B7 Chord Good for Blues Turnarounds

QUESTION:

Is it important to learn the B7 chord and when would you play it?

ANSWER:

The B7 chord is the classic turnaround chord in the style of blues and is very recognizable when you hear it played. This chord works well as a turnaround in the key of E especially. In another guitar lesson we worked on a turnaround lick which works great over the I, IV, V chords in the key of A when played in blues music.

Since we are focusing on the open position notes in this guitar lesson it is yet another example of a guitar chord which requires your fretting hand to actually mute one string. The chords will only use five strings so the open E (the sixth string) will need to be the one that is muted. When you do this you not have to worry about that particular note being heard and the chord will sound just the way it should.

The specific notes in the B7 chord are:

  • B
  • D#
  • A
  • F#

B7 Chord Chart for Guitar
Once you have learned this chord you can try strumming an E Major, A Major and then the B7 and you will be able to hear its distinctive sound and recognize just how great this chord is for a turnaround in this particular progression. You do not have to simply strum it though, you can try arpeggiating the notes and use them individually as well for guitar licks.

Using this I, IV, V blues progression where the B7 is the fifth chord has been done so often in so many songs that it helps it to sound as recognizable as it does. This is a great foundation for loose jam sessions where everyone can have a chance to display their chops, taking turns playing licks. This is just one of those fundamental guitar lessons that many students learn in the very beginning because of its importance and because of the versatility it brings in the style of blues and other popular forms of music as well. So if you ever hear the phrase “blues in E” then this is where this chord will be well worth knowing how to play.

What are Barre Chords on the Guitar?

Let’s use the F Major barre chord as an example here since it can be fairly tricky to play on the guitar because it is not easy to cover all of the six strings with your first finger, which is precisely how a “barre” or bar chord is played.

Additionally, to add to the difficulty factor is that the strings nearest to the guitar nut have the most tension as far as the feel of them goes and this makes things harder to play. Since the F Major chord is played in the first position you have to deal with both of these difficulties.

In other positions where you would play a barre chord, the strings are not quite as rigid as they are nearer the nut. So, even if you simply move up one whole step interval from the F to the G Major, barring all six strings will feel easier to play. The F chord is fourth chord in the key of C Major so it is important that you know how to play this chord. It is not always necessary to play all of the six strings when you need to play the F chord, but in this guitar lesson we will focus primarily on actually barring the full chord, the difficulties which it can bring as well as some useful tips that can make it easier to play.

F Major Barre Chord Chart

One nice thing about learning this pattern of notes is that you can move it around the guitar neck into different positions and the same pattern, or shape, will apply to any other key.

For instance if you move this shape up the neck to the fifth position it will be an A Major chord! Being able to move the bar chord shape around the neck is an excellent way to learn lots of chords with just one shape.

If you want to learn more about this, check out the guitar lesson on intervals here and you will see how this works. It really helps to understand whole step and half step intervals when you want to apply a single chord shape to any key that you want.

The idea when practicing this is to try to get every single guitar string to ring-out clearly as you pick (or strum) each note within the chord. Since you are actually using all six strings this can be rather challenging so some patience definitely helps. A helpful tip is to use some slight palm muting with your picking hand since this will prevent some unwanted noise coming from the adjacent strings. It can take a while to perfect this each time you play it, and even after years of playing you may find that you rarely use the full F bar chord in your playing. Like I mentioned earlier, there are other easier ways to play this chord but learning how to do it this way will provide you with something challenging to practice. Also, once you can play the barre chords on a guitar in the first position all of the others will be significantly easier by comparison.