28
0 C7

C7 ( 1-3-5-flat7) is suppose to contain a G as its 5th right? So how does a guitar get away with this in open position?

2
  • If the G string wasn't fretted, it wouldn't be a C7 chord, now, would it? (it'd just be a C chord)
    – Cole Tobin
    Apr 11, 2015 at 5:48
  • It doesn't get away with it. That chord is properly named C7(omit5).
    – trw
    Feb 27, 2018 at 13:40

2 Answers 2

33

Two reasons.

  • You don't have enough fingers to play it.

  • The fifth is the most expendable note in a 7th chord (1-3-5-7).

Without the 7, it wouldn't be a 7th. Without the 3rd, it wouldn't be major or minor. Without the root, it wouldn't be the chord that it is. But the fifth doesn't contribute any vital property of the chord.

There is this other fretting option which gives you a G:

%X/X.3/1.5/3.3/1.5/4.3/1[C7]
7
  • 1
    The fifth is usually the first to go, I think. But with an 11th chord, the 7 is still pretty vital, usually. YMMV. Oct 9, 2013 at 6:04
  • 8
    @Vigrond: If you have a bass playing the root you may omit that. Oct 9, 2013 at 6:36
  • 1
    Once you get past 7th, theoretically, you need to keep that 7 in the chord. However, particularly on guitar, there are not enough fingers, or strings, or handy frets to play all of the 'required' notes.Often, you can put all of the notes in, but the voicing comes out sounding bad.So, put in what sounds good ! 9th needs 7 and 2, 11th needs 7 and 4, 13th needs 7 and 6, as a guide.
    – Tim
    Oct 9, 2013 at 8:59
  • 1
    The natural 5th is the second most consonant sounding interval after the octave. Usually the next expendable interval is the natural 11th in case of a 13th chord (the 9th needs to be contained and so does the 7th). Oct 9, 2013 at 11:18
  • 1
    @Vigrond if you're playing with a band you can often omit the root, as it's covered by the Bass. And of course it depends what's going on in the melody of the song. Chords with no third leave the tonality to be determined by the melody instruments. There are all kinds of creative possibilities for how you want to "voice" your chords. Spacing between notes is just as important as which notes you choose too. Thats why the "hendrix chord" (0 7 6 7 8 x) sounds so sweet. Generally higher up, note clusters sound good, and lower down you need more space, but there are no rules.
    – Some_Guy
    Aug 26, 2016 at 11:49
11

One reason why the perfect fifth can be left out is that the note is sounded within the root. It's the second harmonic, so it's there anyway, albeit in a quiet way, although some instruments will let it sound better than others.

However - there's always the option of putting in a G on the bottom string, 3rd fret, using the ring finger across the bottom two strings.A chord doesn't have to have root at the bottom, although a lot of people seem to think it does. Luser's option actually gives the opportunity to play two G notes, if the chord is barred across all six strings - another second inversion, quite acceptable and playable.

2
  • thank you. I'm not sure if my basic understanding of music theory is enough to understand your answer. Are you saying the "C" note (root) has underlying "G" tones?
    – Vigrond
    Oct 9, 2013 at 15:19
  • Yes, the fundamental note of C has - 1st harmonic C (octave higher), 2nd harm.G, 3rd harm.C (another oct.up), 4th harm. E, 5th harm. another G. Tends to be quite weak after that ! To find them on guitar, touch a string at 12th fret (1st h.) 7th fret (2nd h.) 5th fret (3rd h.) 4th fret, (4th h.)
    – Tim
    Oct 9, 2013 at 15:44

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