How to play a B7 guitar chord

In this beginners guitar lesson, we look at how to play a B7 chord on guitar. As well as being an essential basic chord, this can be used as an alternative to the very tricky B major barre chord.

What is a '7' chord?

Any number at the end on a chord means there is an extra note added. This doesn't always make it harder to play, in fact it can make it much easier!

7th chords always sound 'bluesy', just like how minor chords sound 'sad'. As the only way to play a normal B chord on guitar is with a tricky barre chord, the B7 here can be seen as a much easier option anytime you see that a B is written in any song!

The B7 chord

B7 open              B7 chord photo

Recommended changes to practice;

  • E to B7 (really common with a 12 bar blues and songs in the key of E)
  • A to B7 (the 1st 3 fingers remain in the same shape- they simply move down a string)
  • G to B7 (The 'buskers' chord change, used in Stand By Me, Dock Of The Bay in the songs below)

B7 crops up in every song at this level, it is that common especially as an alternative to a standard B chord which we won't be doing for some time (it's tough!).

Please make sure these chords are sounding great AND you can play some songs with them before moving on to Level 8 and the big bad F barre chord- put the work in now and it will be much easier!

Remember these top tips to make your chords sound great!

  • Strum the chord, pick each string individually and adjust, and then strum again.
  • Press down strings with the tips of your fingers only
  • Use a pick!
  • Don’t play any strings with an X
  • Don’t touch the underside of your guitar with the palm your chord hand- this will mute the thinnest E string!

Level 7 Strumming - Blues shuffle and triplets

Here we introduce splitting a beat into 3 rather than 2, hence the word 'triplets'. Check out the lesson here on the Blues Shuffle and Triplets!

Or check out any of the songs you can play with your new B7 chord!

To fast track- I recommend Sitting On the dock of the bay by Otis Redding, Hotel California by The Eagles and the 12 bar blues in E lesson!