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Home > Beginners / Chords > Open Minor Chords

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Open Minor Guitar Chords

In the first basic guitar chords lesson, we looked at major open position chords as the first milestone of our chord knowledge. Now we're going to look at open minor guitar chords, which are built around the same basic positions from part 1 - E, A, D, C and G.

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Minor chords - an introduction

In part 1, I mentioned how major and minor chords are most broadly differentiated. Major chords sound bright, happy, warm... minor chords sound ominous, sad, cold, dark etc. but did you know that the only difference between major and minor chords is just one single note?

As you'll see in a minute, we only change one note in the major chord to turn it into a minor chord, yet the difference in sound is huge (as you'll hear).

See, there is only one single note responsible for making the chord major or minor, and it's worth understanding which note that is. In music theory, it's known as the "3rd", but the important thing at this stage is that you can hear what makes a major chord major and a minor chord minor. Based on your knowledge of the major chords from part 1, see if you can identify which note we are changing, and where we move it to create the minor equivalent...


The 5 open minor guitar chordsfingers numbered 1 to 4

Many guitar chord lessons you'll see in books and online will only show you the most common minor chord shapes - E, A and D. This is because C and G minor open shapes are not as commonly used. However, I would still advise learning them, because it's good to keep your playing options open. You never know when you'll "need" them!

Click the photos/diagrams to hear the chord.

E minor guitar chord

Some people prefer to use their 1st and 2nd fingers for this one.

photo of E minor open guitar chord

  • The high E string is played open
  • The B string is played open
  • The G string is played open
  • 3rd finger frets the D string at the 2nd fret
  • 2nd finger frets the A string at the 2nd fret
  • The low E string is played open

open E minor chord diagram

A minor guitar chord

photo of A minor open chord fingering

  • High E string is played open
  • 1st finger frets the B string at the 1st fret
  • 3rd finger frets the G string at the 2nd fret
  • 2nd finger frets the D string at the 2nd fret
  • The A string is played open
  • The low E string is NOT played (marked by the X)

open A minor chord diagram

D minor guitar chord

photo of D minor open chord

  • 1st finger frets the high E string at the 1st fret
  • 3rd finger frets the B string at the 3rd fret
  • 2nd finger frets the G string at the 2nd fret
  • The D string is played open
  • The low E and A strings are NOT played

open D minor chord diagram

G minor guitar chord

This one offers a deeper minor voicing.

photo of G minor open chord

  • The high E string is NOT played
  • 4th finger frets the B string at the 3rd fret
  • The G string is played open
  • The D string is played open
  • 1st finger frets the A string at the 1st fret
  • 3rd finger frets the low E string at 3rd fret

G minor open chord diagram

C minor guitar chord

Obviously you don't need to raise your 3rd finger like I do in the pic. That was just so you could see the fingering clearly. If your hands are big enough, you may be able to use 3rd finger in place of 4th. Don't worry if no matter how much you try you just can't finger this one - it's not essential to learn, but it's just another chord to add to the library.

photo of C minor open chord

  • The high E string is NOT played
  • 2nd finger frets the B string at the 1st fret
  • The G string is played open
  • 1st finger frets the D string at the 1st fret
  • 4th finger frets the A string at the 3rd fret
  • The low E string is NOT played

C minor open chord diagram


Practice changing between open chords

Now we have effectively doubled our library of chords to include both major and minor, we can really start to create more meaningful music. Mixing minor and major chords in your songs adds depth to the music.

This is also a good opportunity to get physically confident with changing between major and minor shapes. Before you play over the jam track below, use a metronome to gradually build up your speed with changing chords. Make sure the changes are smooth and clean before you speed up a notch.

When you're ready, try the exercise below. Just like in the first lesson, you don't need to think about strumming patterns, just focus on the chord changes in time with the rhythm.

chord change exercise tab
Guitar Example  -  Download Jam Track

Also, as always with these lessons, try making your own sequence from the guitar chords we've learned. Once you're up to speed, try playing along to drum tracks to make your practice more engaging.

The more you practice changing between chords, the sooner you will be ready to move on to using more advanced chord fingerings. However, don't feel like you're in a rush. Take your time, there is no exam deadline for this! It's important to make sure you're 100% confident with fingering these chords before you move on.

Keep playing around with the major and minor open chords you've learned. The sooner you start to create your own music, from your own ideas, the more you will begin to understand music and how chords work, naturally.



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