I think that the title speaks for itself. In this guitar lesson, we will be looking at the Cm guitar chord or, the C minor guitar chord if you prefer. This is a chord that gets searched quite a lot so I thought an in-depth C minor chord piece would prove useful for those looking for it, which is in theory, you.
Here, you’ll find a total of 16 Cm guitar chord variations. Some are common and some not so much. This isn’t every possible version of a Cm guitar chord but this list should be more than enough for you but before we dive into the shapes, let’s learn which notes make a C minor chord.
Notes of the C minor guitar chord
This isn’t a music theory lesson so this will be a rather abrupt and direct answer. It is important though. I’ll explain why shortly but let’s look at the notes of the chord first.
The notes that make a Cm guitar chord are C, Eb and G. The C note is our root note, the G is known as the fifth and the Eb (E flat) is the minor third. All basic minor chords are built with a root note, a minor third and a perfect fifth.
Now that you know this, you will be able to check each of the shapes for the correct notes to ensure that you’re performing them correctly. There may be more than one of the notes in some shapes but as long as the notes are Cs, Ebs or Gs, it’s a C minor chord. They may not be in that order either. When this happens, the chords are known as inversions but you don’t need to worry about that for this lesson.
With that out of the way, we can now move onto the exciting part. Let’s dive in.
Cm Guitar Chord 3 Standard Barre Chords
The three barre chords above are perhaps the most obvious way of playing the Cm guitar chord. Which one you use will depend on your location on the fretboard and also the sound you’re looking for as each of the chords has a distinctive sound.
The three shapes are very common due to the fact they’re movable. What I mean by that is that if you were to move these shapes up or down on the fretboard without altering them, you’d get a different minor chord. For example, moving the shapes down a fret gives you a B minor chord and moving the shapes up two frets gives you a D minor chord. This naturally requires some music theory knowledge so this maybe a nice little rabbit hole for some of you to explore. A lot of the shapes (not all) in this lesson are movable in this way but I’m singling out these three because the shapes are so prominent. I’ll let you figure out which of the other shapes are movable too.
As for the shapes themselves, we have a six string barre chord, a five string barre chord and a four string barre chord. The barre is performed with your first finger and the remaining part of the shapes look like an open E minor, A minor and D minor chord respectively.
The two notes at the tenth fret that you see in the six string barre chord are played with the third finger on the A string and the fourth finger on the D string.
As for the five string barre chord, you’ll have your second finger on the B string fourth fret, your third finger on the D string fifth fret and your fourth finger on the same fret but on the G string below.
The four string barre chord which feels like that open D minor chord is the most complex of the three in terms of finger placement but it has the shortest barre. Your second finger sits on the high E string eleventh fret. Your third fingers lives at fret twelve on the G string and finally, you’re fourth finger lives at fret thirteen on the B string.
What? Don’t like barre chords? Read on.
Modifying the Standard Open C major chord
So, it turns out that the first few chords that guitarists learn are usually very similar. Many tend to learn E major, A major, D major, A minor, E minor, D minor, G major, F major and of course, the C major chord. Well at least, these are the first guitar chords that I normally recommend but as you can see, the Cm guitar chord is not on that list. This leads to beginner guitarists searching for how to play the C minor guitar chord perhaps expecting a similar open chord ala A minor and A major.
This often presents a problem because very often, the C minor chord or chords that are recommended are the ones I showed you already. The barre chords and as we know, barre chords are something that many guitar players struggle with so to combat that, how about a nice open C minor guitar chord. One that’s a slight modification of the standard C major chord. Take a look at this.
This chord is very close to the C major. The G string is still played open and the B string first fret is still played giving us a C. We also have the same C played on the A string third fret. The change comes with the minor third (the Eb) as we must lower the E note of the C major by a semitone to change the major chord to a minor one. This means that instead of playing the second fret on the D string, we play the first and also, we don’t play the high E string at all!
We use our fourth finger on the A string, our first finger on the D string and our second finger on the B string. A great alternative to barre chords but in my opinion, this chord is a little too fiddly and I much prefer to simply use that five string barre chord in that area of the neck.
There you have it. An open C minor guitar chord. That’s four in total now but we have a lot more Cm guitar chord variations to look at and we’ll do so in three sets of four which will give us sixteen I’m total.
Cm Guitar Chord Variations Part 3
This batch of C minor chords are all based around fret eight. Well, all of them except that one at the third fret. Anyway. The first one is a small three string bar which is performed with the first finger at fret eight and then the third finger plays the note on the string above at fret ten. The next one does away with the barre and we use fingers three, two and one on the G, B and high E strings at frets five, four and three. Nice and easy. The next one is the same as the first but it’s the barre only. We lose the note played by the third finger making this an inversion. The final chord in this batch is again the same as the first but without the extra high C note played on the high E string which leaves us just with our root, minor third and fifth. You can perform this by slightly altering your barre to mute that high string. Or, you can play it with two fingers instead of one. It’s up to you.
Cm Guitar Chord Variations Part 4
chord but higher up the fretboard and without those open notes that we don’t want. You use just the three strings indicated and you use the same fingers as you would for that standard A minor. The next shape is easy to explain. It’s the same as the six string barre chord from the start of the lesson but we’ve shortened the barre to make it easier. A shape that resembles a standard D minor follows but we get rid of the open D string and perform it higher on the fretboard. Another nice little inversion. Lastly, another inversion that lives high up on the neck. The second finger plays the minor third up at fret thirteen on the D string, the first finger plays G, the fifth at fret twelve and our root is played by the third finger on the B string at fret thirteen. Just one more set of chords to go.
The first Cm chord of the final batch is the same as the second from the previous batch only we aren’t including the high E string. The second shape could also be considered another modification but it’s a neat little three string shape with a G in the bass. That G is played at fret ten of the A string with the third finger. The note below that in this inversion is our root C which is played at fret ten on the D string with our fourth finger and finally, our minor third is played at fret eight of the G string with our first finger. The penultimate Cm guitar chord in this lesson is one that lives high up on the neck. The notes are Eb G C Eb from top to bottom. Our third finger plays the D string, our second finger plays the G string, our fourth finger plays the B string and our first finger plays the high E string. Our final shape takes us back down to the lower part of the fretboard. This shape is the same as a three note shape we saw earlier but with an extra G in the bass. Our third finger plays that bass note that lives on the D string and our fourth, second and first fingers fret the notes on the G, B and E strings respectively which are C, Eb and g.
That concludes our exploration into the Cm guitar and its different variations. I think 16 different ways to play a chord is plenty so I’m calling it here. I have similar articles to this which you maybe interested in.
How to play the Fm chord on guitar
How to play the G major chord on guitar
How to play the F major chord on guitar
As far as these Cm guitar chord shapes go, I’d like you to try all of them out in a musical context. There maybe shapes you’ve seen here that you think you’ll never use but you’ll never know if they’re truly useful to you until you try them. All of these shapes and inversions are handy in different situations so give them all a try to see which work for you.
Hello. My name is Ryan J Mellor and I play the guitar. I’m also the creator of Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat. I’ve ben a guitarist for many years and my guitar playing has been described as “above average”. My guitar and music knowledge is somewhat impressive but most importantly, I have a passion for creating great guitar and music related content.