Is there any use in studying 7th chords and above if I'm not into blues/jazz/funk/fusion stuff?g

Hi there, here I am bothering Justin guitar community again. Yep, this might be stupid question and easy to answer for some but I really need some guidance. I’m currently in intermediate grades 5/6 in both main courses and music theory. Whilst I was having blast learning CAGED shapes in grade 5 and 6 as well as learning about E shaped and A shaped barre chords I started to have some doubts. Whilst I see big use in CAGED shapes and playing in key all over the fret board by knowing them and I see big use in major, minor, sus barre chords things do get bit sticky with “quadads” as Justin calls 7th chords. It’s interesting to me from purely theoretical point of view but I heard in many lessons that Justin emphasizes how 7th, 9th, 11th, 13th chords are VERY COMMON in Jazz, Blues, Funk, Fusion (don’t even have a clue what fusion is?).

The problem is that was never and I don’t think I will ever be interested in those genres. It’s really not my cup of coffee (tea or beer :rofl: ). Most of those chords sound to me weird and I do not really like weird. My goal is there in Justins grade 5, acoustic fingerstyle and folk/pop/worship songs, the usual genres for acoustic guitar. Now it may seem I answered my own question but I wonder if there is someone like me who can tell me if there is any point and/or benefit in learning 7th and especially 9ths, 11ths and 13ths if I’m not into genres that use them. I heard something from Justin in one lesson that some 11th or something chords are used in ambiental guitar music which I do like a lot so that’s why I am asking this question. I wonder if I should learn this and maybe have some use for it or it’s just mind clutter and takes my time from practicing what I really need. I still need guidance, even in intermediate stages. I know Justin advocates against it, but I love when he spoon fed us what to learn :stuck_out_tongue: .

Also, I see final grade in music theory is about modes, which I did study in my spare time and I can actually see the use for them as I like how different modes bring “happier/brighter” moods and others more “sad/dark” moods. Yet with those big chords, I cannot really find much use.

No stupid questions here! Dominant 7th chords are very common in most (all?) genres of western music. You are working on grade 5/6 materials … are you learning songs too? I’d be surprised if you haven’t come across Dom 7th chords in many songs you are learning, whatever the genre.
I would suggest it would be very beneficial to you either learning or writing songs if you can play dominant 7th chords with 5th and 6th string root at least.
The higher extensions - 9, 11 and 13) are less common in pop, rock, folk etc but I think it makes sense to be able to play a 9th chord with a 6th and 5th string root even if you don’t use them often.


What @mathsjunky said. You mention 7th chords, but there are 3 types: dominant, major and minor. I agree that you should learn the dominant 7th chords. As for the others (and the 9th, etc.) I would suggest learning them when you come across a need for them.


I have always held the view with chords that you should know how they are constructed and learn the particular chords as needs must. Knowing them without needing to for me is taking time away from learning something that you need to know!


I’m not as advanced as you, @SkyBlue, nor as the good folks who have already answered. Your question resonated with me, though. As a beginner, I’ve taken the approach already offered: learn the thing for the sake of completeness, but don’t worry about mastering it unless/until it is relevant to you. Of course, this does not apply to basic skills! :wink:


Thank you all for very concise and straight to a point answers! Your answers helped me to clarify some things and set me on proper path. @mathsjunky Yes, I did encounter some songs with 7ths and they do make some sense, but the higher extensions I see not much practical use in my case.

@judi “learn the thing for the sake of completeness, but don’t worry about mastering it unless/until it is relevant to you. Of course, this does not apply to basic skills!” - Well said! Agreed.

My teacher says - the more extensions - the less people in the audience :nerd_face:


I had a college roommate who loved Chick Corea – I had never heard that kind of music before, but I knew one thing: I didn’t like it much. Anyway, fusion is jazz with rock, r&b and/or funk elements incorporated.

:rofl: … I get where your teacher is coming from @Alexeyd l.

I thnk the jibe is aimed at those trying to impress with their “finger gymnastics” rather than giving a good “audience experience”. There’s a subtle chasm between "look at me " and “listen to me”, imho

I have sat through many performances at local small venues where the uncomfotrable seating overbears what’s on stage … :woozy_face: . The gymnast becomes tedious, the other is entertaining … even if Iam not a fan of the genre. However, it is all subjective.

I have learned Add No. chords as they come along The 7th chords family are new to me this year, and must say it has been enlightening and I am enjoying the ride; but they are only one of many “strings to our bow”.

Although I don’t love jazz, I am enjoying some jazz study. Specifically Justin’s introduction to jazz chord and melody and so far, his lesson on “Autumn Leaves”.

Triads are the basic working block of chords and 7ths are the next extension of that. They are used everywhere in music, not just jazz.

What I am finding valuable is using them to not only understand chord construction (and scale/arpeggio relation), but tying in to music theory, harmony, melody and eventually improvisation. These topics didn’t resonate for me well, or wasn’t “clicking” with more standard music for some reason.

I have just started, but I think it is fun, educational and will be applicable to much more than just jazz. It is getting me outside the box of cowboy chords and other standard full chord shapes and I am starting to see how this will help me know and use the fretboard.

It is one of many ways to get places, so you find what interests or inspires you. It seems pretty useful to know a chord, the scale it fits in, how the arpeggios pattern fits the chord and scale and how to then find the triad, 7th and all the variations and extension simply by knowing the notes and how they relate and the small finger movement to get there.

Once some of this is understood, the fretboard starts to open up as a playground to explore, rather than a rigid form of chords and patterns. The notes that go with chords and other notes of a key will make sense.

I would comment that this isn’t incredibly hard or complicated. It takes a bit for it to make organized sense but it does, so it can be understood fairly quickly. Using it is much harder, because it is a lot, very flexible and the goal of using it without having to think about it will take many years of practice.

Then as @CT always says, we can make our own music, not just play someone else’s.

Justin has (or had?) a nice downloadable guide book called “Chord Construction Guide”. I don’t know if it is still available, I couldn’t find it on the site. I found it helpful.


I’ve got the Chord Construction Guide downloaded but I can’t seem to find it over on the website.

Maybe it has been superseded by the individual workbooks in each grade?

Let me know if sharing the PDF here would be OK.