By the end of this lesson, we’ll have covered the most crucial C sharp minor guitar chords.
We’ll go over the simple versions, the complex, how to play each form and how to apply them once you’ve got them memorized.
Since the conventional versions are tough to play, I’ve written this lesson in such a way that we break down the shape of the C sharp minor chord, then build it back up one note at a time.
Here's everything we'll cover (click to navigate to section).
Guitar Education Resources I Use
I often refer to Guitar Tricks courses and video lessons, which to this point have amassed a library of well over 10k videos.
They're the best when it comes to online guitar lessons, and they'll let you try everything out free for 14 days. After that, you still have 60 additional days to cancel with a full refund, no questions asked.
You can checkout my full review of Guitar Tricks for more information.
The Basics of C Sharp Minor Guitar Chords
First we need to cover the full C sharp minor guitar chord.
One might say, “The difficult version.”
When you Google this chord, the following tab is what you’ll most commonly see:
All chord diagrams and tabs were created using the Guitar Pro 6 notation software.
Most of the time it’s presented without the root note that you see at the fourth fret. While it’s not un-learnable, it’s certainly not what I would consider easy. It’s tedious to learn as a beginner before your hand strength is developed.
This is especially true if you're not already familiar with the barre chord form.
All this is not to say that I would never advise learning it.
It’s just not a great idea to try and learn this particular voicing first. Instead, start with the simple forms and work your way up to the more difficult.
The simplest thing is to first nail down the C♯ root note, so we’ll start there.
From there, we can build this chord one interval at a time.
Finding C♯ on the Fretboard
For us to learn a chord from the ground up, we need to start with one note: The root note or the "tonic" of the chord.
Since the root is usually going to fall on either the sixth or fifth (two thickest) strings, we can use fretboard note diagrams to find where our C♯ notes are located on those two strings.
In tab form, here are the two main locations you need to memorize and associate with C♯:
Almost every time you play a C♯m chord, your root note will fall on one of these two locations.
To start learning the chord, a good first step is to memorize this tab as the locations of the C♯ root note in a standard guitar tuning.
Creating a C♯ Dyad
We’ve got a root note for our chord. What’s the next step?
We need to add another note to our root to create a simple dyad (which is a chord comprised of two notes).
By adding a perfect fifth interval we get a basic power chord form.
This is the simplest C♯ chord you can play, as it has neither minor nor major intervals. They’re the exact same chord at two different points, each comprised of only two notes.
Creating a C♯ Triad
As you might have guessed, the next step would be to create a triadic form of the C♯ chord.
Note that this form doesn't meet the technical definition of a triad since we still haven't added the minor third. A triad is made up of three notes, including the root, third and fifth.
In this case we have a root, fifth and octave. So it's three notes, but I'd be more comfortable calling it a "triadic form" and not a definition-faithful triad at this point.
Add an octave to the root note at the sixth and 11th frets, per the diagram:
Keep in mind, if you assume the root note, if for example a bass or another guitar player handles the the C♯, you can omit the root note from your chord and just play the fifth and the octave, dropping the chord back to a dyadic form.
Since it’s supposed to be a C sharp minor chord, we can add the minor third to either shape.
Adding Open Notes to the C Sharp Minor Guitar Triad to Create a C Sharp Minor 7
Now that we’ve got our triads, we can start to fill out our chords with some open notes - namely the high B and E - to create a C sharp minor 7, which can be abbreviated C♯m7.
Starting with the last form of our chord, simply strum through and add the last two strings as open notes.
Note: This typically works best with the form that begins with the root note on the fourth fret and the second string.
Notice anything familiar?
This brings us back to a sharp that looks similar to our formal C sharp minor guitar chord.
The only difference here is that we've dropped the minor third in favor of the open B, which happens to be a minor seventh (10 semitones from the root), thus creating the C♯m7 chord.
The C♯m7, and everything in between, is easier is easier to play than the full version of th C sharp minor guitar chord . So learn the chord in segments, starting with the root note and working your way up to the more difficult versions.
Now that we know some chords:
How can we expand on what we’ve learned?
Expanding on the C Sharp Minor Guitar Chord
There are a couple simple ways to apply what we’ve learned so far:
- Dyadic Chord Progressions
- Arpeggiated chord patterns
We’ll cover both concepts as a way to build on the chords we’ve already learned.
Dyadic Chord Progressions with C Sharp Minor
Since we learned a few simple dyadic chords, we can use those forms (which are moveable to any fret) to carve out some chord progressions to help us better understand and memorize the chord shapes.
Let’s start with this C♯m chord form:
Follow the chord down two whole steps for a C♯m, B, A and E progression.
Arpeggiated C Sharp Minor Guitar Chords
A good practice for learning and memorizing chords is to break them up into arpeggiated patterns.
We’ll do that here with some of the C sharp minor chord shapes we’ve covered.
Further Application and Practical Use
If we examine the chords in the key of C♯m, we can identify a number of other commonly used chord progressions.
Chords in the Key of C♯m
|Common Chord Progressions in C# Minor|
|C♯m - A - B|
|C♯m - F♯m - B|
|C♯m - F♯m - G♯m|
|C♯m - A - E - B|
|D♯m7b5 - G♯m - C♯m|
Courtesy of Guitar-Chords.org
Depending on your musical genre of interest, any or all of these progressions could be worth memorizing. It’ll improve your songwriting ability, your understanding of music theory and your ability to hear or predict chord changes.
The two progressions I’ve highlighted in red are likely to be the most applicable for you.
Start by memorizing those and coming up with a comfortable way to play them. Use the simpler versions of the C♯m chord that we’ve covered here as a starting point.
What’s your experience learning C sharp minor guitar chords?
Want to learn more guitar?
So many of the details involved with learning guitar tend to elude us.
You know, the depth topics and specifics that are hard to come by without a personal tutor.
Guitar players need real, substantive education when it comes to learning and even maintaining skills with their instrument.
Such is available to you via a Guitar Tricks 14-day free trial. Having begun in 1997, they keep a massive library of material with professional instructors that take you through each concept step-by-step. It’s more then you could ever possibly get through in two weeks.
But in two weeks you’ll learn a lot with access to great resources that all guitarists can benefit from.
Other Beginner Rhythm Guitar Resources
E7 Chord Chart and 5-Step Beginner's Guide: Looking at the basics of the E7 chord, including relevant intervals, arpeggios and exercises.
Ultimate C Chord Guitar Reference: A massive lesson on the C chord covering every aspect of its theory, forms, voicings, progressions and applicable exercises.
Ultimate D Chord Guitar Reference: A massive lesson on the D chord covering every aspect of its theory, forms, voicings, progressions and applicable exercises.
Guitar Music Theory for Songwriters: A lengthy article covering all the basics of music theory that are particularly applicable to songwriters and acoustic artists.
27 Chord Progressions for Guitar Players: Roundup of all the most common and guitar-friendly chord progressions, complete with charts and explanations.
181 Easy Guitar Songs: Collection of links to guitar songs that are easy to play on guitar, either via a tab or chord lead sheet.
5 Reusable Hard Rock Chord Progressions: A lesson focusing on chord progressions that are particularly relevant to heavy, modern rock styles.
Flickr Commons Image Courtesy of weeklydig