[Acoustic Guitar Chords] > How to Play the C Minor Chord (And 4 Must-Know Variations)
In this guitar lesson, I’m going to show you how to play the C minor chord on guitar.
In fact, these are the same ways I have taught the C minor chord to thousands of students over the last decade.
This free C minor chord lesson will include…
- How to play C minor on guitar
- 4 ways to play the Cm guitar chord easier
- The EASIEST way to play a C minor guitar chord
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Watch a free lesson to get started.
Now, let’s dive right in.
Originally published on November 18, 2019, this article was republished on August 17, 2022.
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The C minor chord can be difficult to play because it uses a barre shape.
If you need a quick recap or warm-up on how to play barre chords, check out this lesson on the F chord.
In regards to C minor, it’s going to take finger strength in your index finger to play this chord.
If you’re having trouble reading this chord diagram, visit my chord diagram 101 lesson.
As you make the chord, make sure you’re playing with good form:
- Fingers arched
- Applying pressure with the tips of your fingers
- Thumb is not wrapped around the neck
- Not holding tension in wrist, elbow, or shoulders.
I love this version of Cm because it has a significant amount of power behind it.
While you aren’t utilizing all of the strings, the low C note in the A string really anchors this chord.
In addition, the barred version of C minor has some valuable versatility…
You can move this shape all over the fretboard, and you’ll be making minor chords left and right!
Again, if this is too difficult for you to play, remember that there is no rush. The goal here is to have fun while playing the guitar.
If the warm-up in the F chord lesson isn’t helping you play the C minor chord, don’t let this derail your practice session.
Fortunately, there are tons of different variations on C minor chords.
Easy C Minor Chord
If the barred chord aspect of the C minor chord is too difficult, try this easier version.
In this version, there are two big changes.
First, you don’t have to use your index finger to barre across all the frets. Second, you aren’t playing the C note on the A string.
Essentially, I just removed the bass note from the chord.
You’ll notice that the chord has a higher pitch and quality than the barre chord version.
Like the other versions of C minor, if you need a chord to have a lighter tonal quality, this is a perfect substitution for the barred shape.
This version of C minor still requires you to use all of your fingers, which can be a problem for beginner guitar students.
If you’re looking for an even easier version of C minor, check out the version below.
As you can see, this chord shape uses only three fingers, which is great for beginner guitar players.
This version of C minor is also a good balance between simplicity and interest.
Easier versions of C minor, as you’ll see soon, stop resembling the original sound and shape of the barre chord.
The version above still sounds like a C minor chord but doesn’t have the complications of playing the low C note.
If you need even easier versions of the chord, I still have 2 more variations that might just be the easiest hacks for playing this chord.
C Minor Chord 2-Finger Variation
When you’re having trouble playing a C minor chord, you can always count on this variation in a pinch.
While this chord variation is easier for your fretting hand, it can present some challenges for your strumming hand.
- Be sure to only strum the D, G, and B strings.
- If you strum the other strings, it won’t be a C minor chord!
Like most beginner guitar chords, there are many different ways to play the C minor chord.
However, the key is to find the one that works for your fingers and the material you’re playing.
The Essential Version of Cm Chord
While all of the above versions of the Cm chord are valid, there is certainly one version that I think every guitar player should know.
Before I tell you, I need to let you know that every chord has a unique time and place it can be used to great success.
While the barre chord variation can give you a lot of power, it can also overwhelm the sonic pastiche if you’re trying to play softer, more mellow music.
Meanwhile, the 2 finger version can sound rather thin.
If you need help breaking down more of these distinctions, I highly encourage you to watch my FREE video for my guitar workshop where we explore all different variations.
Now, the version I think everyone needs to know is the Cm chord with the barre shape.
That barre shape can be applied up and down the neck...
That is to say, you can move that barre shape up two frets, and suddenly you’re playing a D minor chord.
Just learning that one shape opens up many other minor chords — and that’s what I call good bang for your buck!
Continue the Journey
If you’re anything like me or the thousands of students I’ve helped, you’ve realized that playing the guitar isn’t easy.
You have to practice, maintain your guitar, expand your musical horizons, and — most importantly — have fun…otherwise, your guitar journey ends far too soon.
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