The Cm7 chord -- C, Eb, G, and Bb -- is one that shows up in songs across genres, so no matter what style of music you like to play most, you'll be encountering it often. It stands to reason, then, that you'll need a strong command of this chord and its many permutations on the guitar so that you can call upon it whenever the appropriate moment arises. That's where we'll be lending a hand today, as we show you all the easy, complicated, cool, and unusual shapes you can employ on your fretboard to play Cm7.
We won't go straight for the barre chord versions of Cm7, even though they're some of the most common variants many guitarists used when they need to play this particular chord. Instead, we'll start with a lesser-used, open position voicing that will give you an inarguably cool sound if you can play it clean and precise:
You'll need to hone your accuracy and fingering technique to have a good go at this Cm7 voicing, but you'll be better for the experience, as challenging yourself with chord shapes and muting like this is a great way to turn yourself into a skillful chord-playing machine. With that being said, while you're hanging out near open position, there is one 5-string barre chord version of Cm7 on the 1st fret, two 5-string barre chord versions of Cm7 you'll want to try on the 3rd fret, and an additional non-barre variant you can use here:
Now, these voicings aren't exactly a "walk in the park," but to our earlier point, tackling tricky chord shapes is a great practice and will help improve your abilities when it comes time to try on other difficult and unusual chords. You'll just happen to find two more such variations on the 6th fret, if you're trying to play a Cm7 chord with a slightly different sound and can pull of the necessary finger stretch:
Moving up to the 8th fret, you'll find even more ways to play Cm7 using the ever-useful barre method. This time, you'll be engaging all six strings on your guitar, and pulling off some impressive stretches in a few cases. Be sure to warm up before attempting these:
That's a lot of barre chords to memorize! Thankfully, they're mostly similar, and there only subtle variations in finger positioning you'll need to recall. There's also a version of Cm7 you can play at the 8th fret without barring any strings:
Lastly, we should discuss the Cm7 voicings at the 10th fret, using the so-called "Dm7 shape." They are dubbed as such because they bear a resemblance to the way you would play a Dm7 chord in open position, but the shape is used on a different part of the fretboard, resulting in the desired Cm7 chord, in these cases:
Got all that? Good. Now it's time to talk about how you can improve your technique and ensure your Cm7 chords sound their very best.
First things first, you'll want to practice these chord voicings in isolation and work carefully on forming the correct shapes in crystal-clear fashion. When you're initially learning each of these Cm7 chord shapes, double check that your fingers are in the proper position before pushing down and playing (doing otherwise may embed your errors).
When you are playing the chords, make sure that they sound clear, that is, that none of the strings that need to vibrate to form your chord sound muddy or muted. Finally, ensure that your hand stays flexible and relaxed, as it's the best way to stretch and cover any chord in a comfortable manner.
Next, you'll want to take a crack at moving from chord shape to chord shape to ensure you've got the voicings committed to memory. Jump around between one or two at first, then gradually increase that number until you can successfully recall all of what you've learned today. When you're feeling truly confident, you'll be able to throw Cm7 into a few songs, and should work hard on making your transitions between chords seamless. Here are few suggestions to start you out:
Of course, there are plenty more tunes that will use Cm7, and as you come across them, remember you can always refer back to this guide if you need to find a voicing that will best fit your interpretation of the song, or just want to try out something new to spice up your playing. As always, good luck, and happy practicing!
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