the E7 chord includes E G# B D. If we play E7 on the 5th fret, it is missing a B note. Could anyone please explain that?

guitar neck with finger placement indicated for E7 on fret 5

  • 1
    The E note has a B in it; the second harmonic! The fundamental frequency is around 165Hz (a little less). The first harmonic is a bit less than 330 Hz (a higher E), and the second is around 3x165 = 495 (a little less). That's a B! That's part of the reason why it's okay for B to be missing.
    – Kaz
    Apr 17 '21 at 2:37

It is common to omit the 5th in a seventh chord. In the case of E7, that means leaving out the B.

  • E is the root
  • G♯ is the third
  • B is the fifth
  • D is the seventh

Omitting the fifth is also commonly done in minor seventh and major seventh chords.


In general, when you only have a limited amount of voices and you need to leave out a note in a chord, the Perfect 5th is the first to go. A Perfect 5th doesn't typically add a lot of color to a chord and thus typically when playing a chord it's viewed as OK to omit without changing the nature of a chord.

I will say for this specific chord, there's no reason you could not add the B by letting the B string be open instead of doubling the high E string.

  • Or add the B on the seventh fret of the low E string. Then you mute the fifth string. Apr 19 '21 at 1:03

It is common to omit a note from a chord, especially on a guitar, where 3-4 note voicings commonly sound the best, and also it's not always convenient to play all notes. In many cases perfect fifth is a note that doesn't add much to the chord and it can be omitted as in this case. So yes, this is a perfectly valid voicing of E7 chord.

  • In general, if you're going to omit a note from a chord and if the chord includes a perfect fifth, the perfect fifth is what's cut. The same goes for piano, as well. From most to least important in a seventh chord, for example, you have the root, the third, the seventh, and the fifth.
    – John Doe
    Apr 16 '21 at 16:26
  • 4
    @JohnDoe: In a 7th chord, the third and seventh are more important than the root. Altnough omitting the root of e.g. a G7 chord would cause the name to change from G7 to Bdim, the note combination B-D-F or even just B-F would in many contexts sound more like a G7 could than would the note combination G-D-F or G-B-D.
    – supercat
    Apr 16 '21 at 17:57
  • 2
    Huh? You mean standing on a mountain top with the guitar slung around your knees and strumming all six strings with a wildly flailing arm does not sound best?
    – Kaz
    Apr 17 '21 at 2:31
  • @Kaz this of course sounds the best. Sadly this is not where guitar is typically played. Apr 17 '21 at 3:33

In any chord, certain notes have certain importance.

The root is important as it gives the name to the chord. In this case, E7.

The third is important as without it, the chord will be neither major nor minor. An important factor in harmony. This one contains G♯, making it a major based chord.

Since it's a 7th chord, it needs that 7th part. Here a D note.

Often the 5th (P5) of a chord is omitted. Various reasons, one being that on guitar, it's not always possible to finger all the notes of a chord, so something needs sacrificing, and obviously the most important ones kept. Another being the 5th (B) often doesn't add anything to the sound of the chord, except it is a harmonic of the root, so is actually sounding when that root is played.

So 1,3,7 being the most defining, 5 gets left out, with no great loss. Except - there are B notes that could be played at that position on guitar. Leaving the 2nd string open is one, as all that string is doing is duplicating the top string open (a kind of 12-string sound), or the bottom string 7th fret can be pressed, giving a 2nd inversion of E7.


The fifth of a chord isn't very important, because it doesn't do much to define it.

You can leave the fifth out whenever you want, with no bad effect.

  • 2
    This is typically true for perfect fifth, but diminished or augmented fifth can be quite important! Apr 16 '21 at 6:22
  • P5, yes. Aug or dim 5, no.
    – Tim
    Apr 16 '21 at 6:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.