Last updated on August 31st, 2023
The C minor 7 chord is a less commonly known chord when first learning to play guitar. You may also see this chord written as C min 7, Cm7, or C – 7 on sheet music.
In this post, we’ll go over some basic chord theory and then cover 8 ways to play a C minor 7 chord which you can start incorporating into your playing.
Grab your guitar and let’s get started!
C minor 7 chord theory intro
For example, the C minor 7 chord has the chord tones C, Eb, G, and Bb. This is essentially a C minor chord with an added b7 chord tone.
Here is the formula for minor 7 chords below.
In contrast, Major 7 chords contain the chord tones 1, 3, 5, and 7. For example, C Major 7 chord would contain the chord tones C, E, G, and B. However, we will only be covering the different minor 7 chord variations in this post.
Now that you know what notes belong to the chord structure, let’s look at how to read the chord charts.
How to read the chord charts
For the charts below:
- The top horizontal line of the chord chart represents the high E string and the bottom horizontal line represents the low E string.
- The vertical lines separate each fret.
- The numbers in the blue dots tell you which fingers to use on the fretting hand.
- The letters on the right of the charts tell you what notes you are playing on each string.
- Circles on the left represent open strings.
- Red X means to avoid that string.
You can check this link for more on how to read guitar notation symbols.
C minor 7 – 5th string shell chord
For the first C minor 7 chord, we’re using a shell chord shape, meaning that it includes 3rd and 7th of the chord. If the 2nd and 3rd fingers feel like too much of a stretch, you could also use your 3rd and 4th finger instead.
C minor 7 – 5th string variation
To add on to the previous chord shape, you could also add your pinky to the 2nd string, 4th fret.
C minor 7 barre chord on the 5th string
This next chord shape uses a barre with your 1st finger, starting on the 5th string, 3rd fret. If you can’t get the chord to sound clear, first try to get the notes from the 5th to the 2nd fret. Then as you develop more strength in your fingers, you can try adding the 1st string as well.
If needed, you can also check out these 5 tips to get better at playing barre chords.
C minor 7 barre chord – 5th string variation
We could also add our pinky finger to the previous chord shape on the 1st string, 6th fret. This shape originally comes from the open A minor 7 chord.
C minor 7 chord on the 6th string
Here is a way to play the C minor 7 chord on the 6th string starting on the 8th fret.
C minor 7 barre chord on the 6th string
Now, here is a C minor 7 barre chord on the 6th string, 7th fret. If you’re having trouble with this chord, first try to get the notes from the 6th to the 3rd string. Then as you develop more strength in your fingers, you can try adding the 2nd and 1st string as well.
This shape originally comes from the open E minor 7 chord.
C minor 7 barre chord – 6th string variation
Finally, as a variation to the previous shape, we can add our pinky finger to the 2nd string, 11th fret like this:
C minor 7 on the 4th string
Here is another way you can play a C minor 7 chord starting on the 4th string, 10th fret.
All these chords were mostly in root position, meaning the root note is in the bass. However, you have even more variations if you use different chord inversions. This is when you play a chord with notes other than the root in the bass.
It’s good to know many possibilities of playing the same chord because you have more flexibility to move around the fretboard. Also, you can use different chord variations when you need a certain note at the top to help define a melody that you are playing over.
I hope this helped you understand how to play a C minor 7 guitar chord or learn new ways of playing it. You can also try shifting the shapes that have all fretted notes to play other minor 7 chords on the same string.
If you’re interested in improvisation, you can learn how to play minor 7 arpeggios on guitar.
All the best,
JG Music Lessons