E Shape 7 Chords

Dominant 7th Grips are a bit everywhere! Learn how to play them and an alternative fingering to sound cooler.

View the full lesson at E Shape 7 Chords | JustinGuitar

I can play barre chords up to C# with little to no problem. But if I try and play a D barre chord or higher, suddenly I’m muting almost all strings and contorting my hand and wrist just to fit my fingers on the right fret. Is this common?

Hi LightStones, it’s all about getting used to playing it higher up the neck - after all your fingers are getting closer together, angle how you keep your wrist and thumb is changing as well. It seems tricky first but gets better with practice.

I suggest introducing some barre chords higher up the neck into one minute changes practice and you will get better at it :blush:

Thanks so much for the reply. I’ll keep plugging away at it.

Hi @TheLightStones and welcome to the community.

You get some good advice from @adi_mrok

Remember also that when you reach a 6-string E-shape barre chord at fret 6 (=B flat) you get the exact same chord as a 5-string A-shape barre chord at fret 1 (= B flat also). Perhaps that is about as uncomfortable as a 6-string barre chord at fret 10 and beyond.
Where this knowledge gets really useful is in the mid-section.
C = fret 8 (E-shape) and C = fret 3 (A-shape).
D = fret 10 (E-shape) and D = fret 5 (A-shape).

These can convert to dominant 7 chords by playing the A-shape with an index finger barre and just two other fingers on the D and B strings.

I’m not saying don’t learn to play barres higher up. Just be aware that you have choices and sometimes one will be preferred for the sound / timbre of the particular chord shape / voicing.

Cheers :blush:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide & Moderator

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Excellent, thank you!

I am in trouble with this shape at first frets F7. I didn’t succeed to play clean all the strings, depending on the position of my fingers the B or D strings are muted or buzzed. Sometimes seems they sound good but increasing the strength of picking they start to buzz.

Hi Richard,

Justin presents a 3-finger “hack” to the full dom7 barre chord (E-shaped). Is there a similar hack for the A-shaped dominant 7 barre chord as well? I find this one especially challenging (string buzz on G string).



Below is an article on shell voicings for 7 chords with plenty of info. The reason a 3 note seven chord works is because the 5 note is very harmonically close to the 1 note. I’ve heard it called the “potato” note because it’s a filler note that doesn’t add much flavour to the chord. So you can skip the 5 note altogether with out losing the characteristic sound of the 7 chord.


Another good alternative for a dominant 7 chord rooted on the 5th string is the C7 shape, played higher up the neck. You should mute (or avoid strumming) the 1st and 6th strings.

This shape seems much more common than the A-shape barre chord in blues playing.