Take an A Minor chord (A, C, and E), add a flattened 7th (G, in this case), and you'll get the ever-useful A Minor Seventh chord. On the guitar, you'll be encountering this particular chord on a vast number of songs, and while it might be tricky for beginners to nail down, it's a necessary part of the chord arsenal, so you're best of mastering it as soon as possible.
That's exactly what we'll be helping you with in today's lesson. In addition to focusing on the many ways you can play the Am7 chord up and down the fretboard, we're going to be shedding some light on ways you can improve your chord playing and a few songs you can use to practice what you'll learn.
For starters, you're going to want to get the open position versions of the Am7 chord under your belt. The first of these is rather simple, and only requires two fingers:
The remaining four variants of Am7 will require a bit more work for you to master, but putting in the effort will grant you access to some rather unique voicings that will open a whole new world of sound in open position:
Moving up the fretboard now, to the 5th fret, you'll have several options for playing Am7 as a barre chord. These will be useful if you want a quick (and relatively easy) voicing to get to, and you have the strength in your fingers to hold down a solid barre.
You also have a few option for non-barre voicings around the 5th fret, but you'll need to perfect your ability to stretch your fingers before taking these two on for size.
There's an interesting voicing you can try up near the 8th fret, reminiscent of your open position C Major chord shape. It will require some skillful string muting to execute, however, so be sure you're ready to finesse this one.
On the 10th fret, you won't have to mute as many strings, but you will need to execute some pretty big stretches to get these voicings right. Start slowly, and concentrate heavily on accuracy so you hit all the correct notes here.
Going up even higher into the tight spaces on the guitar neck, you can try these next three voicings at the 12th fret. Be forewarned, though, you'll really have to cram your fingers into the space to pull them off correctly.
You can even go as high as the 13th fret to play the Am7 chord. Your chances to use these voicings will likely be few and far between, but having them under your belt will help make you a more complete player, so don't discount them outright.
Now that you've got plenty of material to work with, you'll need to keep some tips in mind to help you play these chord voicings to the best of your ability.
For starters, you'll want to reinforce proper muscle memorization by ensuring that you have the voicings 100% correct before you play them. If you're playing the chords sloppily or with the wrong notes repeatedly, you're training yourself to play them incorrectly. Be sure to go slow and ensure you have your fingerings right before you clamp down and strum those strings.
After you manage to get your fingers in place for a voicing the first few times, you should work on removing your fingers from the fretboard and attempting to nail the voicing without looking. This will help build your speed when it comes to playing the chords when it "counts," and will ensure that you're not lost in situations where you can't look at the fretboard to make sure you have the right notes.
Minor Seventh chords are a staple in rock and funk music, so you'll want to check out those genres first to start putting these variants of the Am7 chord you've learned into practice. If you need some suggestions, we've got several for you to tackle right here.
First up is Le Freak by Chic. This disco-funk classic starts off strong with an A Minor chord, and you'll have plenty of chances throughout the song to substitute Am7 for an even funkier and unique sound.
For a rock take on the Am7 chord, check out House of the Rising Sun by The Animals. Again, A Minor takes center stage, but you can easily swap an Am7 chord in from time to time to switch the sound while remaining authentic to the tune.
Lastly, have a go at Still Got the Blues by Gary Moore. You'll find an eclectic mixture of major and minor chords here, along with your new friend Am7 making an appearance in the song's bridge.
Try to tackle these songs and many others that feature Minor Seventh chords to get a good handle on how to do it right. Work hard at adding these to your chord library, and, as always, happy practicing!
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