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Basic Guitar Chords: Minor and Sevenths

Updated on January 26, 2014

Where do I start?

When learning how to play guitar chords it is good to start with the basic Major chords, followed by getting ahold of the Minor and Seventh's.

Once you have grasped these, you will be in a great position to play a range of new songs. Of course you will also need to learn how to strum in order to make the chords sound like music.

For now though focus on picking up these basic chords and learning to get your fingers into the correct position. Below you will find an explanation of the basic Minor and Seventh Chords you need to start with.

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Correct Finger Positioning

As your practice these chord shapes, it is important to get your fingers correctly positioned on the guitar neck so that each string sounds clear when you pluck it.

Initially your fingers may feel awkward, like they do not want to bend or stretch in the necessary way to hold the string down, however with practise you will find that your fingers get more familiar with the guitar neck and more comfortable moving around it.

Take time to get the fingering correct,making sure you are properly holding down the string, as well as not 'muffling' the neighbouring strings with your finger. It is important to press down hard enough to get a clear sound of the note when the string is plucked. Due to how close together the strings are, it is easy for your finger to lean against neighbouring strings accidentally, hindering that string from playing.

Once you have your fingers in place, slowly pluck each guitar string with your other hand to ensure it gives a clear sound. If any strings are unclear or muffled, you need to make adjustments to your fingers.

How to Read Guitar Chords

The diagram to the right explains how to read the chord charts we will look at in this article. Each chord chart is written to represent the neck of the guitar as if it was being held as shown in the diagram.

This way of writing chords is known as Tab (or Guitar Tablature).

Minor Chords

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Minor Chord Music Theory

How a minor chord is formed

A Triad is a chord formed with 3 notes. You may immediately point out that on guitar you are playing more than 3 notes with all these chords. However if you checked out the individual notes you are playing, you will find some of them are repeated in a different octave.

Major Chords are formed by using the first (also the root note of the scale) third and fifth note of the major scale. Most other types of chords are formed by then altering one or more notes of the major chord.

To form the minor chord, you 'flatten' the third note in the scale. On the guitar, this means moving it down one fret.

So the minor chord is first (root note), third note flattened, fifth note.

The Minor Chords

The chart to the right shows the positioning of the minor chords from A to G.

As you start learning to play these, you will soon notice that there are a number of similarities between some of them. For example Am, Bm and Cm all follow a similar pattern except they are moved up the neck of the guitar slightly.

You may also notice that in the Bm and Cm chords, there are five black dots, representing five fingers... but hold on a second, you only have four fingers available to play each chord (since your thumb is wrapped around the back of the guitar neck!). This is because two of the black dots are played using the same finger.

Bm and Cm are what we call Bar Chords and they require your index finger to be pressed against all of the strings of the guitar in the same fret.

On the BM chord the index finger is placed on the second fret of the guitar neck (and then the rest of the fingers are placed in a shape similar to the Am chord).

For the Cm chord this exact shape is simply moved up one fret on the guitar neck.

The bar chords are much harder to play, so you may want to leave learning those until you have mastered the others. They will take more work and practice, so do not get discouraged if you do not get ahold of them instantly.

You will notice a similar pattern to the Em, Fm and Gm chords. They all follow the same basic pattern as the Em, except the Fm is moved up one fret, with the index finger laid across all the strings of the first fret.

The Gm is then played by moving that same pattern up two frets.

This may all sound complicated and take a bit of thinking and practice, but you will get it!

How to Play Minor Chords on Guitar

Guitar Chords: sevenths

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Seventh Chords

Out of the major, minor and seventh chords, on the guitar, the minors are probably the hardest to play, as they involve a lot of bar chords. The sevenths are easier, as there is only one bar chord in the group: the F7

The chart to the right shows the positioning of the seventh chords.

Noticing Similarities

Once you have had a look at the major, minor and seventh chords, you will notice that the same lettered chords are grouped in similar areas of your guitar neck.

For example A, Am and A7 are very similar, except for one or two finger changes.


Conclusion

Take the time to learn and practice these chord formations. You need to be familiar enough with them to change rapidly from one chord to another, without having to think about where your fingers go, or to check the chord charts.


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    • enjoy life profile image
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      enjoy life 7 years ago from Europe

      Thank you Aldo, I appreciate those kind words :-)

    • profile image

      Aldo 7 years ago

      This guy is not only a musician but a good teacher, keeping simple and easy to understand and remember. Well done!