Having already looked at ‘open’ chords and their simple shapes, it’s time to move towards some harder to grasp, rarer chords that are known as the ‘black notes’ on a piano.
In this important guide, I’ll be taking you through a huge number of variants of the F#/Gb chord:
If you’re looking for a place to start with F#/Gb chords, then look no further…
F Sharp Guitar Chord
Every major scale has the same theory behind it, building on a pattern of tones between the notes: 1-1-1/2-1-1-1-1/2. On a piano, the ‘1’ means that if you’re starting on the C, then there will be one note (Eb in this case) between your C and the next note of the scale (D), while the 1/2 means that the next note of the scale is directly next door (such as in the move from E-F in C major). On a guitar, the 1/2 means the next fret is in the scale, and the 1 means there will be a fret in between the two notes.
F# major: F#, G#, A#, B, C#, D#, E#
Gb major: Gb, Ab, Bb, Cb, Db, Eb, F
You may have noticed that we’re looking at two scales here. Sort of… Technically a F# and a Gb are exactly the same, they just appear in different contexts. Hence is why if you take a look at the scales above, each note is the enharmonic equivalent of each other, so if you played an F# major scale out of context, it would be completely impossible to determine whether it was F# or Gb.
For example, in a key with flattened notes, then you’ll (normally) be playing a Gb if you need to use that note, but in a key with sharps, then it’ll (normally) be a F#. F# is much more common than Gb, so we’ll approach most of the chords below from the F# perspective.
Each of these notes (degrees of the scale) can be assigned a number as it ascends so you can use a helpful formula to work out chords from it. The F# is a 1, the G# is a 2 etc. while for Gb major, the Gb is a 1, the Ab is a 2 etc.
Once you’re familiar with the scale, you’ll do well to remember that the formula for an F# major chord (and any tonic major chord of any key) is 1-3-5 which gives the notes F#-A#-C# while the formula for a Gb major chord is 1-3-5 which gives the notes Gb-Bb-Db.
Within the key of F#/Gb major, you can make various chord sequences and work them out using this numbering system, but remember that F#/Gb major is your tonic, and is where the key will sound resolved and at home.
Songs That Use F#/Gb Major Chords
There isn’t much point in choosing to play a F#/Gb chord specifically (unless it’s to house a singer’s range etc.) as the actual note isn’t really going to change the sound of the chord, just the pitch. However, the way you play your chord is important and will determine which styles each variation should be used in.
- The Eagles- Hotel California
- The Cranberries- Zombie
- Jason Mraz- I’m Yours
- John Mayer- Free Fallin’
- June Carter Cash- Juke Box Blues
- Dolly Parton- 9 To 5
- Madonna- Like A Virgin
- Four Year Strong- Ironic
- Martin Smith- Grace
- Sigrid- High Five
- Kate Bush- Wuthering Heights
- Kaiser Chiefs- Ruby
- Richard Hawley- Darlin’
- I Am Kloot- Radiation
Playing F#/Gb Major
As you’ll have seen in various other guides on BeginnerGuitarHQ (such as C#/Db), we can always combine the classic E major open chord shape with a barre on any fret to bring the shape up. As this one is pretty low down the neck, it works well with open chord sequences on an acoustic guitar.
You’ll want to barre the 2nd fret using your 2nd finger, then bring your 4th finger over to the 4th fret of string 5, your 5th finger to the 4th fret of the 4th string and then your 3rd finger to the 3rd fret of the 3rd string.
Similarly to the above, we can also move our A major shape up a fair few frets with an added barre to create a nice well rounded shape. As this one is so much higher on the neck, it’ll work a lot between when combined with other similarly high barre chords.
Barre the 9th fret using your 2nd finger, then you have two options: either press your entire 4th finger across the 11th fret of strings 2, 3 and 4, or if you haven’t built up the strength for that yet, then use fingers 3, 4 and 5 to press fret 11 of strings 4, 3 and 2 respectively.
This variation of F# major is probably my personal favourite as it gives a nice spread of notes all across over an octave. This one will work well with a clean, shimmering electric guitar tone.
