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How to play the C7 chord on guitar

Learn to play the essential C7 chord, featured in hits like "Twist and Shout."

The C7 chord

The C7 chord, pronounced C dominant seventh, is a staple in many musical genres, especially blues and jazz. It's formed by adding a flattened seventh note to the C major triad, creating a rich, slightly dissonant sound that craves resolution. The C7 chord frequently appears in songs like "Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry and "Folsom Prison Blues" by Johnny Cash.

There are many ways to play a chord. Here's a diagram for the most common C7 chord. We've also included other versions below.

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Finger placement for C7 chord

The most common way to play a C7 chord on the guitar is as a first position chord.

Follow these finger positions to play a C7 chord on your guitar:

  1. Place your index finger on the 1st fret of the 1st (B) string.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the 4th (D) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the 5th (A) string.

To strum the C7 chord, use a pick or your thumb to play a downward stroke, hitting all the strings except the 6th (low E) string. You can also add upward strokes between the downward strokes for a more rhythmic sound.

How to play an easy C7 chord on guitar

If you're a beginner looking to play a simpler version of the C7 chord, try this:

  1. Place your first finger on the 1st fret of the B string.
  2. Place your second finger on the 2nd fret of the D string.
  3. Strum only the top four strings (D, G, B, and high E).

How to play a C7 bar chord

Playing the C7 chord as a barre chord can be useful when you need a fuller, more robust sound or want to easily transition to other chords in the same key.

Here's how to play a C7 barre chord:

  1. Place your index finger across all six strings at the 3rd fret, creating a barre.
  2. Place your ring finger on the 5th fret of the 5th (A) string.
  3. Place your pinky finger on the 5th fret of the 4th (D) string.
  4. Place your middle finger on the 4th fret of the 3rd (G) string.
  5. Strum from the 5th (A) string down.

Common C7 chord progressions

The C7 chord, a dominant seventh chord, is commonly used in chord progressions to create tension and resolution, often lending a bluesy or jazzy feel to the music. Some popular C7 chord progressions include:

  • I-IV-V7 (C-F-G7) - Used in "Twist and Shout" and "La Bamba"
  • I-vi-ii-V7 (C-Am-Dm-G7) - Used in "Fly Me to the Moon" and "Girl from Ipanema"
  • ii-V7-I (Dm-G7-C) - Used in "Autumn Leaves" and "All the Things You Are"
  • I-vi-IV-V7 (C-Am-F-G7) - Used in "Let It Be" and "Hey Jude"
  • I-IV-I-V7 (C-F-C-G7) - Used in "Johnny B. Goode" and "Hound Dog"

Drills to master the C7 chord

Mastering the C7 Guitar Chord

To master the C7 chord, try practicing the chord progression C7-F-G7. This drill helps you transition smoothly between the chords and builds muscle memory. Another effective exercise is to play the individual notes of the C7 chord (C, E, G, and Bb) as arpeggios. Start slowly and gradually increase your speed as you become more comfortable with the chord shape and fingering. Remember, consistent practice is key to mastering any guitar chord.

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Songs that feature the C7 chord

Here are 10 popular songs you can play with the C7 chord.

  1. Twist and Shout by The Beatles (D, G, A7, C7)
  2. Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash (E, A, B7, C7)
  3. Shake, Rattle and Roll by Bill Haley & His Comets (E, A, C7, B7)
  4. Ain't That a Shame by Fats Domino (C7, F7, G7)
  5. Rockin' Robin by Bobby Day (A, D, E7, C7)
  6. Matchbox by Carl Perkins (A, D, E7, C7)
  7. Brown Eyed Handsome Man by Chuck Berry (E, A, B7, C7)
  8. Blueberry Hill by Fats Domino (E, A, B7, C7)
  9. Bad Boy by The Beatles (A, D, E7, C7)
  10. Maybellene by Chuck Berry (A, D, E7, C7)

How a guitar teacher can help

If you feel stuck in your playing, it might help to take personalized guitar lessons with an expert guitarist. Taking lessons with a pro gives you access to the skills, feedback, and motivation to reach your goals.

You can find expert guitar teachers to support you in the journey. Thousands of people have turned to online guitar lessons on Til, instead of traditional in-person lessons, because Til gives you access to the best teachers in the world from the comfort of home. And with flexible scheduling, secure payments, lesson recordings, and a private chat with your teacher–there’s never been a better way to learn guitar.

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