process. We have a few tips and tricks that will make practicing the A7 guitar chord fun and easier to understand. First, when you learn a new chord, try squeezing your fretting hand so you can use the muscle memory.

You will become more comfortable with the chord if you intentionally commit it to your memory. Play the chord before your squeeze the fretting hand. It is important for you to check that you're playing the correct chord, of you will learn something other than the A7 guitar chord. Check a chord box or guitar tabs to know your fingers are correct.

Play each note in the chord clearly and ensure that your transitions are easy to play with no pain in your hands. Next, try playing the A7 guitar chord blindly from muscle memory without using your eyes to check finger placement. Use a note recorder or a digital app to confirm that the chord you are playing is a true A7. The last trick for practicing A7 is to move between each chord variation starting at the lowest and moving through to the highest. This method is for more advanced players who are looking to establish a comprehensive understanding of the A7 guitar chord.

Conclusion

Having discussed the A7 guitar chord and its various forms, we hope that you feel confident as you practice mastering this chord and all the other 7th chords. Blues music depends on a strong foundation and developed dexterity of both the mind and the hands. Try focusing on just one or two iterations of the A7 chord until you feel solid and comfortable with them. If you struggle to learn a certain method, return to the base A7 chord, its notes, and how to progress from A to A7. Always reference guitar tabs, video lessons, and other blog posts from our website to help inspire you.

Featured Image: Photo by Brent Keane from Pexels

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