The Am7 (sometimes written as “A minor 7” or “Amin7) chord is built to create tension and amp up the emotion in a song. Like most seventh chords, it has a sound that’s neither happy or sad. This is due to the fact that there is both a minor chord with a 7 interval wrapped up in the composition of a seventh chord.
The end result is a versatile chord that can lend punch when it makes an appearance, lending a bittersweet feel to songs when it’s played. Let’s learn more about this chord and how to play it.
Playing the Am7 Chord
If you already know how to play an Am chord, then playing the Am7 chord will be easy! Think of the Am7 chord as a simplified way to play the A minor chord -- with a twist. Both are played in Standard Open E tuning and use many of the same notes, with one notable exception.
Its structure changes only one note, but that note has a big impact on the tonal quality of the chord. The A minor chord uses the pattern of A, E, B, C, E, while the Am7 chord can be unravelled with A, E, G, C, E forming the chord. (Am7 simply swaps the “B” for an open “G”.)
To play the Am7, start by placing your first (index) finger on the 1st fret of your B string (your second string). From there, slide your second (middle) finger onto the second fret of the D string -- which is your third string.
Index finger: 1st fret of the B (2nd) string
Middle finger: 2nd fret of the D (4th) string
Strum five strings down from the A string
Another Way to Play the Am7 Chord
You can also slide up the neck to play the Am7 chord in the 5th position by using a barre chord.
Index finger: 5th fret of the low E (6th) string
Index finger: 5th fret of the D (4th) string
Index finger: 5th fret of the G (3rd) string
Index finger: 5th fret of the B (2nd) string
Index finger: 5th fret of the E (1st) string
Ring Finger: 7th fret of the A (5th) string
Strum six strings down from the low E string
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What Notes Make Up the Am7 Chord in Open Position?
Even though there are no flats in the Am7 chord, the notes blend together to form a serious sounding chord. The A Minor 7 includes the following notes:
A, E, G, C, E
To play the Am7 chord, strike each of your strings except the low E (6th string).
Songs Using the Am7 Chord
The Am7 chord knows how to make an entrance. While there aren’t as many songs that feature an A minor 7 chord as there are songs that incorporate an E chord, familiarize yourself with songs that use the chord and train your ear to listen for its lended punch.
The versatility of the Am7 chord shines in a dazzling array of pop songs that show off just how this chord can be used to great effect.
On “Holocene” by Bon Iver, the singer-songwriter uses the Am7 chord to underline the emotional tug of war between self-doubt and hope.
Acoustic power ballad, “More Than Words” by Extreme sees guitarist Nuno Bettencourt blend the Am7 into a chord progression that incorporates percussive strumming -- tapping the hollow portion of your acoustic guitar while strumming to create a built-in beat without drums.
The Am7 chord can also be used to build a cheerful sounding tune, such as “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by The Beach Boys. It can also be relied on to provide some gritty funk flavoring on songs like “Super Fly” by Curtis Mayfield.
The legendary Patsy Cline had her own unique sound that was instantly evident in so many of her songs. Slow, dream-like, and dripping with vulnerability, “Crazy” was recorded in just one take and became one of her signature songs. The Am7 chord adds to the mellow heartbreak of this tune in its orchestration.
One part blues and one part sentimental standard, Louis Armstrong’s rendition of “I’m In the Mood For Love” positions the A minor 7 chord in a romantic way.
On the flipside, contemporary blues innovator Robert Cray takes the Am7 chord and throws it into a sexy, beat-heavy groove on “Phone Booth.”
Expand your chord vocabulary to include the Am7 and start using it to add an unexpected boost of emotion in songs. Learn new tips, tricks, and songs with a free trial of Fender Play.
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