A Blues (Fingerstyle)
I put this riff together to demonstrate how to use dominant 7th shells in a blues setting. This riff is done fingerstyle.
When you slim down a dominant 7th chord to its essential tones you end up with what’s referred to as a “shell.” There are 4 different notes that make a dominant 7th chord:
1 - root 3 - third 5 - fifth 7 – (flat) seventh
To make a shell we remove the fifth because it’s not an essential note, and eliminate any duplicated notes on other strings. That leaves us with three notes: the root, third and (flat) seventh of our chord. Long story short shells use three strings, which is very convenient because they give you all the implication of our stock 7th bar chords, but without the clunky shape and muddy lower tones. Playing shells will also free up your unused fingers to grab some outside tones, extensions or walking basslines down the road.
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