Learn Major 7 Chord Inversions, The Easy Way (Part 1)

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👋 Hey! Sorry for the time between my last series and this topic – I’ve been super busy – but I’m back with another fun and exciting lesson! Today we’re going to be looking at Major 7 Chord Inversions! I’m excited to discuss this technique as Chord Inversions can be quite tricky to memorize and master all at once. Not only do you have Chord Inversions on your 6th String Root, 5th String Root, and 4th String Root, but you have Major 7th, Dominant 7th, Minor 7th, and Minor 7th (♭5) to learn as well.

Along with a bucket of Chord Inversions to learn, I see most inversions shown linearly, going up the fretboard and staying on the same string root. This method makes it a bit harder for me to learn Chord Inversions as I don’t think “linearly” when playing guitar. I like to think in positions. So, today, I’m teaching an inspiring and useful way to memorize Chord Inversions: by thinking of them as Arpeggios!

Chord Inversions As Positional Arpeggios

As mentioned above, I see most Chord Inversion charts showing the inversions linearly – which I still use, especially in walking bass lines. So, if we take a GMajor7th Chord, we normally see a Root Layout like so:

The Normal Chord Inversion Root Layout
The Normal Chord Inversion Root Layout. This will repeat on the A string and D string roots.

However, it can be challenging to memorize all inversions this way. Let’s think in positions, like a scale or arpeggio, to achieve this, like so:

Positional Chord Inversion Root Layout
Positional Chord Inversion Root Layout, Ideal for memorizing groups of chords and optimizing our memorization of all voicings

So, instead of spanning our chord root on one string, we are going to break this up into a positional arpeggio so we can think in positions, rather than just memorizing voicings. This method helps with the following:

  • Learn Chord Inversions faster
  • Learn all E, A, and D – Root voicings at once
  • Make mental connections to voicings to create cool musical lines

Sold? Cool. Let’s get into the Major 7th Voicings, grouped in pairs of 4:

Major 7 Chord Inversions:

For this lesson, I’m going to using Major 7 Chord Inversions in the key of G (G – B – D – F♯). Three important notes before we proceed:

  • We are focusing on the Melody Note. We want to arpeggiate the Melody. The root might not fall in a perfect arpeggio.
  • Some Chord Inversions are difficult to grab (I’m looking at you, 5th on the A String below…). If you find yourself struggling, try substituting another note or try a different grip.
  • Again, Pay attention to the melody note! 😀 This is Chord Melody guitar after all, and I want you to focus on the melody note and it’s surrounding tensions / extensions.
First group of G Major 7 Chord Inversions
Second group of G Major 7 Chord Inversions
Second group of G Major 7 Chord Inversions
Third group of G Major 7 Chord Inversions
Third group of G Major 7 Chord Inversions
Fourth group of G Major 7 Chord Inversions
Fourth group of G Major 7 Chord Inversions

To Practice:

To practice the Major 7th Chord Inversions above, set a metronome to a low BPM (always practice slowly to be more efficient and reduce injury) and run these chords up and down the neck. Then, don’t look at the chord diagrams to help commit them to memory.

Lastly and most importantly, incorporate them in a song while comping. I’m thinking “Misty” when there are a few 2-Bar Major Chord stretches.

Okay, that’s it for now! Stay tuned for part 2, which will feature Dominant 7th Voicings. As always, Let me know what you think below!

PDF Download:

Want to download a PDF of this lesson? Click below.

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4 thoughts on “Learn Major 7 Chord Inversions, The Easy Way (Part 1)

  1. Hello Tyler, thanks for your enthusiasm for sharing knowledge about fingerstyle jazz melody. I’ve just had a look at your maj7 chord inversions and was slightly puzzled for a moment as you show your treble clef notes one octave below the pitch that the guitar reads (although aurally this correct for, say, piano).
    The info is very stimulating: I’ve always felt more comfortable studying at my own pace rather than signing up to a jazz course.
    I sometimes whistle a jazz melody or improvisation and accompany on guitar! The audience are often surprised but seem to like it.
    I’ll enjoy looking at your other lessons and send a contribution via Patreon.
    All the best,
    Paul Bloomfield

  2. Hi Tyler,
    I have noticed that when playing jazz the low E and A strings never seem to be played at the same time, it appears to be one or the other. Is there a reason for this? or is it just my imagination running wild and misinterpreting something?

    1. Hey Andrew, when arranging, you can lose a bit of fidelity by playing the Low E and A string together, and sometimes, it’s just hard to reach or finger the chord you’re trying to grab. That said, sometimes it sounds awesome! Always use your ear and try to squeeze in a variation or two of each chord – you’ll never know when you’re going to need it.

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