Chord voicings on guitar Pt2. Get dominant!

Chord voicings on guitar Pt2. Get dominant!

On a previous post I showed chord voicing options for dimished chords, using different combinations of strings. Here’s the promised follow up, showing how you can use this knowledge to derive voicings for dominant chords.

Dominant chords are hugely important, not just in their own right but also as a basis for building much more complex and interesting chords. You can add just about any other note to the basic dominant and get a cool new sound. One of the most frequent additions is the b9 (flat ninth). As an example that would mean adding F to an E7 chord.

E7, E7(b9) and Fdim

That’s just what the first two diagrams show. To keep things simple I’ve left out the low B, 2nd fret on the 5th string; but the open 2nd string gives you a high B, so the sound is still there. Go ahead and play the first two chords – it’s vital to get the sound into your ears and mind. Hear the sound of that F adding some bite to the chord?

Here’s the thing. If you simply leave out the E (6th string) from the E7(b9) what you’re left with is a diminished chord – as in the third diagram. You can think of a diminished chord as a dominant 7(b9) chord  without its root.

Look at that third diagram. It’s pretty clear that if you lower the F by one fret you get back to a four-string version of plain old E7.

That gives us the key to unlock the secret: in a diminished chord, lowering any note by one fret produces a dominant 7th.

Let’s look at the dimished chord voicing on string set 4-3-2-1.

Diminished to dom 7

From the position shown the diminished shape yields four different dominant 7ths when you lower each note in turn.

This means that for each of the eight diminished voicings in the previous post you can get 4 dominant 7th voicings.

Put it another way, for every dominant 7th chord you can find 8 different 4-string voicings if you’re clear on the diminished shapes.

I’ll leave you to experiment with finding them and developing your own fingerings. Have fun!


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