When learning to play a string instrument like the guitar or the ukulele, developing a solid understanding of chords is a vital part of the process. Chords provide the music we play with its foundation, which we then use to develop melodies, arrangements and so on.
Each different type of chord has a distinctive sound, and few are as immediately recognisable and distinct at the sound of a dominant 7th chord or 7th chord. 7th chords are widely used in popular music as a means of creating contrast between more conventional major and minor chords. They also provide a powerful way of establishing tension and release, particularly when used before a major chord.
The G7 chord is perhaps one of the more commonly used 7th chords in Western music. If you’re learning the ukulele and playing popular music, you’re bound to come across this chord. So, mastering how to play it is very much worth your while. If you’ve been wondering how to go about this, this guide provides an insight into how the chord is built, as well as some different ways to play the chord and songs that use it.
Looking for more chords? Check out our guide >>> Easy Ukulele Chords for Beginners to Learn First
Most types of chords are built around what we call triads. A triad is a chord made up of three notes which are played at the same time. We can go further and split triads into two primary groups: major and minor. Major triads consist of a root note, major third, and perfect fifth, while minor triads consist of a root note, minor third, and perfect fifth.
7th chords like G7 are also built using a major triad. The only difference is that a flattened 7th note is added to the major triad, and this is what gives the 7th chord its distinctive sound. It’s worth noting that we can play 7th chords as a triad by removing one of the other notes in the chord, too.
This is because all chords have several different voicings that we can use to play them. A voicing is simply a way to play selection of notes from a particular chord. For example, the standard G7 chord is made up of the notes G, B, D, and F.
How to Play
Now that we know more about the G7 chord, we can explore some different ways to play the chord. Each of these voicings has its own unique qualities, so it’s definitely worthwhile experimenting with each of the voicings and seeing which you enjoy playing or like the sound of best.
This is the standard voicing for the G7 ukulele chord. To play this chord, leave the G string open. Then, fret the C string at the second fret with your second finger, the C string at the first fret with your first finger, and the A string at the second fret with your third finger. This chord shape may look somewhat complicated if you’re new to the ukulele. However, you’ll likely find once you try it that it feels more natural than it looks at first glance.
If you are having trouble nailing the chord shape, then practice is your friend. Make sure to practice at slow tempos until you have built up the muscle memory that you need in order to be able to play the chord consistently. Also, make sure to keep your fretting hand as relaxed as possible.
G7 Chord – Barred Variation
This is another version of the G7 chord for the ukulele, with this voicing being played as a barre chord. To play this voicing, you simply need to fret all four of the strings at the 7th fret with your first finger. Then, fret the A string at the 8th fret with your second finger.
Barre chords have something of a reputation for being difficult to play. While this is one of the simpler barre chords in terms of shape, you may find it tricky to hold the chord for sustained periods at first due to the tension that position can create in your fretting hand. If you are finding it tricky to sustain the chord, the best thing you can do is practice frequently and try to limit tension in your fretting hand. Make sure to take frequent breaks!
G7 Chord – Alternate Voicing
Here’s another voicing that we like for the G7 chord on the ukulele. Fret the C string at the fifth fret with your first finger, the E string at the 7th fret with your fourth finger, and the A string at the fifth fret with your second finger. Leave the lower G string open.
More G7 Chord Variations
Songs that Use the G7 Chord
- The Beatles – Twist and Shout: The early Beatles classic Twist and Shout uses the G7 chord for tension and release to great effect.
- Hank Williams – Jambalaya: An atmospheric tale of life in the Bayou, Jambalaya is a great example of the G7 chord put to good use.
- Burl Ives – Down in the Valley: Burl Ives’ simple, melancholic song of longing relies heavily on the G7 chord in many versions.