C minor chord for guitar

About this chord:

The C minor chord is a minor triad: root, minor third, perfect fifth.
This chord has the following alternative names: C minor C m C -

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Position 1

Chart for the C m guitar chord. Fretboard position 1 image

Position 2

C m chord fretboard diagram. Fretboard position 2 image

Position 3

Play the C m guitar chord. Fretboard position 3 image

Fingers notation: 1 = index, 2 = middle, 3 = ring, 4 = pinky. Click here to learn more.

Before we find different chord positions for Cm let’s get an idea of how the chord is built and used.

The notes for the C major scale are C D E F G A B and a major chord is made up of theroot, major third, and perfect fifth. Which means a C major chord is made up of the notes C-E-G. If we instead use the root, minor third, and perfect fifth we get C Eb G or C minor

C minor scale: C D Eb F G Ab Bb

1
b2
2
b3
3
4
b5
5
#5
6
b7
7

Songs with the C minor chord

Minor chords are often associated with sadder and often slower music. Major chords are perfect for upbeat rock and blues, while the minors are there to change the mood. You will find plenty of minor chords in classical music along with genres like pop, rock, and funk.

  • One famous song written in a minor key was "Stairway to Heaven"
  • One particular tune using Cm was "Blackbird" by The Beatles.
  • The song "Creep" by Radiohead uses C major and then C minor to end each verse. (And the song "Creep" is supposedly a copy of the song "Air That I Breathe" by The Hollies and that also uses the Cm chord)

That is why that chord progression (C major and the C minor) has been used so many times (even "Get Free" by Lana Del Ray) it sounds so nice changing from the major to the minor.

C minor chord guitar shapes

Using the tones above we can come up with some of the more popular versions of how to play the Cm chord. Usually when we play a chord we want the root note (here C) to be the lowest played bass note. Sometimes we will find a chord shape where that isn’t the case, which means the chord is an inversion. If the lowest note is E or G instead of the C than that is an inversion. It will depend on previous and latter chords in the progression as to whether the inversions sound good when played. Sometimes the inversions will sound better than the regular chord with the normal root note!

Common C minor shape (barre required)

One common way to play Cm is by using barre chord minor shapes. For example the Am shape moves up three frets to become Cm X35543. Or we move the Em shape up eight frets at 8-10-10-8-8-8.

c minor chord bar shape fingering 5th string
c minor chord bar shape 6th string

Cm fingering variations

Or we can try voicing it as 8655XX or perhaps the first inversion which is easily played X6554X

c minor chord 8655XX fingering
c minor chord X6554X fingering

More complicated chord shapes for C minor

We can also try some complicated positions with muted strings. Like X3X04X which is used in the song Blackbird like we mentioned above. Also this "open" Cm X3101X. Remember muting the outer E strings will be a lot easier than internal strings, they require a lot more practice.

c minor chord X3X04X fingering
c minor chord X3101X fingering

Keys with C minor chord

You will often see Cm in the Keys of Eb, Bb, and Ab. Of course it may be used in regular keys like G and F if you want a mood change from major to minor. Three common scales that are fitting when playing the Cm chord are the natural minor scale, the harmonic minor, and the melodic minor scale.

Eb major key

KeyIiiiiiIVVvivii
EbEbFmGmAbBbCmDm/b5

Bb major key

KeyIiiiiiIVVvivii
BbBbCmDmEbFGmAm/b5

Ab major key

KeyIiiiiiIVVvivii
AbAbBbmCmDbEbFmGm/b5

G minor key

KeyiiiIIIivvVIVII
GGmAm/b5BbCmDmEbF

F minor key

KeyiiiIIIivvVIVII
FFmGm/b5AbBbmCmDbEb

Further references

C minor chord for guitar: Interactive Chord Tabs

Click on the play button to listen to the chords and visualize the patterns

loading soundsLoading sounds...

Chord Structure:

1 b3 5

1
b2
2
b3
3
4
b5
5
#5
6
b7
7

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