Create a small barre that covers the 6th fret of strings 1,2 and 3, then use your 3rd finger to press down on the 7th fret of string 2, your 4th finger to press the 8th fret of string 4 and your 5th finger to stretch over to fret 9 of string 5.
This version is actually quite rare as it is a bit of a stretch, especially as it forms the same general shape as an open G major chord, which is actually quite hard to do without the benefit of having the low open strings.
Essentially, barre the 11th fret as fully as possible, focusing on strings 2, 3 and 4, before placing your 5th finger on fret 14 of the 1st string, then bring your 3rd finger over to the 13th fret of string 5 and your 4th finger to fret 14 of string 6.
F Sharp Minor Guitar Chord
A minor scale differs slightly from a major scale in that degrees 3, 6 and 7 are all flattened, so they are lowered by one semitone. This creates the F#/Gb natural minor scale (variants such as the harmonic and melodic minor will be looked at in a separate guide).
F# minor: F#, G#, A, B, C#, D, E
Gb minor- Gb, Ab, Bbb, Cb, Db, Ebb, Fb
We could apply numbers to these much like we did with the major scale, so a minor chord would still be 1-3-5, like the major. But this is a bit confusing, so let’s approach it from the context of the major scale.
An F# minor chord is 1-b3-5, so therefore made up of the notes F#-A-C#, while a Gb minor chord is Gb-Bbb-Db.
As shown, F# minor only has 3 sharps, which makes it quite a common key; certainly much more common than the double flat filled Gb.
Songs That Use F#/Gb Minor
Again, rarely does a song seek to use the F#/Gb note specifically, but rather the minor chord itself. Whether it is as part of the key and therefore makes sense, or to bring out its sadder sound than a major chord, a minor chord is something important throughout all music.
- Michael Jackson- Billie Jean
- Joshua James- FM Radio
- Europe- The Final Countdown
- Queen- Love Of My Life
- Toto- Africa
- Pink Floyd- Time
- Nirvana- Come As You Are
- Disturbed- The Sound Of Silence
- MGMT- Kids
- Ed Sheeran- Shape Of You
- Eric Clapton- Tears In Heaven
- The Beatles- In My Life
Playing F#/Gb Minor
As with the major variations shown above, the F#m chord is able to replicate the E minor open shape using a barre to bring it up a couple of frets. Again, this one will be easy to use in conjunction with lower, open chords.
Barre the 2nd fret all the way across, then use your 4th and 5th fingers to press down on the 4th fret of strings 4 and 5. Make sure your barre is strong enough to bring out the 2nd fret of string 3 as that provides the minor 3rd.
Again, we can move a nice variation of the A minor shape up by a lot of frets in order to get another nice new version of the F# minor chord. This one will work well when you’re already playing barre chords in a similar position.
Use your 2nd finger to barre the 9th fret, then press your 3rd finger on to the 10th fret of string 2, your 5th finger onto the 11th fret of string 3 and your 4th finger onto the 11th fret of string 4.
This version is a nice easy one that you be may be familiar with thanks to a nice easy version of F major that exists just one fret down. While not technically an open chord, the easy shape and low position of this variation makes this an easy one for beginners.
Use your 2nd finger to barre the 2nd fret of strings 1, 2 and 3, and then bring your 4th finger over so that it is pressing down on the 4th fret of the 4th string.
Both slightly harder and slightly rarer, this variation is actually a nice benefit as it gives such a stretch of notes that make your chord sound fuller and wider. It won’t serve you well if you’re playing with a lot of overdrive, but a clear tone would benefit from this variation if you can pull it off.
Press your 2nd finger on to the 4th fret of string 4, then bring your 3rd finger back to the first string and press down on fret 5. Then take your 4th finger on put it on the 6th fret of string 3 and your 5th finger on 7th fret of the 2nd string.
F Sharp 7 Guitar Chord
An F#7/Gb7 chord, or F#/Gb dominant 7, is a major chord with an added minor 7th. This creates an interval of a tritone within the chord, adding a laying of dissonance to the sound. In a lot of music, the F#/Gb7 is used as part of a perfect cadence, in order to resolve to the tonic. However, one of the primary uses of the dominant 7th in modern music, is as a part of jazzy chord sequences.
