How to Play C#m7 Chord on Guitar

In today's lesson, we'll go over 5 distinct ways to play the C#m7 guitar chord, also known as the C minor seventh chord.

This guitar chord is built from the C minor scale and is similar to the C#m chord but has a little extra spice that adds a little tension and makes it sound a bit sweet and romantic.

Throughout this lesson, we'll discover common positions, voicings, and recommend finger placements, each with its chord diagram. We'll also discuss chord theory, inversions, how the chord can be used in a chord progression, and tips and tricks to make notes ring out.

C#m7 Guitar Chord (Easy Version)

c#m7 barre chord

When an inversion is written, it is often referred to as a slash chord, such as C#m7/B, which means to play the C#m7 but have the B note as the bass note.

The first C#m7 chord we'll go over is a simple one-finger barre chord. To play:

  • Place your index finger on the D string on the 9th fret 
  • Then barre your index finger across strings 1-4, pressing down on the strings with your first finger

That's it! Your first finger just lays down barring on one fret (but across a few strings), and you simply strum from the fourth string down.

This is a great barre chord to learn first so you can move up to playing barre chords that use all the strings and not have to rely on a capo!

Technically, this would be considered an inversion where the chord is not in the root position. Root notes refer to the root of the chord (in this case, the C# note), and root position means the C# note is the lowest-sounding note. If it was an E major chord, the E note would be the root note.

C#m7 Guitar Chord with Em7 Chord Shape

c#m7 chord in em7 shape

Building off the C#m7 chord we just learned, this next voicing will use all six strings. To play, place your:

  • First finger on the sixth (low e) string, third fret
  • Ring finger on the fifth string, 11th fret

As you squeeze with your ring finger, press your index finger to the side so all the strings ring out on the third fret, specifically, the high e string.

Pressing down multiple frets can be a bit tricky, especially if it's lower on the fretboard. A simple hack is to use your middle finger to help your index finger press down and make sure your thumb is in the middle of your hand. This added strength will help the chord ring out perfectly.

When you strum all six strings and the root note is in the bass (C# note), it will give you a nice full sound.

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C#m7 Guitar Chord with Am7 Chord Shape

c#m7 chord in am7 shape on guitar

This next voicing is one of the many common ways to play the C#m7 chord on guitar. To play, place your:

  • First finger on the 5th string, 4th fret
  • Ring finger on the 4th string, 6th fret
  • Second finger on the B (second) string, 5th fret
c#m7 chord in am7 shape tricky variant

You can also think of this position as playing the regular C# minor chord but then lifting off your pinky finger. If you don't know the C# minor chord, be sure to check out the other guitar chords I have in my Chord Library.

The difference with this next voicing is just one note from the voicing above. All you do is add your pinky on the high E string (first string), 7th fret.

C#m7 Guitar Chord with Dm7 Chord Shape

c#m7 chord in dm7 shape

This C#m7 guitar chord doesn't need a barre, and there's no stretching, which makes it much easier. To play,

  • First, place your second finger on the B string, 12th fret
  • Then, your ring finger on the high e string, 12th fret
  • Your index finger on the D string, 11th fret
  • At last, your fourth finger on the G string, 13th fret

Tips For C Sharp Minor 7th Chord

Tip #1

The #1 mistake players make in learning how to play new chords is that they don't memorize them. If you have to constantly look at diagrams to see where to place your fingers, your mind/body won't develop proper coordination. Focus on learning just a few chords at a given time.

Tip #2

To learn the C#m7 chord, play the chord very slowly so that all your fingers attack the strings simultaneously. Your chord changes will always be slow if you place your fingers on the fretboard one at a time.

Tip #3

Even though I have written the C#m7 as the Em7 or Am7 "shape," I would highly recommend not to think or refer to them like this. Yes, I know it's common for early intermediate guitar players (which is why I used it), but playing music is like speaking a language, and you don't translate as you speak; you just say the word. Thinking of shapes causes mental clutter.

What key or keys use the C#m7 Chord?

Major Keys: A, E, B
Minor keys: F#m, C#m, G#m

A few common chord progressions using the C#m7 guitar chord

  • E - A - C#m7- B
  • C#m7 - B - A - B
  • C#m7 - A - E - B7

What Notes Make Up The C# Sharp Minor Seventh Chord?

The C#m7 chord, or C sharp minor seventh, is a four-note chord that is derived from the C# minor scale.
C# D# E F# G# A B

When you number the notes on a scale, they are called SCALE DEGREES. So to make a C#m7 chord, we need the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th "degrees."

1       2     b3      4       5       b6     b7
C#    D#      E       F#     G#      A      B

All minor 7th chords use the 1, b3, 5, & b7 notes of their corresponding minor scale.

When these four notes are being played harmonically (played at the same time), you are playing a C#m7 chord.

Now you may be wondering why did you add a "b" (flat) to the 3, 6, and 7? This is beyond the scope of this lesson, but for simplicity's sake, all minor scales have the 3rd, 6th, and 7th notes lowered down a half step.  We'll have other lessons where we'll go in-depth on this. For now, let's just stick to learning the C#m7 guitar chord. 

Now, notice from each chord diagram ONLY the following notes C#, E, G#, & B are being used?  If you have another note in the chord, such as an A or D# note, it is no longer a C#m7 chord!

That being said, you can have multiple C#, E, G#, or B notes, as shown in each chord diagram. Try playing the chords, but only strum a few of the notes. If you listen closely, the chord will sound "thin" when there is only one of each note. However, adding more of the same notes gives the chord more depth. You may even think of it as a darker or lighter shade of the same color.

Now you know many ways to play the C#m7 guitar chord and understand some C#m7 chord theory!

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