7 Guitar Chords Perfect For Lofi Hip Hop With Tabs
You said, “LoFi Hip Hop Guitar Chords?”
There’s a vast amount of possible lofi jazz chords to play on the guitar out there, and it can be tough to determine a few to use in your next production. The giant chord books don’t help at all and one google search into music theory is enough to swear off the entire matter!
So here’s what we’re going to do for you. We’re going to give you some big, lush guitar chords to create some dreamy soundscapes with. We’ve totally got you on that!
However, a big problem with choosing chords to put together is a lack of understanding of basic chord knowledge. So before we get into the juicy tablature that we have for you, let’s talk about this part of making music as quickly as possible.
How Most Chord Progressions Work
Please don’t skip this part! We swear this is good and it’s going to make putting together chords so much easier.
The key to making chord progressions is to have at least a very basic understanding of key signatures. Don’t worry, we’re going to make this insanely easy. Let’s start with C major:
C Major Key Signature = C – D – E – F – G – A – B
Every major or minor key is made up of 7 notes like these, using a formula of half steps and whole steps, and all the chords from the key will be made up of these 7 notes, like so:
C = C – E – G
Dm = D – F – A
Em = E – G – B
F = F – A – C
G = G – B – D
Am = A – C – E
Bm7b5 = B – D – F – A
That’s the most basic knowledge you need about chords! Just remember that every key will have 7 notes, and that these 7 notes will make 7 chords along with it. Finally, every key will have 3 major chords, 3 minor chords, and 1 weird chord called a minor 7 flat 5.
Use the chord shapes in the tab below for reference as we go through the rest of the lesson:
To make any chord progression in a strict minor or major key, just combine these chords together! However, the chords will change when you go to a different key, as you will have a new set of notes. Let’s get into the chords now!
Chord 1: Major 7th Chord
The maj7 chord is the ultimate gateway into dreamy soundscapes with an upbeat sound. Plug this chord in a few times, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to get some great progressions.
In the tab above, we just stuck to using the top notes E, F, and G. By paying close attention to the top notes you’re harmonizing, you’ll not only make it easier to put chords together, but you’ll come up with interesting melodic lines to hook the listener.
Other suggestions for using this chord include a favorite move of ours where you put the I and IV chords together and play maj7 voicings. In this case of C major, that would be Fmaj7 and Cmaj7. You can also try just playing this shape in different spots like F#maj7 or Abmaj7.
Chord #2: The Minor7 Flat 5 Chord
To continue talking about the tab we just gave you earlier, let’s explain this funky chord called the m7b5 (Bm7b5 above).
In lots of popular music, except Jazz, this chord is usually avoided as it doesn’t have the familiar perfect 5th interval. This chord though is really cool to use as it gives off a very mellow sound due to the combination of the diminished 5th, minor 3rd, and minor 7th intervals.
Here’s some more shapes of this chords to use in your own progressions:
It would take more theory to explain these intervals and their context, but these are 3 great intervals to emphasize in lofi jazz or hip-hop.
Chord 3: The Dominant 7 Chord
One of the most widely used chords in all of music is the 7th chord, or more specifically the dominant 7th chord. This chord appears naturally in every major key at the V as V7, or G7 in the key of C major. Very quickly we’ll show the differences between the different 7th chords:
G7 = G – B – D – F
Gmaj7 = G – B – D – F# (F is raised one half step to create a maj7)
Gm7 = G – Bb – D – F (B is lowered one half step to create a minor 3rd)
Although it’s used a lot to end a chord progression, there are many ways to change up and mess around with this chord. Notice how we used it in the tab earlier, as well as this progression below as G7b5:
One variation we used was to flatten the 5th interval to Db, and turn the chord into a G7b5. This gives the chord a similar effect as the m7b5. Feel free to try this chord out in other settings though and see what you come up with!
Chord 4: The m7 Chord
This is yet another very common chord type to use in lofi hip hop or jazz. The reason why is because going from a m7 chord to dominant 7th chord is an extremely common chord change in jazz music. In the context of C major, going from Dm7 (ii) to G7 (V), is something that’ll instantly give off a jazz sound, and more specifically the sounds of the Dorian mode.
What’s also really cool about minor 7th chords is that they actually have other chords in them. This is something that we call a polychord, and it’s easier to demonstrate by breaking down and comparing the Dm7 chord to a few others that are closely related:
Dm7 = D – F – A – C
F = F – A – C
Fmaj7 = F – A – C – E
Am7 = A – C – E – G
When you know more about harmony and how to put chords together, this concept of polychords can be extremely useful. For now though, just like with the other chords, simply practice putting this chord shape together with others you already know to see what you can come up with.
Chord 5: The Minor Maj7 chord
Now we’re getting into a little bit more advanced musical territory. This chord is a very hip jazz voicing that adds on another layer to the m7 chords we just talked about. Look at the earlier progression we shared again to see this chord in action:
We mentioned how the m7 chord gives off the sound of the Dorian mode. By adding the maj7 interval in this context, we get an even darker yet cooler sound due to the increased tension between the intervals that make up this chord.
All of that means basically is that you have yet another version of a minor 7th chord to try out and make progressions with. We suggest looking up the melodic minor scale on YouTube to learn more about how this scale makes some great chords of its own.
Chord 6: The Dim7 Chord
Finally, we have one of the darkest chords you can possibly use in lofi hip hop. To understand a little bit about how to use this chord, let’s break it down:
G#dim7 = G# – B – D – F
G7 = G – B – D – F
The only thing that changed is the G when you compare these two chords together! So even though there are many uses for dim7 chords, this is one of the most basic ways to use it.
In jazz, we call this a substitution. All it means is that instead of using the same chord over and over again we can just sub another closely related chord. This is also how the polychord concept with m7 and maj7 chords work!
If you’re confused about any of this theory that’s okay. It takes awhile to get the foundations of knowledge down before you know the ins and outs of scales and chords to figure out how they influence harmony and melody.
All you need to know right now are these chord shapes, and the 7 chords that make up most major key signatures. With that information, you can easily start making chord progressions using lofi jazz chords like the ones we made for you in this lesson.