5 Ways To Play The C Minor Chord On Guitar

The C Minor chord on guitar is a minor triad made from the notes C Eb G. Although it is commonly abbreviated as Cm, you might see it notated in lead sheet symbols as Cmin, Cm, or C-. C minor is also the tonic of the key C minor, which has 3 flats!

If this is a lot of information to take in all at once, don’t worry! We explain all these concepts and more below. Most importantly, we list the many different ways to play C minor all over your fretboard so you can decide which voicing best fits into your unique sound.

C minor chord on guitar, c minor guitar, cm on guitar, boy holding an acoustic guitar

C Minor Guitar Chord Theory

When learning chords, it is important to understand some basic chord theory, let’s get started!

A triad is made of the root, 3rd, and 5th of a scale. 

More specifically, a minor triad is made from the root, minor 3rd and perfect 5th of a scale. 

C to Eb is a minor 3rd (m3), while C to G make a perfect fifth (P5).

C-> Eb = m3

C -> G = P5

m3 + P5= minor triad

Jazz music often uses lead sheet symbols to notate chords. You might see C Minor notated in the following ways: Cm, cmin, C-

How To Play The Cm Guitar Chord

We will begin with the most popular ways to play: The C minor Barre Chords! They are root position chords, which means C is the lowest note.

Method 1

c min chord guitar
  • Place your index finger on the 3rd fret of the 5th string and barre.
  • Place your middle finger on the 4th fret of the 2nd string.
  • Place your ring finger on the 5th fret of the 4th string.
  • Place your pinky on the 5th fret of the 3rd string.

Method 2

how to play the c minor guitar chord
  • Place your index finger on the 8th fret of the 6th string and barre.
  • Place your ring finger on the 10th fret of the 5th string.
  • Place your pinky on the 10th fret of the 4th string.

If playing barre chords is too difficult for you, you can always drop the lowest note of the chord. 

Not only does it make the chord easier to play, but it also adds a more trebly sound which is actually ideal for lead guitarists, and staying out of the bassists way!

Need help with playing barre chords?

Check out our article: Learn To Play Bar Chords On The Guitar

Alternate Ways To Play C Minor

While the last two may be the most common voicings, there are many other ways to play C minor. Try them all out to see which you like best!

Method 3

how to play Cm method 3
  • Place your index finger on the 3rd fret of the 1st string.
  • Place your middle finger on the 4th fret of the 2nd string.
  • Place your ring finger on the 5th fret of the 3rd string.

Method 4 (Easy Cm Chord Shape)

Look! Only 1 finger is needed for this voicing of the C minor chord, which is in first inversion, meaning the third of the chord, Eb, is now the lowest note.

An inversion in music theory is when the notes of a chord are rearranged so that the root is not the lowest pitch. By placing Eb as the bass note, this first inversion changes the chord’s texture and can offer a smoother transition between chords in a progression.

how to play the easy Cm chord on guitar
  • Place your index finger on the 8th fret of the 3rd string and barre.

Method 5

cminor chord method 5
  • Place your finger on the 8th frets of the 3rd and 2nd strings.
  • Place your ring finger on the 10th fret of the 4th string.
  • Remember not to strum the high E string!

Keys That Include The Cm

While it may be obvious that C min is the tonic of the key of C minor, let’s find out what other keys include the Cmin guitar chord!

Bb Maj: Bb Maj, Cm, Dm, Eb Maj, F Maj, G Min, A dim

Ab Maj: Ab Maj, Bbm, C min, Db Maj, Eb Maj, F Min, G dim

Eb Maj: Eb Maj, Fm, Gm, Ab Maj, Bb Maj, Cm, D dim

C Min: Cm, Ddim, Eb Maj, Fm, G Maj, Ab Maj, Bdim

G Min: Gm, A dim, Bb Maj, Cm, D Maj, Eb Maj, F#dim

Fun Fact: C minor is the relative minor of Eb major, meaning they have the same key signature: Bb, Eb, Ab!

Songs That Use The Cm Chord

Ready to jam out? See if you can play these songs that use C minor!

Eye of The Tiger – Survivor

Hey – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Don’t Dream It’s Over – Crowded Houses

Frequently Asked Questions

Is C minor a happy key?

C minor is generally not considered a happy key. It differs from a major key, such as C major, in terms of the emotional qualities it evokes. C major is often associated with brightness, cheerfulness, and a generally positive or uplifting mood. In contrast, C minor tends to convey a sense of sadness, seriousness, or even darkness, making it less commonly associated with a happy or joyful atmosphere.

What is the hardest open chord to play?

The F chord is notorious for being difficult to play, because of the necessary barre on the 1st fret, but with lots of practice, it becomes second nature.

What mood is C minor chord?

Although minor keys are often associated with feeling sad, not every song written in a minor key will be sad! It mostly depends on how the artist navigates within his or her key. Listen to this song in the key of c minor and consider how it makes you feel! 

What is the easiest minor chord on guitar?

The easiest minor chord on guitar is probably the Em chord. When played in the open position it only requires two fingers!

To learn Em and other easy chords, read our article: The Easiest Minor Chords On The Guitar: Start Playing Now!

What Chords Are In Cm?

Cm, D dim, Eb Maj, Fmin, G7, AbMaj, Bb dim

Conclusion

The C minor chord is very common for its sad and soothing sound. It is made of the notes C Eb G, making it a minor triad. Remember that it might also be written as Cm, Cmin, or C-. The key of C minor has 3 flats, making it the relative minor of Eb major. 

Above we explained 5 different ways to play the C minor chord on guitar, and even included songs you can play along to. Have fun playing C Minor!

Related: How To Play B Minor 7 On Guitar

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