How to Play C7 Minor Chord on Guitar

In today's lesson, we'll go over 5 distinct ways to play the Cm7 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 minor chord but adds in the seventh interval, making it a four-note chord. That extra note creates a distinct sound that sounds a bit sweet and romantic.

Throughout this lesson, we'll discover common ways to play the chord, common voicings, and recommend finger placements, each with its own chord diagram.

We'll also discuss the chord theory, where the Cm7 guitar chord gets its name, how the chord can be used, easy songs to practice, and some tips and tricks so that the notes ring out.

Cm7 Barre Chords

cm7 one finger barre chord

Due to the notes that make the C minor 7th chord, there is no open position, but there is a very easy voicing for playing the barre chord, which only takes one finger!

Cm7 One Finger Barre Chord (Easy)

Place your index finger on the fourth string, 8th fret. Then, barre your index finger across strings 1-4 by pressing to the side of your finger.

Strum this barre chord from the 4th string (d string) down.

cm7 with em7 shape

Cm7 Barre with Em7 Shape

Building off the barre chords we just learned, this next voicing will use all six strings. To play:

Place your index finger on the sixth string (low e string), 10th fret
Your ring finger on the fifth string, 10th fret

As you press in with your ring finger, press your index to the side so all the strings ring out, especially the high e string. If you need help barring, use your middle finger to help your index finger press down.

When you strum all six strings, this voicing, which is in its root position (the C note is the bass note) will give you a nice, full sound.

Cm7 Barre Chord with Am7 Shape

cm7 with am7 shape barre voicing 1

Voicing #1:

The following voicing is a very common way to play the Cm7 chord on guitar. To play, place your:

First finger on the 5th string, third fret
Ring finger on the 4th string, 5th fret
Second finger on the second (b) string, 4th fret

You can also think of this position as playing the regular C minor chord but then lifting off your pinky finger.

cm7 with am7 barre voicing 2

Voicing #2:

This voicing is slightly different from the finger position above. All you do is add your pinky on the high E string (first string), 6th fret.

This one can be a bit tricky because the guitar fretboard has wider frets lower on the neck to accommodate guitar chords, which also makes some finger positions slightly more difficult due to having to stretch.

Just make sure you have good technique.

Cm7 Guitar Chord with Dm7 Shape

cm7 with dm7 shape

This Cm7 chord doesn't need a barre, and there's no stretching, which makes it much easier. To play,

Place your second finger on the second string, 11th fret

Then place your third finger on the first string, 11th fret

Your first finger on the 4th string, 10th fret

Lastly, your fourth finger on the third string, 12th fret

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Cm7 Guitar Chord Tips

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 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 Cm7, 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 Cm7 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 when speaking a language, you don't translate as you speak; you just say the word. It's much better to think about the music vs the physical shapes your hands make when playing music.

Why Is A Chord Called C Minor Seventh Chord? 

To understand how a chord gets its name, we need to understand a little music theory and what's going on inside the chord. So now, let's look at what notes make the Cm7 chord. 

The notes of a chord are derived from its corresponding scale. In this case, The Cm7 chord or C minor 7 is a four-note chord derived from the C minor 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 Cm7 chord, we need the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th "degrees."

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

All minor chords use the 1, b3, and 5 notes of their corresponding scale, and the minor 7th simply adds in one more note, the 7!

When these four notes are being played harmonically (played at the same time), you are playing a Cm7 chord.

You may be wondering why did you add a "b" (flat) to the 3, 6, and 7 degrees of the scale? 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 compared to the major scale. We'll have other lessons to go in-depth on this, but let's just stick to learning the Cm7 chord for now. 

Also, notice from the guitar chord diagrams I provided ONLY the following notes: C, Eb, G, and Bb are present. If you have another note, such as a D or F note, it is no longer a C minor 7th chord!

That being said, you can have multiple C, Eb, G, and Bb notes, as shown in the chord diagrams, and they can be in any order and in any of the various inversions. Listen how the different voicings and inversions sound, they are the same but slightly different. Think of it as different shades of the same color.

Now, you are becoming a killer guitarist and know 7 ways to play the Cm7 guitar chord. Focus on memorizing a few voicings, and then put them to practice by playing songs that use the Cm7.

How to use the Cm7 guitar chord

By now, you've learned there are different types of guitar chords, but there are also different types of seventh chords! There are minor seventh, dominant seventh (sometimes called a dominant chord), major seventh, & minor major seventh chords.

The Cm7 chord can be used as a chord substitution for the C minor chord. For example, the basic chords in the G minor key are Gm Adim Bb Cm Dm Eb F.

If we take a chord progression like Gm Cm F Bb, we can create some Gm, Cm7, F, and Bb variations.

Also, you may have noticed that when playing the Cm7, you are playing notes C Eb G Bb, then the next chord was an F major, which has notes F A C. Adding the Bb To the Cm is going to make the transition to the F so much better because Bb and A note are a semitone away and we'll get a nice resolution.

If you need to learn how to play these other guitar chords, click here to go to the chord library.

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