If we use major scale theory (which we would unless you’re delving into the realm of modality where this chord has a strong Mixolydian quality) then the formula for this chord is 1-3-5-b7. The b7 takes the E# of a F# major scale down to a regular E, or the F of a Gb major scale down to an Fb.
This means that the notes in a F#7 chord are F#-A#-C#-E, while the Gb7 chord is made up of the notes Gb-Bb-Db-Fb.
Songs That Use F#/Gb7
F#7 chords are very common in popular music, as they’re both a key that lends itself quite well to guitar, and aren’t too distant from the very common E minor key. The use of the dominant 7th gives a distinctive dissonance that allows the chord to be use in poignant parts of slower songs, while fit into jazzy, faster numbers.
- The Beatles- Penny Lane
- Frank Sinatra- The Girl From Ipanema
- Michael Jackson- Thriller
- Radiohead- Karma Police
- Elvis Presley- Guitar Man
- Tame Impala- Patience
- XTC- Say It
- The Easybeats- Good Times
For some reason, this variation of F#7 rarely pops into my head, but it technically qualifies as an open chord due to the 7th note ringing out above it. It’s actually a really easy development upon the Fmaj7 shape you probably already know.
Simply leave the 1st string open and audible, then press your 2nd, 3rd and 4th fingers on frets 2, 3 and 4 of strings 2, 3 and 4 respectively. Simple!
This is probably the most common way you’ll see F#7 approached, as it is a slight develop on a very common barre chord shape that we’ve already looked at. In fact, it just takes the E7 shape and brings it up two frets.
Use your 2nd to barre the 2nd fret, then bring your 4th finger over to fret 4 of the 5th string, and bring your 3rd finger to the 3rd fret of the 3rd string. Make sure you’re pressing down hard enough to bring out the 2nd fret of the 4th string as this is your 7th.
This one is very high on the neck, so don’t worry if you can’t bring out every note (just go for one of the variations above). In fact, it’s pretty unlikely that this variation will even be possible on an acoustic guitar, but a nice trebly electric will lend itself to a funky sound here.
Press your 2nd finger across the 16th fret (but make sure string 6 is muted), then bring your 3rd finger to fret 17 of string 2, your 4th finger to fret 18 of string 3 and your 5th finger to fret 18 of string 1.
F Sharp Major 7 Guitar Chord
An F#/Ebmaj7 chord is simply a major chord with a major 7th attached to the top. This often gives it a very uplifting sound, but there is an underlying dissonance due to the major 7th interval.
If we look at it from the point of view of the major scale algorithm, then the chord outlines a pattern of 1-3-5-7.
This means that the notes in an F#maj7 chord are F#-A#-C#-E#, while an Gbmaj7 chord is made up of Gb-Bb-Db-F.
Songs That Use F#/Gbmaj7
E#maj7 is a good one when used in many contexts due to its ability to slot well into jazz and pop styles. Soul music also finds itself with a lot of maj7 chords chucked in throughout.
- Eggstone- Water
- Crumb- Locket
- Bombay Bicycle Club- Home By Now
- Daniel Caesar- Blessed
- TLC- Diggin’ On You
- Duffy- Endlessly
- H.E.R- Lights On
- Prince- Condition Of The Heart
This is my favourite way to play any version of any F# chord, as it creates such a shimmering sound, while being surprisingly easy to play and move towards/from.
Press your 2nd finger onto the 1st fret of string 1, your 3rd finger onto the 2nd fret of string 2, your 4th finger onto the 3rd fret of string 3 and your 5th finger onto the 4th fret of the 4th string. Make sure the lowest two strings remain muted.
Then again, this variation is pretty cool too. It brings an Amaj7 open shape all the way up the neck by adding a barre underneath it.
Barre the 9th fret (but mute string 6), then press your 4th finger onto the 11th fret of string 4, your 3rd finger onto the 10th fret of string 3 and your 5th finger onto the 11th fret of string 2.
This is another pretty easy one that basically extends the F# minor shape with a bit of a bigger stretch that may hard for some beginners to pull off, but give it a go as this is another one that gives a nice wide octave range.
Use your 2nd finger to barre fret 6 of strings 1, 2 and 3, then stretch your 5th finger all the way over to the 9th fret of string 5 and your 4th finger to the 8th fret of string 4.
