Seventh Chord Fingerings

If anyone has found fingering charts for the seventh chords, please let me know. I am struggling to decide which fingerings to use but I’ve read that it’s important to be specific and intentional with fingerings. I’d just rather not have to decide on and pencil them all in. I’ve seen seventh chord fingering charts in the the past, I just don’t know where to find them now.

Hi Laura :wave:

Good question.

If I am playing a 7th chord in root position I always use the same fingering.

  • For my right hand I play: thumb, index finger, third finger, and pinky finger.

  • For my left hand I play the reverse: pinky finger, third finger, index finger, thumb.

I use this fingering for major 7ths, minor 7ths, dominant 7th, -7b5s and dim7 chords. For me this is by far the most comfortable.

For the inversions, I may use my 4th finger in order to play the chord and the melody note more comfortably. Let me explain further:

Spread Voicings

When creating arrangements from lead sheets, I rarely stack the notes of the 7th chord sequentially in 1 hand. ie. 1-3-5-7. Sometimes I may do this, but most often I will play a ‘spread voicing’ to get a more balanced and pleasing sound.

A 'spread voicing’ is where we play the melody in our right hand, the bass note in our left hand, and the 3rd and 7th in between which can be played with either hand and in either order. These voicings typically span over an octave which is why they can be referred to as spread voicings.

I explain and demonstrate this concept in our first jazz standard lesson here:

Check out that lesson and let me know if that helps. :sunglasses:

Thanks Hayden. What about the thirds/fourths/ fifths/sixths/sevenths ? What fingerings do you suggest for those?

My pleasure Laura.

That would depend on a lot of factors and it’s quite an open ended question. My initial thoughts would be:

  • What key am I playing in? For keys containing predominantly black notes I might use a different fingering to a key containing just white notes.

  • Am I playing that interval on its own, or as part of a larger voicing/chord structure?

  • Am I also playing the melody note of a tune? In which case I might need to adjust my fingering of the voicing

  • What comes before and after the chord/interval? ie where does my hand(s) need to move from, and move to next.

Ultimately Laura there is no set approach for this and so I would advise to go with the fingering that feels most comfortable for you.

We all have different sized hands and fingers so a specific fingering that works for one of us may not be comfortable and ergonomic for someone else.

There were also jazz musicians such as Thelonious Monk who created their own unorthodox fingering techniques and so there is no ‘one size fits all’.

As mentioned this is a difficult question to give you a concrete answer aside from ‘find what works best for you’.

If I can elaborate on anything above let me know.