How to Play C Minor Chord on Guitar

On this page I am going to show you 7 ways for how to play the C minor chord on guitar. 
I'll show you the easy Cm guitar chord, as well as how to play the Cm chord as a bar chord. We'll also get into popular chords that go with Cm, popular songs that use the Cm chord, and what notes are used to make up the chord. 

Let's get started!

Why is the Cm chord so hard?

The Cm chord is a bit harder than other chords because there is no open position for this chord. Which means when it is usually taught it is taught as a bar chord. Don't worry, I'll show you some easy ways to play the Cm chord on guitar!

Easy Cm Guitar Chord

To play the Cm chord in guitar with the easiest fingering possible here it is. Place your first finger on the 3rd string 8th fret then lay (bar) your 1st finger across strings 1-3 on the 8th  fret.

That's it! No joke!

Be sure your thumb is not too high on the neck, not curled, and not on the outside of your first finger.  If not, you wont have as much leverage or stretch.

How To Strum The Cm chord

To strum the Cm guitar chord without strumming strings 4, 5 & 6 You're going to need to get really good at missing these strings when you strum. This comes with practice but sometimes I lightly rest my wrist of my strumming hand just before the first strum to feel where I am. It's very quick and most people don't realize I am doing this.

Cm Guitar Chord

Building off the easy Cm guitar chord you just learned, all we are going to do is add in another finger and give this chord a bit more bottom end. 

First place your 3rd finger on the 4th string 10th fret, then lay your 3rd finger across strings 1, 2, & 3 on the 8th.

Be sure you thumb is splitting the difference with your 1st and 3rd fingers and then squeeze straight in with your 3rd finger while your 1st finger presses to the side. This is very important to get the bar to sound.

Not sure on how to read a chord diagram or want to learn more chords?  Click here

Cm/G Guitar Chord

Another easy way to play the Cm guitar chord

Next, what you can do is add even more bottom end to the chord by adding in the G note. To do this, you'll want to change up your fingerings just a little bit

Place your 3rd finger on the 5th string 10th fret
Place your 4th finger on the 4th string 10th fret

Apply the bar as learned above by laying your 1st finger across strings 1, 2, and 3. 

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Cm Chord Tips

The 1st tip to learning the Cm chord is to get it memorize and trust your picking hand. If you are constantly trying to remember the chord or having to look back and forth between your picking and fret hand progress will be a slow and painful process. 

The 2nd tip is to to make sure your thumb is behind your first and second fingers. You don't want your thumb on the outside of your index finger as this will cause your hand to not be able to stretch or work properly.

The 3rd tip is for bar chords. When playing bar chords and your index finger (1st finger) needs to do execute the bar you want to apply pressure to the side of your finger. If you squeeze directly in your finger will bend and the strings on your knuckles wont ring out!

Cm Chord Without Bar

This next position for the Cm chord will move you one step closer to playing a Cm minor bar chord. To play the Cm in this position 
place your 1st finger on 5th string 3rd fret,
place your 3rd finger on 4th string 5th fret,
place your 4th finger on 3rd string 5th fret,
place your 2nd finger on 2nd string 4th fret. 

To avoid strumming string 1 & 6 you can have your index finger slightly higher on the finger tip so that the finger tip touches the 6th string. 
For the 1st string, if you have good technique and are not jutting our your wrist your hand may mute the 1st string without you needing to do anything. 

This next position for the Cm chord is a bit more rare but really cool. It's a bit more trickier as it really uses the weak side of your hand but will give you more sounds to experiment with when making music!
To play the Cm in this position 
place your 1st finger on 4th string 10th fret,
place your 3rd finger on 3rd string 12th fret,
place your 4th finger on 2nd string 13th fret,
place your 2nd finger on 1st string 11 th fret. 

You're going to have to practice to get used to avoid strumming string 5 & 6 but you can do it!

Cm Bar Chord 

Now we are going to move on to bar chords and you are going to learn how to play the Cm bar chord properly. I am going to guide you through different variations of the dm bar chord with easy variation getting progressively harder. 

Just so we are clear, when you use one finger to press multiple strings this is called a  bar chord or sometimes spelled barre chord. 

Lets get started!

This Cm chord is just like the variation you learned but now we are going to bar using your 1st finger. Fret it just the same as above but have your index finger lining FLAT and pressing to the side so the 5th and 1st string can ring out. 

** Note, even though I break down the fingerings 1 by 1, to play chords properly and make smooth transitions this all must be done with ONE motion. 

Cm Bar chord 

In this last variation of the Cm bar chord we are going to cover here is sometimes called the "Em" shape in reference to how the Em chord looks in open position. 

If this is confusing don't worry about it. I don't want you to become a "shape" player but it's a common reference so I thought I'd mention it here. 
To fret this place your 1st finger on the 6th string 8th fret your 3rd finger on 5th string 10th fret your 4th finger on 4th string 10th fret 
and then lay your 1st finger down across all the strings.

To help leverage I recommend using your 2nd finger to help your 1st finger push down.

Now you know how to play the Cm chord! 👊
Scratch that, you are a Cm chord pro as you know a lot of ways to play the Cm guitar chord!

Easy Songs That Use The Cm Guitar Chord

Survivor - Eye of The Tiger
Greenday - Wake Me Up When September Ends

Note, because the Cm chord uses an Eb note, it's common to tune your guitar down a 1/2 step and then play C#m. (Tuning down is beyond the scope of this lesson) 

Cm Guitar Chord Progression

Here's a few chord progressions that sound great that use the Cm chord. Feel free to change up the orders and experiment with the sounds!

Eb - Ab - Cm - Bb
Bb - Cm - Bb - Ab
F - Cm - F -Bb

Cm - Ab  - Bb - Ab 
Cm - Fm - G - Cm
Gm - Cm - F - Bb

If you need help learning these other chords, click here

What Keys Have A Cm Chord? 

Major keys that use a Cm chord:
Key of Eb Major
Key of Ab Major
Key of Bb Major

Minor keys that use a Cm chord:
Key of Cm Minor
Key of F Minor
Key of Gm Minor

What Are The Notes Of A Cm Chord?

A Cm chord or C minor chord consists of 3 notes that are derived from the Cm major scale.
C  D  Eb  F  G  Ab  Bb 

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

1       2      b3      4      5        b6      b7 
     D      Eb       F      G      Ab     Bb 

All minor chords use the 1, b3, and 5 notes of a their corresponding scale. 

When these 3 notes are being played harmonically (played at the same time) you are playing a Cm 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 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 lets just stick to learn the C minor chord. 

Now, notice from the chord diagrams, ONLY the notes C, Eb, and G  are being used?  If you have another note such as a F note or a D not it is no longer a C minor chord!

That being said, you can have multiple C, Eb, or G notes as show in the chord diagrams. Try playing the chords but only strum a few of the notes. Notice the chord will sound "thin" if there are only one of each note. By adding in more of the same notes you make the chord have more depth. You may even think of it as a darker or lighter shade of the same color.

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