In this lesson I am going to show you 9 ways for how to play the Em7 chord on guitar.  
You'll discover various voicing for open position, Em7 bar chords, as well as a few other more exotic voicings. Not only that, toward the end of the lesson we'll go over some music theory and discover what the 7 means, what keys use the E minor 7 and a few popular songs that use the chord!

What is the Em7 chord on Guitar?

The Em7 chord is a slight variation of the Em chord and in some cases it's actually easier to play! Think of like an Em chord with a little bit of spice. 

Em7 Easy Guitar Chord

Em7/D 

To play the Em7 in the easiest way possible, all you need to do is strum strings 1, 2, 3, & 4! Serious that is it!!

Because the D note is in the bass this will be considered a slash chord and is written as Em7/D. 

Ok ok, I know that's too easy for you... Let's check out the next way to play the Em7


Not sure on how to read a chord diagram or want to learn more chords? Click here

To play the Em7 in open position place your 2nd finger (middle) on the 5th string 5th fret. That's it! Then just strum all the strings!

Because this is a substitution for the Em chord it's recommended that you keep the same fingerings that you would use if playing the Em chord. This is why I recommend you use your 2nd finger and not your 1st. 

Because this chord uses a lot of open strings it may sound a bit "muddy." To solve this musicians often use arpeggios which means you fret the chord at normal then play the notes of the chord one at a time. 

Em7/B Guitar Chord

Out of all the E minor 7 chords on this page I think this one is the hardest due to having to stretch your 2nd and 3rd fingers. To fret this version of the Em7 chord on your guitar place your 2nd finger on 4th string 2nd fret and your 3rd finger on 2nd string 3rd fret. Then place your 1st finger on the 5th string 2nd fret and your 4th finger on the 1st string 3rd fret. 

The order above was critical. Place fingers 2 & 3 first and the others will follow

Em7/A Guitar Chord

This chord is used in Stairway To Heaven by Led Zepplin and has a pretty sound to it. You'll fret it similar to the G chord which is 4th finger on the 1st string 3rd fret, 3rd finger on the 2nd string 3rd fret and then your 1st finger on the 4th string 2nd fret.

Strum from the 5th string down. 

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Em7 Guitar Chord Tips

The 1st tip to learning the Em7 chord is to get it memorize and trust your picking hand. If you are constantly trying to remember the chord or having to look back and forth between your picking and fret hand progress will be a slow and painful process. 

The 2nd tip is to to make sure your thumb is behind your first and second fingers. You don't want your thumb on the outside of your index finger as this will cause your hand to not be able to stretch or work properly.

 
The 3rd tip is for bar chords. When playing bar chords and your index finger (1st finger) needs to do execute the bar you want to apply pressure to the side of your finger. If you squeeze directly in your finger will bend and the strings on your knuckles wont ring out!

Em7 Bar Chord 

Now we are going to move on to bar chords and you are going to learn how to play the Em bar chord properly. I am going to guide you through different variations of the Em7 bar chord with easy variation getting progressively harder. 

Just so we are clear, when you use one finger to press multiple strings this is called a  bar chord or sometimes spelled barre chord. 

This Em7 chord is just like the open position but we are going to play it an octave up on the fretboard at the 12th fret.  If you are playing a chord progression and the chords are higher up the neck, playing the Em7 in open position will sound bad because of the drastic change in pitch. 

To fret this position, simply place your 1st finger (index) on 4th string 12th fret and lay (bar) it across strings 1 2 3 & 4. 

Be sure you thumb is behind your 1st finger. You never want it on the outside of your index finger. 

Just like above, we can add in another finger in this position and get a slightly different variation. This will be a bit more tricky as now you'll be barring across all 6 strings while also using another finger. 

To play this variation place your 1st finger on the 6th string 12th fret and 3rd finger on the 5th string 14th fret. Then lay your index finger down across all the strings and press to the side. 

I like to use my 2nd finger to help the 1st finger press to the side. 

Em7 Guitar chord

Continued

In this position, I want you to navigate to the 7th fret on your guitar.

There are 2 ways to look at this one. Just play the Em bar chord in this position but lift remove your pinky and wallah! 

If that is confusing, here's the breakdown. 
Place your 1st finger on 5th string 7th fret, your 3 ring finger on 4th string 9th fret, and your 2nd finger on 2nd string 8th fret. Then as you squeeze down on the guitar make sure your 1st finger pushes slightly to the side. 

Your thumb should be splitting the difference in your hand or your hand wont stretch!

A slight various of Em7 in this position that sounds pretty cool is played the same way but use your 4th finger and play the 1st string 10th fret. This adds a bit of top end to the chord. 

In this last variation of the Em7 chord is not a bar chord but I saved it for last because it's not as common and is a bit harder than the other versions. 

To fret this place your 2nd finger on the 2nd string 3rd fret, your 3rd finger on the 1st string 3rd fret, then place your 1st finger on the 4th string 2nd fret and your 4th finger on the 3rd string 4th fret. 

If you play this position everyone will know you mean business!

Now you know how to play the Em7 guitar chord! 👊
Scratch that, you are a Em7 chord pro as you know a lot of ways to play the Em7 guitar chord!

Easy Songs That Use The Em7 Guitar Chord

Led Zepplin - Stairway To Heaven
Oasis - Wonderwall
Lady Gaga - Shallow

Em7 Guitar Chord Progression

Here's a few chord progressions that sound great that use the Em7 chord. Feel free to change up the orders, and the chord variations and experiment with the sounds!

C  - Em7 - F - G  
C#m - D - F#m - E 

F#m - Em7 - A - D

Em7 - D - C - D
Bm - A - Em7 - A
Bm - Em7 - A - D

If you need help learning these other chords, click here

What Keys Have Em7 Guitar Chord? 

Major keys that use a Em7 chord:
Key of C Major
Key of G Major
Key of D Major

Minor keys that use a Em7 chord:
Key of A Minor
Key of E Minor
Key of B Minor

What Are The Notes Of An Em7 Chord?

An Em7 chord or E minor 7 chord consists of 4 notes that are derived from the Em minor scale.
E   F#   G   A   B   C   D

When you number the notes of a scale they are called SCALE DEGREES. So to make a E minor chord we need the 1st, 3rd and 5th "degrees."

1       2       b3      4        5       b6     b7 
E      F#      G       A       B       C       D

All minor 7th chords use the 1, b3, 5, & b7 notes of a their corresponding scale. 

When these 4notes are being played harmonically (played at the same time) you are playing a Em7 chord.

Now you may be wondering, why did you add a "b" (flat) to the 3, 6, and 7? This is beyond the scope of this lesson but for simplicity sake, all minor scales have the 3rd, 6th, and 7th notes lowered down a half step.  We'll have other lessons where we'll go in-depth on this. For now lets just stick to learn the Em7 chord. 

Now, notice from the chord diagrams, ONLY the notes E, G,  B, & D  are being used?  If you have another note such as an A note or a F# note it is no longer an E minor 7 chord!

That being said, you can have multiple E, G, B, or D notes as show in the chord diagrams. Try playing the chords but only strum a few of the notes. Notice the chord will sound "thin" if there are only one of each note. By adding in more of the same notes you make the chord have more depth. You may even think of it as a darker or lighter shade of the same color.

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