Major 7 chords are a staple in Jazz music. They're not just Jazz chords though. Major 7 chords show up in all styles of music. These are the mellower counterparts of dominant 7 chords. They can smooth out Major chords and add a Jazzy color to your progressions.
I'm going to show you the G Major 7 chord. This is a versatile chord in a common key on guitar. In fact, I'm going to show you 3 ways to play it!
How To Play G Major 7 On Guitar
Major 7 chords can be written a couple different ways. You’ll mostly see it as Gmaj7, G Major 7, and sometimes as GM7 (capital 'M'). GM7 can be confused with Gm7 (G minor 7, lowercase 'm'), which is why you'll see it more as Gmaj7 or G Major 7.
Version 1: The Easy Gmaj7 Chord On Guitar
The first version is the easiest one. Start by putting your index finger on the 1st string 2nd fret. Then your middle will go on the 2nd string 3rd fret, then 3rd string 4th fret, and 4th string 5th fret. Just think of fretting the next note as down one string, up one fret until you get your pinky down. This is a moveable shape by the way.
Version 2: The Jazzy Gmaj7 Chord
This is probably the most common way to play the Gmaj7 chord on guitar. I see this version played more often than any other and it’s especially common in Jazzy tunes. To start, fret the 3rd fret of the 6th string with your index finger. Then jump up to the 2nd string 3rd fret with your middle finger. Then fret the 4th frets of the 3rd and 4th strings with your pinky and ring finger respectively. Your index finger will natural mute the 5th string, and your palm the 1st string. This is what you want here. You wont play the 5th or 1st strings, though I’m strumming all 6.
One way to think about playing this version of the Gmaj7 is a modified Bm chord. Play a Bm barre chord starting on the 5th string 2nd fret, then take your index finger and move it to the 3rd fret of the 6th string. Now it’s a Gmaj7!
Version 3: The Full Gmaj7 Chord
This last version is my favorite. I first learned this version when I was learning a song by The Gypsy Kings. It's the fullest G Major 7 guitar chord. Start by fretting the 3rd fret of the 6th string with your second finger. Then you’ll begin to fret the first version. Index finger on the 1st string 2nd fret, ring finger on the 2nd string 3rd fret, and your pinky on the 3rd string 4th fret. I’m muting the 5th string with my middle finger by just barely rolling it.
If you’re getting any buzzing try adjusting your fingers just slightly.
How should your practice these chords? You can play them in a progression like this one:
This is a Jazzy progression that the G Major 7 fits beautifully in. Try all 3 versions and see which one you like best. You'll find that you might use different versions of this chord in different contexts. Which is why it's so important to learn them all.
What version of this chord is your favorite? Which was the most challenging? Let me know in the comments!