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How to play the Ab7 chord on guitar

Learn to play the jazzy Ab7 chord, featured in songs like "Fly Me to the Moon."

The Ab7 chord

The Ab7 chord, pronounced "A flat dominant seventh," is a rich and bluesy chord commonly used in jazz, blues, and R&B music. It consists of the notes Ab, C, Eb, and Gb, creating a harmonically complex sound. The Ab7 chord adds a distinctive flavor to progressions and is notably featured in songs like "Stormy Monday" by T-Bone Walker and "Thrill Is Gone" by B.B. King.

There are many ways to play a chord. Here's a diagram for the most common Ab7 chord. We've also included other versions below.

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Finger placement for Ab7 chord

The Ab7 chord is typically played as a barre chord on the 4th fret of the guitar.

Follow these finger positions to play a Ab7 chord on your guitar:

  1. Place your index finger across all six strings at the 4th fret, creating a barre.
  2. Place your ring finger on the 6th fret of the 5th (A) string.
  3. Place your pinky finger on the 6th fret of the 4th (D) string.

To strum this chord, use your pick or thumb to play downstrokes or a combination of downstrokes and upstrokes across all six strings. Make sure to apply enough pressure with your index finger to properly fret all the strings.

How to play an easy Ab7 chord on guitar

If you're a beginner looking to play a simpler version of the Ab7 chord, try playing an Ab7 "shell voicing" instead. Place your first finger on the 4th fret of the low E string, your second finger on the 4th fret of the D string, and strum only those two strings together.

How to play a Ab7 bar chord

The Ab7 barre chord is a useful alternative to the standard Ab7 chord, as it allows for greater versatility and can be easily moved up and down the fretboard to play the same chord shape in different keys.

Here's how to play an Ab7 barre chord:

  1. Place your index finger across the 4th fret, covering all six strings (barre).
  2. Place your middle finger on the 5th fret of the 3rd (G) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 6th fret of the 5th (A) string.
  4. Place your pinky finger on the 6th fret of the 4th (D) string.
  5. Strum all six strings from the low E string to the high E string.

Common Ab7 chord progressions

The Ab7 chord often serves as a dominant chord in progressions, creating tension and a strong pull towards resolution to the tonic. These progressions frequently evoke a bluesy, jazzy, or soulful feel. Some common Ab7 chord progressions include:

  • I7 - IV7 - I7 - V7 - IV7 - I7 - V7 - I7 (Ab7 - Db7 - Ab7 - Eb7 - Db7 - Ab7 - Eb7 - Ab7) Used in "Hound Dog" and "Jailhouse Rock"
  • I7 - IV7 - I7 (Ab7 - Db7 - Ab7) Used in "Every Day I Have the Blues" and "Sweet Home Chicago"
  • ii7 - V7 - I7 (Bbm7 - Eb7 - Ab7)
  • iii7 - VI7 - ii7 - V7 (Cm7 - F7 - Bbm7 - Eb7)
  • I7 - VI7 - ii7 - V7 (Ab7 - F7 - Bbm7 - Eb7) Used in "All Blues"

Drills to master the Ab7 chord

To master the Ab7 guitar chord, try playing the chord progression Ab7-Db7-Gb7-Cb7. This drill helps your fingers get comfortable with the shape and transitions between similar chords. Focus on maintaining a consistent rhythm and clean sound.

Another effective drill is to practice strumming the Ab7 chord in various rhythmic patterns. Start with simple downstrokes, then progress to alternating between down and upstrokes. Gradually increase the tempo as you become more comfortable with the chord. This exercise will improve your timing and help you incorporate the Ab7 chord seamlessly into your playing.

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Songs that feature the Ab7 chord

Here are 10 popular songs you can play with the Ab7 chord:

  1. I Heard It Through the Grapevine by Marvin Gaye (Ab7, Db7, Bbm7, Eb7)
  2. Will It Go Round in Circles by Billy Preston (Ab7, Db7, Gb7, B7)
  3. Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder (Ab7, Fm7, Bb7, Eb7)
  4. The Thrill Is Gone by B.B. King (Ab7, Db7, Gb7, Cm7, Fm7, Bb7, Eb7)
  5. Shining Star by Earth, Wind & Fire (Ab7, Fm7, Bb7, Eb7)
  6. Ain't No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (Ab7, Db7, Gb7, B7)
  7. Lonely Avenue by Ray Charles (Ab7, Db7, Gb7)
  8. Drown in My Own Tears by Ray Charles (Ab7, Db7, Gb7, B7)
  9. Please Send Me Someone to Love by Percy Mayfield (Ab7, Db7, Gb7, B7)
  10. I Was Made to Love Her by Stevie Wonder (Ab7, Fm7, Bb7, Eb7)

How a guitar teacher can help

If you feel stuck in your playing, it might help to take personalized guitar lessons with an expert guitarist. Taking lessons with a pro gives you access to the skills, feedback, and motivation to reach your goals.

You can find expert guitar teachers to support you in the journey. Thousands of people have turned to online guitar lessons on Til, instead of traditional in-person lessons, because Til gives you access to the best teachers in the world from the comfort of home. And with flexible scheduling, secure payments, lesson recordings, and a private chat with your teacher–there’s never been a better way to learn guitar.

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