Seventh Chords for the Ukulele

You’ve probably already learned about major and minor ukulele chords. Both types of chords are essential for playing beautiful music, and seventh chords also add another layer of music beauty to your songs.

Sometimes seventh chords get left out, but they’re actually important and not too difficult to play. These chords often get used in soul, uptown, or jazz styles of music, adding a funky, groovy sound. Start learning a few sevenths as you learn to play the ukulele and you’ll have more fun improving and switching things up to add interest to your music.

Understanding Seventh Chords

Before you try playing seventh chords on your ukulele, you first need to understand what seventh chords are. They are four-note chords that are built with a triad and the addition of a note to that triad that’s a 7th interval above the root note of the chord. It’s the addition of this extra note that creates interesting music. For example, if you start by building a triad (that means three notes) on C, you’d use C, E, and G. Then, if you add one more note that’s a seventh above C, you end up with a chord of C, E, G, B – the creation of a basic, beautiful seventh chord.

Although we don’t want to dig too deeply into music theory at this point, it is helpful to know that there are several types of seventh chords. A major seventh is beautiful and has a lovely, soft, jazzy sound. Minor seventh chords may either brighten or darken your chord progressions giving you a cool or progressive jazz sound. With dominant sevenths, often found in classical music as well as blues music, you get a strong, compelling sound.

Playing Seventh Chords on the Ukulele

Seventh chords always use four notes, and many (although not all) of them require the use of all four fingers on the frets of the ukulele. If you take a look at 7th chords on a chord chart, you’ll also notice that many of these chords have very similar patterns. For example, if you look at the Eflat7, D7, and C#7 chords, you’ll notice that they all have the same pattern, just the notes are shifted to different spots on the fretboard. The Bflat7 and B7 chords both have similar patterns, and the G7 and Aflat7 chords have another pattern in common. If you can become familiar with the main chord patterns for sevenths, you’ll find it easier to master them.

It may take a little time to memorize and master the seventh chords on the ukulele, but once you have those finger patterns down, you’ll be on your way. And as you add sevenths to your chord knowledge, you’ll definitely enjoy the beautiful and interesting music you’re able to create on your ukulele.