Learn 5 Ways to Play E Major 7 | Chord by Chord


Welcome to the latest installment of Chord by Chord, a series designed to build your understanding of harmony and the fretboard. In other lessons, we’ve worked on several major seventh chords: Cmaj7, Gmaj7, Dmaj7, and Amaj7. This time, we’ll go over Emaj7.

The Work

If you’ve been following along, you known that a major seventh chord is a major triad with an added major seventh. An E chord is spelled E G# B, as shown in Example 1, and Emaj7 is E G# B D# (Example 2).

Example 3 shows how to get to Emaj7 from open E chord. Note that it is uncommon to play this Emaj7 on all six strings; it sounds better to play just the bottom four strings. Example 4 shows some voicings on just the top four strings. You can also incorporate the low E string by either using fingerpicking or muting string 5 with the tip of your first finger.

For some voicings in fourth position, see Example 5. Moving up the neck, Example 6 shows how to turn a seventh-position E barre chord into Emaj7. You can eliminate the B on string 1, removing the need for a full barre here. Lastly, Example 7 shows less common voicings in ninth position—feel free to eliminate the fifth string for easier fingering.  

The Result

You should now know a variety of ways to make Emaj7 from E major shapes. To hear this chord in context, check out “1979” by the Smashing Pumpkins. In the next lesson we’ll finish up with major seventh chords.    

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