I’ll bet you money that you already know a ton about the Am7 guitar chord, and that you’ve heard it many many times. Alright maybe it’s not used so much in pop-punk tunes (what happened to that genre?) or in country music (ain’t twangy enough), but its usage is rife throughout pop music and especially jazz music. Wait a second don’t dismiss this chord because you’re a tough rocker that only uses power chords……..
In this article, we’re not only going to show you how it’s used in those genres, but also show how a certain popular scale is the basis of this type of chord. Here at Uberchord, we like to obsess over theory nonsense so that you can build your songwriting and lead guitar knowledge. The more you can learn and use the principles behind the Am7 guitar chord, for instance, the more you’ll be able to rawk!
First, though, let’s go through some songs you actually know. It’s always a good idea to find out where chords like the Am7 guitar chord are used in real music that you love (hopefully)…..
All The Shapes Of The Am7 Guitar Chord
The Am7 shape, and its other shapes, are some of the most important you can learn to become a well-rounded guitarist and musician. Let’s take a look at a few in the image below. The most important will be the first chord with the x02010 configuration, then the 5x555x will be next. Practicing and knowing these two chords will be of great help to you right now, as a beginner/intermediate player.
Now, let’s talk about some actual music like we promised. The chords to part of the verse of Don McLean’s American Pie are below. This song, and the next two, are all in the key of G major, which means that the Am7 guitar chord is the ii7 chord in this key.
American Pie (g d/f# em – am7 D – g d/f# em – C D7 – G) key of G
The next song is from the classic rendition of “Killing Me Softly With His Song” by The Fugees. Again, key of G major, but the song starts on the vi instead. Note that this is only the first four bars of the song, and the next four differ slightly from this set of chords.
Killing Me Softly (Em7 – Am7 – D – G) key of G
Here’s a song that most of you know for sure! This is one of the best riffs you can possibly learn the Am7 guitar chord with. Note again that this is just the chords, but the entire riff comes from these shapes.
More Than Words (G G/B Cadd9 Am7 C D)
Then finally we have the later part of the verse of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by The Beach Boys. This is probably one of the best and most beautiful uses of this harmony I can show you here. This time the progression is in C major, which makes the Am7 guitar chord the vi7.
Wouldn’t It Be Nice (Am7 C11 Am Em Dm7 G9) key of C Major
Take some time to learn these songs as they will help you learn how to get good at guitar chords like these! Another song to learn that uses this shape and others of Am7 is the sweet caroline guitar chords.
The Relationship Between The A Minor Pentatonic Scale And Am7 Guitar Chords
Now if you’re a lead guitar player like me, you may want to know how to solo over this chord, as well as use the sounds of this chord shape in your improvising. Thankfully there’s a very easy way to use this chord’s sound in a scale form. The minor pentatonic scale that you use all the time has all the chord tones of this scale, and I’ll show you how right now!
Am7 guitar chord notes = A – C – E – G
A minor pentatonic scale = A – C – D – E – G
A Minor Scale = A – B – C – D – E – F – G
The minor scale is there just for reference. So, if you take a close look at the composition of these three musical concepts, you can easily say that minor 7th chords are one of the key sounds of blues, rock, and metal music! Although you won’t be playing Am7 guitar chords throughout a thrash metal riff, the notes do imply this sort of harmony.
This is a neat thing to mention IMO because we’re all trying to figure out the relationships between riffs, scales, chord tones, etc. to each other and little bits of knowledge help us systemize the whole thing.
The Basics Of ii-V Changes
The ii-V change in a major key is the bedrock to lots of Jazz chord progressions, and thus the source of many pop song chord progressions too. Since you’ve seen how much the ii7 is used in G major, we figured it would be worth explaining this concept a little bit. Now Jazz can get VERY complicated so let’s just break down the G major key, as well as a few chords to layout an ii7 – V – I progression.
G Major scale (key) = G – A – B – C – D – E – F#
Am7 (ii) = A – C – E – G
D (V) = D – F# – A
G (I) = G – B – D
So there you go. If you decide to get into Jazz, you’ll now know where lots of m7 to dominant 7th chord changes are coming from. Many Jazz progressions are composed of series of ii-V changes going through many keys!
Let’s go over just one more song to explain this concept, as well as see the Am7 chord shape used in another context. Here are the chords to Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” but note that this song is in A major, not G major.
Bm7 – D – F#m7 – E
Here’s the same chord progression, but lower down the neck, and using the Am7 guitar chord shape……
Lots of funk and R&B riffs make use of the ii-V, as well as the chords in the Dorian mode, to make riffs like this one. You may already know how often the Dorian mode is used in Jazz. So to tie this all together, let’s break down the B Dorian Mode:
B Dorian Mode = B – C# – D – E – F# – G# – A
A Major (B starts on ii) = A – B – C# – D – E – F# – G#
Bm7 = B – D – F#
D = D – F# – A
F#m7 = F# – A – C# – E
E = E – G# – B
I know this may be a random jumble of notes and letters to you right now if you don’t know much about the key of am guitar. Theory is not the easiest subject to teach to a guitar player, and it’s hard to see how this makes you a better player if you’re just starting out. This whole discussion has been to show you 1) the shapes of the Am7 guitar chord 2) an easy scale you already know that makes the sound of this chord and 3) how it’s the source of an entire genre and many funk riffs you know.
This video is another great resource on the am7 guitar chord:
Any questions about this material? Then please leave a comment down below!