The use of major or minor triad arpeggios is reasonably common in metal playing. Less common though is the use of seventh-chord arpeggios. While seventh chords are an integral part of jazz music, adding in the seventh can add color and depth to your metal arpeggio licks. The five most common types of seventh chords/arpeggios are: major seventh, dominant seventh, minor seventh, minor seven flat five, and diminished seventh. You will see that we can work our way through them all by simply lowering one note each time.


Major Seventh: 1-3-5-7

Whereas a major triad contains the first, third and fifth notes of a major scale, a major seventh (maj7) chord/arpeggio is constructed by adding in the seventh note of the major scale as well. I’ve written all these arpeggio exercises in the key of A, so for an Amaj7 the notes would be A-C#-E-G#. I’ve used the same basic shape from a recent column on sweeping maj/min arpeggios (issue #79). The reason being that with this shape you can sweep through the basic triad arpeggio normally, and to add in the seventh you hammer-on to it on the third string ascending and pull-off descending. So it’s relatively easy. Obviously this is only one position/shape though and there are others.

Hear Exercise 1


Dominant Seven: 1-3-5-b7

For a dominant seventh (7) arpeggio we take the maj7 and lower the seventh degree a half step. You can see this clearly in the tab since only one note has changed – the G# has moved down to a G natural.

Hear Exercise 2


Minor Seven: 1-b3-5-b7

For the min7 arpeggio we take the dominant 7 and lower the third – a C# to a C in this case. In this position the b3 appears twice in the arpeggio shape - on the third and first strings.

Hear Exercise 3


Minor Seven Flat-Five: 1-b3-b5-b7

Next in line is the minor seven flat five chord (min7b5, also known as half-diminished). In relation to the min7 arpeggio, the 1, b3 and b7 remain the same, but now the fifth degree is flattened (E to Eb here on the third and first strings).

Hear Exercise 4


Diminished Seven: 1-b3-b5-bb7

Finally we come to the diminished 7 (dim7) arpeggio. Here the 1, b3 and b5 of the half-diminished chord are retained, but the b7 is lowered a further half-step to become what’s called a double flat 7 (bb7).

Hear Exercise 5


The first four of these seventh arpeggios are diatonic to Major and Natural minor harmony as follows:

Maj: Imaj7-IImin7-IIIm7-IVmaj7-V7-VImin7-VIImin7b5

Min: Imin7-IIm7b5-bIIImaj7-IVmin7-Vmin7-bVImaj7-bVII7.

In minor key harmony,  it is very common to replace the Vmin7 chord of Natural minor with the diatonic V chord of Harmonic minor which is a V7. Diminished seven chords can be used as a substitution over the V7 chord by starting a half-step below the root note.

With all this in mind, I’ve come up with a long lick using all five of these seventh arpeggios in the key of A minor. The chord progression is a very common one: Im7-!Vm7-bVII7-IIImaj7-IIm7b5-V7-Im.

Each arpeggio outlines its respective seventh chord, with a G# dim7 arpeggio being used over the V7 chord (E7), and finishing with a descending run in A Harmonic minor. Since I only used the one basic shape, there are some big position shifts here too. On the recording, I’ve substituted root-fifth power chords for the rhythm guitar, since if you play full seventh chords metal-style with distortion, it will sound too messy.

Hear Exercise 6

Try incorporating seventh arpeggios into your metal soloing for some more colorful sounds.