The E Minor 7 (Em7) chord is a beautiful and versatile chord that’s widely used in various musical genres. It’s a chord that adds depth and complexity to your music, and learning how to play it can open up new avenues in your guitar playing.
In this post, we are going to discuss the EM7 chord in detail, including its structure, and different ways to play it. So, without further ado, let’s get started.
What is the Em7 Guitar Chord?
The Em7 chord is composed of four notes: E (Root), G (Minor 3rd), B (Perfect 5th), and D (Flattened 7th).
The combination of the minor key and the 7th interval gives it a rich, jazzy feel.
It’s a more sophisticated version of the regular Em chord, and the flattened 7th is what gives this chord its unique sound.
Ways to Play the Em7 Chord
Following are a few ways to play the EM7 Guitar Chord:
The Em7 chord can be played in various positions on the fretboard, each offering a unique sound and texture.
Open Position (Simple Version):
This is a beginner-friendly version of the Em7 chord. Place your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the A (5th) string and strum all six strings.
This simple version is often used in soulful songs like Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On,” providing a rich and resonant sound.
Higher Open Position:
For a slightly different tonal quality, you can play the Em7 chord in a higher open position.
Place your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the D (4th) string, your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the B (2nd) string, and your pinky finger on the 3rd fret of the E (1st) string. Strum four strings down from the D string.
This version has been popularized in songs like “Say Yes” by Elliott Smith.
For a fuller sound, you can use the 6-string version of the Em7 chord.
Place your index finger on the 2nd fret of the A (5th) string, your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the D (4th) string, your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the B (2nd) string, and your pinky finger on the 3rd fret of the E (1st) string.
Strum all six strings. This version is famously used in Oasis’s “Live Forever,” adding depth to the song’s progression.
7th Fret Version:
For a more chimey sound, you can play the Em7 chord at the 7th fret. Barre the first through fifth strings with your first finger on the 7th fret, place your 3rd finger on the 4th string 9th fret, and your 2nd finger on the 2nd string 8th fret. This version, played up on the 7th fret, offers a bright and vibrant tone.
1 Finger Shape (Easy Version):
For beginners or those looking for a simple way to play the Em7 chord, you can use just one finger. Place your 1st finger on the 2nd fret of the A string (5th string) and strum all the strings. This is the easiest way to play the Em7 chord and still provides a beautiful sound.
Em7 Barre Shape (12th Fret)I :
For a more advanced version, you can play the Em7 chord as a barre shape on the 12th fret. Barre over all the strings on the 12th fret and place your 3rd finger on the 14th fret of the A string (5th string). Strum all the strings for a rich and resonant sound.
Em7 (Gm7 Shape):
This version requires placing your 1st finger on the 12th fret of the low E string (6th string), your 2nd finger on the 12th fret of the D string (4th string), your 3rd finger on the 12th fret of the G string (3rd string), and your 4th finger on the 12th fret of the B string (2nd string). It offers a jazzy feel and is great for experimental playing.
Em7 (Cm7 Shape):
This version is based on the Cm7 shape and requires placing your 2nd finger on the 7th fret of the A string (5th string), your 1st finger on the 5th fret of the D string (4th string), your 3rd finger on the 7th fret of the G string (3rd string), and your 4th finger on the 8th fret of the B string (2nd string). It’s a bit of a stretch but offers a unique and appealing sound.
Each of these variations of the Em7 chord offers a unique flavor and can be used to add depth and variety to your playing.
Experimenting with these different positions will not only enhance your technical skills but also enrich your musical expression.
Whether you’re playing jazz, blues, rock, or pop, the Em7 chord offers a versatile and beautiful addition to your guitar repertoire.
When to Use the Em7 Chord
The Em7 chord can be used in place of the regular Em chord to add a jazzy feel to your music.
It’s commonly found in songs across various genres, and you can use any of the chord voicings from this guide to replace an Em chord in a song.
How to Practice the EM7 Chord?
Following are some ways to practice the EM7 Chord:
Squeeze Your Hand After Playing the Chord Correctly:
Engage your muscle memory by squeezing your fretting hand five times after playing the chord correctly.
Play Without Looking:
Try to play the chord without looking at your fretting hands.
Use Em7 Instead of Em:
Whenever you see an Em chord in a song, use an Em7 chord to spice it up.
Practice Moving Between Each Em7 Chord:
Start from the lowest chord and ascend to the highest chord on the fretboard, practicing them in different orders.
For a visual representation, We encourage you to play the video below:
When to Use the Em7 Chord
The Em7 chord is a staple in jazz and blues music. Its rich and complex sound adds depth and sophistication to chord progressions. Jazz musicians often use the Em7 chord as a ii chord in a ii-V-I progression, one of the most common chord progressions in jazz.
The Em7 chord is also prevalent in pop and rock music. Its versatile sound makes it a great choice for adding flavor to a song.
For example, the Em7 chord is used in the iconic song “Wonderwall” by Oasis, where it adds a unique color to the chord progression.
You can use the Em7 chord as a substitute for the regular Em chord in many songs. By adding the flattened 7th note (D), the Em7 chord provides a more textured and nuanced sound.
This substitution can breathe new life into familiar songs and make your playing sound more sophisticated.
The Em7 chord is a versatile and beautiful chord that can add depth and complexity to your music.
By learning the different ways to play this chord and incorporating it into your playing, you can enhance your musical expression and creativity.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced guitarist, mastering the Em7 chord can be a rewarding addition to your musical toolbox.
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Marko is a passionate composer, producer, and multimedia artist with a Master of Music degree. His career involves performing, creating, and producing his own music in his home studio using digital and analogue equipment. Marko is a multi-instrumentalist (he plays guitar, bass, piano, theremin, and other instruments). performs live acts and DJ sets, and works on feature and short films, documentaries, festivals, theaters, and government initiatives.