I've been working on my finger picking lately (learned Stairway to Heaven up until the solos) and was going to tackle this classic song next. I get to the 2nd chord of the song and I'm already stuck though. All the tabs I found say it's a F#7 with this fingering:

x 9 8 9 7 9

It does sound right, but how do you play 5 notes with 4 fingers (and no potential for barring any of them)? Any help would be appreciated.
I don't know if it's just me but I can't see any actual way of fingering that using standard techniques. There's a couple of ways of using your thumb to hit all 5 notes that I can see but I really don't think it's meant to be actually fingered that way.

For example this cover has the guitar in that part with a capo on the 7th fret:


As does this actual version:


Notice that in both of those videos the guitarist for that part is playing a double-neck so they can play the harmonies properly as well.

For you purposes it's quite possible to play that chord without the 7th fret on the B string; it's another F# note so it doesn't actually add any harmonic information to the chord. I don't know the song too well though so I don't know if that note is vital to the part or anything. It's a way to look at it though.
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The only way I can get that particular chord to work is by barring the two notes on the 7th and 8th frets with my first finger, like this -

Then you can finger the rest of the chord like in the picture below. It's a little tricky to do at first, but with some practice it does work. Like the post above says though, I'm not sure they used this chord/fingering in the song - it's probably capo'd.

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Last edited by Carl6661 at Apr 27, 2015,
If you play it as a slow arpeggio as in the opening bars of the second vid, you can do it by using x9897x and the basic chord and moving your finger (pinky) from the 3rd to the 1st string, or by using x98x79 as the basic chord and moving your (ring) finger from the 5th to the 3rd string. I was a bit clumsy at it, but I think it would be OK with practice.
Last edited by Tony Done at Apr 27, 2015,
Iam kinda learning this song I got a capo, but iam useing the capo at the 2 fret
Don Henley looks like that painter bob Ross in this video lol

Carl thanks for that tip holding the 2 notes with the same finger
There an excellent YouTube video of Don Felder (who wrote/created Hotel California) showing how he plays the chords.
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Thanks! For some reason I didn't even think of using a capo (the tab I was looking at didn't mention one), but looking at the notes and chords being played I don't think there's anything below the 7th fret so that would definitely be the easiest way to play it. Interesting that he plays it with a 5th fret capo live as well (to be able to sing it more easily).

Thanks for the tip of barring 2 different frets with one finger too. I probably won't use it for this song but it may come in useful in the future.