Before we check out different chord positions for Cmaj7 let’s get an idea of how the chord is built and used.
The notes for the C major scale are C-D-E-F-G-A-B and a major chord is made up of the root, major third, and perfect fifth. Which means a C major chord is made up of the notes C-E-G. We have already discussed chords like E7 that are known as dominant sevenths, Cmaj7 is a major seventh chord . The root, major third, perfect fifth, and major seventh is simply C-E-G-B. The major seventh is used across the board in pop, rock, soul, funk , and of course commonly in jazz. Dominant sevenths are often used to create tension before resolution, major sevenths are more like a little flavor in the chord progression (they give out a smoother feel than the dominant sevenths).
C major scale:
C D E F G A B
C maj7 structure:
Songs With Cmaj7 Chord
- Imagine - John Lennon: to show how mild of a change a major seventh chord can bring we have the song “Imagine” by John Lennon . This song uses a Cmaj7 in the verse between a C and F chord, it helps create the light flowing feel of the song. If you play C-C7-F it gives it more tension and a rock and blues, feel. If we play the C-Cmaj7-F we get a song with a much different and more relaxed feel
- Under the Bridge: another two well-known songs using major sevenths are “ Under the Bridge ” by Red Hot Chili Peppers
- “ It’s too Late ” by Carole King
- Cmaj7 can also be found in the pop and jazz standard “Fly Me to the Moon” and in Al Green’s love ballad “Let’s Stay Together.”
How To Use The Cmaj7 Chord
The best time to play the maj7 are on the one and four chords . So in the key of C we would use Cmaj7 and Fmaj7 in our chord progression. Another key where the Cmaj7 would sound nice is the Key G. If you are into jazz, funk, pop standards, or fusion this is a chord you will see pop up often. It is a chord you will see over and over again in some of the most popular and enduring songs.
Cmaj7 Chord Fingerings
The Cmaj7 tones on the guitar fretboard ( click to zoom )
Using the tones above we can come up with some of the more popular versions of how to play the Cmaj7 chord. Usually, when we play a chord we want the root note (here C) to be the lowest played bass note. Sometimes we will find a chord shape where that isn’t the case, which means the chord is an inversion. If the lowest note is B, E, or G instead of the C that is an inversion.
The most common and first learned open position for Cmaj7 is X32000 . Another easy but bass heavy open position is 332000 .
C major seventh 332000 fingering ( click to zoom )
We can move up to the third position and play it as X35500 ( click to zoom )
There are a few common but difficult positions that take some practice to master like the common jazz voicing of 8X99XX , along with X3545X and XX10987
C major seventh 8X99XX fingering ( click to zoom )
C maj7 guitar chord X3545X pattern ( click to zoom )
C major 7th XX10987 chord shape ( click to zoom )
This chord is a major triad (root, major third, perfect fifth) with a major seventh.
Some books indicate this chord as: C major seventh C M7 C ?7
Fingers notation: 1 = index, 2 = middle, 3 = ring, 4 = pinky. Click here to learn more.
Click on the play button to listen to the chords and visualize the patterns
1 3 5 7
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