F Sharp Minor 7 Guitar Chord
The F#/Gbm7 chord (F# minor 7) is based on a minor chord with a minor 7th above. It’s sort of the sadder version of the major 7th chord, giving off more of a negative sound due to the minor 3rd, but less dissonance due to the minor 7th interval instead of the major 7th.
If we look at it using the major scale formula, then it follows a pattern of 1-b3-5-b7.
This means that the notes in a F#m7 chord are F#-A-C#-E, while a Gbm7 is made up of the notes Gb-Bbb-Db-Fb.
Songs That Use F#/Gbm7
Similarly to F#maj7/Gbmaj7, F#m7/Gbm7 can fit nicely into a lot of jazz music due its 7th interval, but equally it appears a lot in popular music styles as despite its dissonance, it has a pleasant tone.
- Michael Jackson- Billie Jean
- Oasis- Wonderwall
- Boy Pablo- Sick Feeling
- The Eagles- New Kid In Town
- Earth, Wind and Fire- September
- Jamiroquai- Cosmic Girl
- John Legend- Stay With You
- David Bowie- The Motel
- Jack Jones- Lollipops And Roses
- Daniel Caesar- Transform
Like the major 7th equivalent shown above, we can bring an open A minor shape up a fair few frets and be left with quite an easy barred version of F#m7 that will appear a lot in many songs.
Barre the 9th fret using your 2nd finger, then bring your 4th finger to the 11th fret of string 4 and your 3rd finger to the 10th fret of string 2. Make sure you’re pressing down hard enough on the 9th fret of string 3 in order to bring the minor 7th interval out fully.
This one is another one that will provide a big, detailed range of notes that’ll work well on a very clean tone. Again, it isn’t going to work well with a lot of overdrive as it can get a bit muddy, but the spread will work really well elsewhere.
Press your 2nd finger down on the 4th fret of the 4th string, then your 5th finger onto the 6th fret of the 3rd string, your 3rd finger on the 5th fret of the 2nd string and your 4th finger on the 5th fret of string 1.
This is probably your easy option, but it does put the minor 7th interval at the bottom of the chord, which is a bit odd… but still this bridge shape is really good for funky playing.
Use your 2nd finger to barre fret 2 of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th strings.
Other F#/Gb Chords
There are a lot of other types of chords you can use based around your F#/Eb tonic. The ones I’ve shown you so far are probably the most common you’ll come across, particularly major and minor.
- F#add13 is simply an F# major chord with the 13th degree added (aka the 6th up an octave) so the notes involved are F#-A#-C#-D#.
- Gb7b9 creates a classic, funky, jazzy sound that you’ll have heard many times. It is made up of a GB dominant 7th chord, but then the b9 adds a Phrygian, chromatic feel: Gb-Bb-Db-E-Abb.
- F#sus2 takes the 3rd away from the chord and creates an ambiguity in its major/minor nature. Therefore, the notes in this chord are F#-G#-C#.
There are obviously a lot more chords than this, but these are a few I really like. I have a few tricks to bear in mind when working out chords yourself.
- If you’re in an alternate tuning, remember these explanations won’t be the same!
- Using a formula to work out what notes are in a chord is a really simple way to help you out.
- When building chords that are hard to voice, the 5th is the first degree of the chord you are able to drop. Never drop the root, because that will normally completely change the chord you’re playing. For example, dropping the Eb from a Ebm7 chord just makes Gb major…
Cheanné Lombard lives in the home of one of the new Seven World Wonders, Cape Town, South Africa. She can’t go a day without listening to or making music.
Her love of music started when her grandparents gave her a guitar. It was a smaller version of the full-sized guitars fit for her little hands. Later came a keyboard and a few years after that, a beautiful dreadnought guitar and a violin too. While she is self-taught when it comes to the guitar, she had piano lessons as a child and is now taking violin lessons as an adult.
She has been playing guitar for over 15 years and enjoys a good jam session with her husband, also an avid guitarist. In fact, the way he played those jazzy, bluesy numbers that kindled the fire in her punk rock heart. Now she explores a variety of genres and plays in the church worship group too and with whoever else is up for a jam session.