The ToneWay® Project: helping people play music

1, 4, 5

When playing the 1, 4, 5 chords as in the books you sell, when playing the 5 chords how do you know if it is a Major chord or a 7th chord? In Keys of C or G, for example, the 5 is a G and D, can you play a G or a G7 or a D or D7? Or is it just what sounds best to you? I play at home so I don't care if I mess up, I just want to do it right.


Most of the old folk tunes, country songs, and hymns will more often than not use the 7th of the 5 chords but bluegrass music more often just uses the major on 5 chords. That being said…always go with what sounds’s all about sound.


Generally, when an arranger wants the sound of a 7th chord they'll include the number in the chord diagram (G7, D7, C7, etc). But as Mr. Ohnesorge mentioned above, you as the performer have some control over the sound you prefer.


At the top of the music sheet in the books where they list the chords ex. 1,4,5 they will mark chords that are minor as 7m or flat as 7b. So, I think they would mark the 7ths in the same manner.

Rather than substituting the chord ex. C7 instead a C chord think about enhancing the original chord instead. Instead of playing a C chord you could play an Am7. That would preserve the original C E G and add on the 6th of the scale - an A.

C to Am7
F to Dm7
G to Em7

You wouldn’t substitute on the first go around, but you could on the repeats. The idea is to preserve the melody first and then add on the extra flavour.


Howdee! In our books, when it says 7, it really means a 7b. It's often understood in this music to mean a flatted 7. An example in our book is “Little Maggie” So if you're in G, the 7b is an F. If you are in C it is a Bb, as they are only a half tone apart. I.E..there is no Cb.

Minor chords are another thing. 2m…means 2 m…So if you're in G, a 2m is an Am.

I hope this clear things up.

All the best, Leslie


Thanks for all the replies, every little bit helps. I have two of the books but have just been using the songs on this site. I am still learning and have been practicing to play in different keys, A, C, D, and my favorite G. Thanks again.

Edited 2 times; last edited Jun 12, 2019 by Keith M Johnson

Oops..I think I misread your initial question. Looks like others have answered it well!

It's great you're playing in different keys…and it's great you're playing!


I don't think I misread..I know I misread!

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