Vertical Truth: Chordal Mechanisms for the Guitar

Unit 5: 7th Inversions

  • Create more variety when playing a single chord. 

  • Create texture when 2 guitars are playing together. Each guitar can play a different voicing of the same chord rather than both guitarists playing exactly the same thing all the time. 

  • Create smooth voice-leading from one chord to another.

Interested? Read on!


This product is a PDF download that contains:

  • 10 Lessons

  • 53 Pages

  • 237 Fretboard Diagrams

  • 60 Notation Examples

  • 51 Demonstration Video Links


PLUS...Every demonstration video has dozens of embedded dynamic fretboard diagrams.


Want to know what all the above looks like? Check out this promo video:

What Are Inversions?

An inversion is a chord with any other note of the chord but the root in the bass. 

For example, here are the inversions of Bb7:

Notice the embedded dynamic fretboard diagrams in the video above? Most teaching videos on contain them.


How Are Inversions Used?

Inversions have many uses. For example:

  • 7th Inversions are used is to create more variety when playing a single chord.

This comes in very handy when playing any song that sits on one chord for a while, like a Blues where you have one chord for 4 bars. Think about what piano players play. They don't just play the same static thing for 4 bars - they change up the voicing and move things around. Very few guitar players do that.

You can put yourself in a rare category of guitar playing by knowing 7th Inversions!

  • Another way inversions can be used is to create texture when 2 guitars are playing together. Each guitar can play a different voicing of the same chord rather than both guitarists playing exactly the same thing all the time.

There is a wide variety of sounds and textures that can be achieved this way -

But you have to know your inversions in order to know the possibilities!

  • A third use for inversions is to create smooth voice-leading from one chord to another.

If you play a Dmi7 to a G7 the way most guitarists do it, both chords are played in root position; it looks like this on the staff (you don't have to be able to read music to get the concept here). Notice how ALL the notes jump down a 4th; for obvious reasons, this is called parallel voice-leading:

Sound-wise, this can be somewhat jarring because every note jumps a 4th down.

However, Dmi7 and G7 have 2 notes in common: F and D. If we voice the G7 chord in 2nd inversion, the D and F notes stay the same:

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From one chord to another 2 notes stay the same – thus “common tone.” Of the notes that change, one moves a whole-step and other other moves a half-step, i.e. “smooth voice leading.” There is very little movement and yet the chord has completely changed. It's a much smoother, less jarring sound.


There's also less physical movement on the fretboard; both chords are on the same set of strings, as opposed to jumping from one string group to another, as what happens with parallel voice-leading. And less movement means less potential for error.

Compare Voicings.jpg

The guitar lends itself to parallel voice-leading. It's inherent in the nature of the instrument. When you move power chords and bar chords around (the typical way most guitarists play), as in the parallel voice-leading example above, most of the time you are in parallel mode.


Knowing 7th inversions will take your playing to a whole new level of musicality and open up sounds that set you apart!

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Key Schemes


Another very important thing taught in this lesson series is the concept of Key Schemes.

A Key Scheme is the way diatonic progressions (we will use Common-Tone II V I) are arranged in a particular song to move through different tonal centers, or keys:


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The guitar has been a Grand Obsession of mine for over 50 years. I love everything about it. I've been a full-time professional performing musician since the early seventies. I've taught 50-100 personal students a week since the early eighties.


I know what it takes to play, teach and learn. I'm passionate about playing as well as helping people obtain the priceless value that I've received from music and the guitar.

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