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Guitar Lesson: Chords, Am

I will spend practice time just working on a specific key, and finding all the things that fit in terms of chords and scales.

Am chords

A minor (or Am) is another of those guitar-friendly keys and widely used in rock guitar songs and also Spanish or Spanish -influenced flamenco pieces. Some examples would be Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac, Angie by the Rolling Stones, Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin.

Practice time tip: I will do this on a daily basis, working around one key or chord change and trying out different voicings, also incorporating lead lines into chord changes. For instance, the two note chord motif in Rhiannon will also fit dozens of other songs in the same key of Am.

The main reason I'll work with Am a lot is that it is very common, so a lot of mileage can be gained as opposed to using a more specialised key, such as Fm, Ebm, which you might find only in jazz pieces.

The final chord chart shows a few things that will nearly always work in Am blues sequences, or variations such as Ain't No Sunshine.

Two chord progressions are shown on the chart below.

Both these chord progressions are very common in music, and you can adapt them a little in order to play many songs that use the same concepts.

  • Note the use of three note chords. This is definitely the way forward and is explained more fully in some of my other hubs, such as Guitar- advanced and jazz chords.

Chord Progressions - A minor


Progression 1

This is known as a cycle -of -fourths progression - it uses the cycle of fifths diagram, but moving counter-clockwise around parts of the circle. Look up my other hub "Cycle of Fifths" for more info.

It sounds nice, and hopefully you will not only learn some new chords, but also how to use them in context.

Look at the voicings for Dm7 and G7 - three note chords that are easy to get to quickly - you can slide into them from 1 fret below, you can add vibrato. This is a chord form I use all the time. The Fmaj7 shape is basically an Am, with the F played with your thumb.

If you split this progression, the first 4 chords and the last 3 chords are both very common in jazz tunes.

Progression 2

In this chord progression the note on string 4 (D) is moving down chromatically, that is, one semitone or one fret at a time. This gives a smooth and predictable flow to the chords, as in "It's a Fair Way to Devon" - but not exactly the same, as that could result in legal action!

Make a half - barre with first finger, flattened over fret 5, for the first three chords.

Both sequences will work well with C major or Am pentatonic scales - see my hubs on lead guitar and guitar scales for more info.

Am pentatonic is probably the most used scale in rock music. Fret Numbers:

String 1: 8, 5

String 2: 8, 5

Scroll to Continue

Strings 3, 4, 5: 7, 5

String 6: 8, 5

Only 2 patterns per string to remember. String 1 is E, the thinnest and high pitched string.

When the E7 appears, try using A harmonic minor or put a G sharp note in to fit the chord better.

A harmonic minor is A B C D E F G sharp A

It's an instant Spanish-sounding scale, probably with Arabic connections.

Practice tip: I will usually isolate two chords and just repeat them, trying out different voicings. Going from Am to E7 is a good example, and a very easy way to get started. Also, it's a very, very common chord progression that is used in dozens of songs.

Am Blues ideas



Jon Green (author) from Frome, Somerset, UK on October 25, 2009:

Thanks connelly. Treat yourself to a new guitar!

connelly73 from Motherwell, Scotland on October 25, 2009:

Cheers Jon. Good follow on from the G chord.

Jon Green (author) from Frome, Somerset, UK on October 25, 2009:

Hi Keira - bon voyage to you.

Hi livingsta - your hubs look really interesting, though maybe not for those with a fear of flying!

livingsta from United Kingdom on October 24, 2009:

Good hub for beginners..Thanks for sharing Jon

keira7 on October 24, 2009:

Thank you Jon, from my son and I. I also wanted to let you know that I am going on the trip, so if you do some new hub I will take time to read them when I come back

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