Minor Guitar Chords

m chords

Minor guitar chords consist of 3 notes: a root, a minor third, and a perfect fifth... also called a minor triad. Other names include mi, -, and min, but we generally refer to them as m chords, e.g., Am instead of A-, A mi or A min. Whenever you see an m chord, it always refers to a minor chord... Am, Bm, Dm, Em etc.

  • The chord formula for a minor chord is 1 - ♭3 - 5
  • All chords are calculated from the notes of the parent Major Scale, e.g., the notes of an Am chord are derived from the A Major Scale, the notes of a Bm chord are derived from the B Major Scale etc. Consider the following calculation of a Cm chord...
Chord Name + (other less-common names) Cm ( C-, Cmi, Cmin)
C Major Scale (Parent Scale of Cm) C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C
Chord Formula for all m chords 1 - ♭3 - 5
Chord Notes (after applying the formula to the Scale) C - E♭ - G
Chord notes on the Treble Clef
Cm chord
Although this example shows 4 notes, the 1st and 4th notes are the same except they are an octave apart.

Cm is the relative minor of E♭ Major which is the key signature shown here.

The featured song for this session is It Will Rain by Bruno Mars. It includes 3 minor chords, all of which are commonly used in modern music... Em, Bm, and F#m. For beginners that are learning barre chords, this song is a good practice piece.

Minor Chord Table
(m) A A#/B♭ B C C#/D♭ D D#/E♭ E F F#/G♭ G G#/A♭
Root A A#/B♭ B C C#/D♭ D D#/E♭ E F F#/G♭ G G#A♭
Minor 3rd C C#/D♭ D E♭ E/F♭ F F#/G♭ G A♭ A/B♭♭ B♭ B/C♭
Perfect 5th E E#/F F# G G#/A♭ A A#/B♭ B C C#/D♭ D D#/E♭

Minor Chords - Right Handers

m chords

Minor Chords: Am - Cm

Minor Guitar Chords - Part 1

You will notice several chords with a barre line and several 1's on it. This means there are several options for playing the chord. Let's use the Cm chord directly above as an example - 3rd position - frets 8, 9, 10. The chord must contain the notes C-E♭-G.

  • The chord can be played from strings 3-6 omitting string 1 and 2 as the notes are C-G-C-E♭(Cm chord)
  • The chord can be played using only the first 3 strings as the notes are E♭-G-C (Cm chord)... jazz and alternate styles.
  • For a full-bodied sound, the chord would be played using a full 6-string barre on the 8th fret... C-G-C-E♭-G-C

Minor Chords - Left Handers

m chords

It is interesting to note that there are 2 barre chord shapes & 1 open chord shape that are used time and time again... also referred to as moveable chords. Once you become familiar with these shapes, you will be comfortable playing all types of minor chords in a variety of positions.

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