I read that when you take away the fifth in a seventh chord it's still considered a seventh chord. But how would you differentiate between a seventh chord with a fifth and without one? Like is there a Gmaj7Without5 or some other notation?

  • 1
    I think you are missing the point of why the 5th can be omitted. It's very strongly applied especially when the chord is in root position so with or without the 5th the chord doesn't really change that much harmonically and if you cared about the voicings to this level, you would not use chord symbols you would use another more exact notation like sheet music or even tablature.
    – Dom
    Oct 19, 2019 at 5:39
  • 1
    On the stave, it's explicit either way.
    – Tim
    Oct 19, 2019 at 7:09

6 Answers 6


It's very common in guitar chord voicings to omit the fifth without any specific marking for it, these are called "shell chords" (https://www.jazzguitarlessons.net/blog/shell-voicings-jazz-guitar)

The fifth isn't a "guide tone," like the root or 3 or 7 which determines the quality of the chord (happy/sad/dominant/dissonant). It's a perfect interval, emotionally neutral and functionally just amplifying the main harmonics of the root. When you leave out the 5, the chord sounds less crowded and you can hear more of those guide tones that strengthen the harmonies.

But as the other answer mentions, the "no5" notation is sometimes used to be extra specific.


I've seen formatting like Gma7(no5) in guitar tabs. No idea if its standard or used in other contexts.


If I'm looking strictly from a jazz perspective, the above conversation seems right. However, once I get into pop / electronica / EDM...I'm working with sequencers, and there it makes a big difference whether you're holding down the key for the fifth of a chord or not.

That said, standard music notation only covers 90% of what I've needed. I've had to invent a lot of notation, especially when it comes to what scale to play over a passage (e.g. using G" to denote a G double-soul ionian scale). I worried about being needlessly innovative until I learned the history of music notation, and then realized everyone from 14th C monks to 20th C jazz cats were making it up as they went. Innovating missing notation is part of the equation.

I use D7 x5 for "D7 no 5th"? Months later, when I look at my scores, I still know what I meant. When I writing for my band, I put a "notation legend" at the bottom to explain whatever I use. Everyone seems to do well with it.


Yes, Gmaj7(no5) or Gmaj7(omit5) is pretty standard.

But there's a lot to music that can't be conveyed by a chord symbol. If you want to get specific, consider notation (or tab if you're a guitarist).


I personally have never seen a (no5) notation in any official charts in the last 50 years. I am not sure it's a new convention or just one I've missed. Or perhaps we don't use it on this side of the pond. In classical 4 voice homophonic harmony theory the 5 is considered optional. Depending on how the other notes are moving you can choose to use it or not, if not you usually double the 1 (with its octave). In guitar charts I've never seen it notated but have been taught to "grab what works" in the moment.


I would notate it as GMaj7no5. It is a shell chord otherwise and not a true seventh since sevenths are tetrachords, not triads. It does create a bit more space in the center of the chord without the 5th but I personally wouldn’t consider it optional. Guitar chord notation is vague however. Also being a perfect interval doesn’t mean that it doesn’t affect chordal harmonies like others have said.

Theoretically a chord with G2-B2-D3-F#3 will be less dissonant than say a G2-B2-D3-F#3-G3. Both are technically GMaj7 chords, however the latter has a minor second interval between the high F# & G (a perfect harmonic octave). The tone color of the chord will definitely change.

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