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Soloing Over Dominant 7th Chords

Dominant seventh chords are used in most songs, so it's good to know your options for soloing over dominant 7th chords and the different ways you can colour them.

This lesson will introduce you to eight key scales that you can connect to a dominant 7th backing chord. Each scale offers a unique flavour and colours the dominant seventh chord in different ways.

Start by watching the video below, which will get you playing these scales across the fretboard and encourage you to explore the different ways of colouring the dom7 chord in your solos. You can then find more tips and tracks to download further down the page.

Dominant seventh chord tracks

Use the chord tracks below to practice playing the scales in this lesson on different root positions.

For example, with the E7 track, the root of your scales will be E. With the A7 track, the root will be... yep, A!

Get your free online metronome here.

Scale ideas for soloing over dominant 7th chords

So, here is a rundown of the scales covered in the video, with some tips for using them in a musical way...

Dominant 7th Arpeggio

The most basic expression of the dominant 7th sound, using only the intervals of the chord - 1  3  5  b7

E string root pattern - ascending

E string root pattern - descending

This pattern requires you to "roll" your index finger from the 1 on the G string to the 3 on the B string. For more on rolling, see the arpeggio technique lesson.

A string root pattern


Dominant Pentatonic

A more suitable alternative to major pentatonic, since it contains the minor 7th (b7). However, regular major pentatonic will still work!

E string root pattern

A string root pattern

Mixolydian (dominant scale)

The standard dominant scale choice.

E string root pattern

A string root pattern


Mixolydian b6

Simply flatten the 6th of Mixolydian for a bit more tension...

E string root pattern

A string root pattern


Phrygian Dominant

Simply flatten the 2nd of Mixolydian b6 for an even more tense sound. Considered one of the more "exotic" scales to western ears.

E string root pattern

A string root pattern


Lydian Dominant

Another nice alternative to Mixolydian, the only difference being an augmented 4th (#4) instead of a perfect 4th (4). Semi-interesting fact: Lydian dominant's "claim to fame" is The Simpsons theme tune.

E string root pattern

A string root pattern


Bebop Dominant

A jazzier dominant scale that adds a chromatic major 7th to Mixolydian...

E string root pattern

A string root pattern


Blues Bebop

A combination of the bebop scale and the blues scale, which uses a b3 and b5 interval. This one will probably only be useful if you're going to be playing jazz, blues and their derivatives...


Dominant 7th Note Selection

While it's fine to choose one scale for building your licks over dom7 chords, experiment with adding individual colour tones to the arpeggio.

For example, it could be as simple as adding the 4th to the arpeggio to give the lick some voice leading (which tends to occur in semitone movements, such as between the 3rd and 4th)...

Suggested fingering in blue.

Another example, the lick below adds the major 2nd, augmented 4th, natural 4th and major 7th to the arpeggio giving us a dominant mish-mash of tones...

The more you practice combinations like this, the more you'll move away from "scale think" and towards pure "note selection think".

In other words, you'll start to see scales merely as convenient patterns of related intervals that you can interchange to create the expression you want.

But the chord tones (i.e. the arpeggio) will always be the tonal center of your phrases.

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