The Minor Chords (Guitar Lesson)

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David MacKenzie

The Minor Chords

David MacKenzie walks you through the basic minor chords. Expand your knowledge of chords with this fun-filled lesson.

Taught by David MacKenzie in Basic Electric Guitar seriesLength: 8:15Difficulty: 1.5 of 5
Chapter 1: (00:12) The Minor Chords David MacKenzie plays through some of the minor chord shapes that he will teach in this lesson.
Chapter 2: (00:52) The Minor Chords In the previous lesson, you learned some basic major chord shapes. This time around, Dave will apply the same instructional approach to minor chords. It is important to master both major as well as minor chord shapes since they are frequently used together in chord progressions.

Note: Chord charts for every chord taught in this lesson can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab. These charts can also be found in JamPlay's Chord Library. This section can be accessed via the "Teaching Tools" tab on the left side of the home page.
Chapter 3: (02:57) A Minor Chord and More Am

The first chord that Dave demonstrates is the "open" A minor chord shape. A chord is referred to as an "open" chord when it contains one or more open strings. The low E string is usually not played with this chord shape. However, the high E string as well as the A string are played open. The open A string is the root note of this chord. The second plays the note E at the 2nd fret of the D string. The third finger is used to fret an additional root note A at the 2nd fret of the G string. Finally, the index finger holds down the note C at the first fret of the B string.

When playing this chord, be sure to fret each of the notes on the tips of your fingers. Also, arch your wrist outwards to ensure that your third finger is not obstructing the high E string and preventing it from ringing clearly.


From a visual standpoint, the Bm chord is quite similar to Am. However, the Bm chord features no open strings. Consequently, a barre must be employed to fret the 5th and 1st strings. This barre is performed by the index finger. As a result of this barre, the fingering for the remaining three notes must be adjusted. The 3rd, 4th, and 2nd fingers fret the notes on the D, G, and B strings respectively. Pay close attention as Dave compares and contrasts the fingerings for the Am and Bm chords at 01:45 in the lesson video.

For many of you, this may be your first barre chord. Bar chords can be very challenging and frustrating when first learning them. Do not feel discouraged if you don't immediately master this chord shape. It will take a few weeks of practice before it feels totally comfortable. In the meantime, you can play an abbreviated shape of this chord that omits the note played on the fifth string. Omitting this note eliminates the barre from the chord shape. Now, the first finger must only fret the note F# at the 2nd fret of the high E string.

Like Dave mentions, you should begin practicing the process of switching from one chord to the next. Once you have mastered the Am and Bm chord shapes individually, begin to practice switching back and forth between them.
Chapter 4: (04:10) More Minor Chords Cm

The Cm chord utilizes the exact same barre chord shape as Bm. By sliding all of the notes of the Bm chord up one fret, the Cm chord is formed. You may find Cm a little bit easier to play than Bm, because it is slightly higher on the neck. Consequently, your fingers do not have to stretch quite as far. If you find this to be the case, use the Cm chord as a stepping stone to the more difficult Bm chord.


To play a Dm chord, you could just slide the entire Cm shape up two frets. However, Dm is more commonly played as a basic "open" chord shape. This "open" chord shape omits the low sixth and fifth strings. The D string is played open. This open D note is the root note of the chord. The second finger holds down the note A at the 2nd fret of the G string. The third finger plays the note D at the 3rd fret of the B string. Finally, the index finger frets the note F at the 1st fret on the high E string.

The Am and Dm chords frequently appear together in many chord progressions. As a result, you must become familiar with switching back and forth between these two chord shapes.


The E minor chord is one of the easiest chords to master in the entire guitar vocabulary. This is due to the fact that you only have to fret two notes. These notes are B and E. B is fretted by the second finger at the 2nd fret of the A string. The third finger plays E at the second fret of the D string. Also, you do not have to avoid any of the six strings when strumming.


When playing an Fm chord, utilize the same basic fretboard shape applied to the "open" Em chord. Since the Fm chord contains no open strings, the first finger must perform a barre across all six strings. A barre that extends across the entire fretboard is called a full barre or "grand" barre. Then, the third and fourth fingers at the 3rd fret must now fret the notes that were once fretted by the second and third fingers.

Be patient with this chord! It can be very difficult at first. Since your second finger is not used to fret any notes, it can be used as a clamp to help the first finger hold down all of the strings under the grand barre.

Note: For additional help with barre chords, use JamPlay's search feature to locate all lessons pertaining to barre chords. This feature is located in the upper right-hand corner of the home page.


By sliding the entire Fm shape up two frets, a Gm chord is formed. This chord is slightly easier to play since it is a little bit higher up on the fretboard. The barre chord shape based on the "open" Em chord can be shifted up the entire length of the fretboard to create new chords. Watch closely as Dave shifts this basic chord shape up the neck to fret barre chord versions of the Am and Bm chords.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Supplemental Learning Material



Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

grassercgrasserc replied

Dave, Hopefully this isn't a stupid comment but I noticed that you were playing a Squire guitar. A lot of people trash them, but I think that they are as good as the person behind it. Thanks for showing that someone doesn't need a Gibson Les Paul or American Made Strat to play!

profman69profman69 replied

I can't tell you how helpful this was. Barre chords never made any sense to me----until now. Thanks!

RemekRemek replied

Dave: what I think would be helpful is to have one sheet in the supplemental material with all of the chords on it, rather than the 12 or so pages you have. That way it can all be printed together. then again, its available on the internet so its not a huge complaint.

skariskyskarisky replied

I'm Having Problems With My First Finger Covering A Full Fret

lespaulaxcesslespaulaxcess replied

Barreing is very difficult for me, I find that as I put pressure on the fret that im barreing the pressure becomes released from individual notes.

fromflamesfromflames replied

Thanks, great vid Dave!, knew some of em already :D The problem i'm having is that my thumb hurts and gets tired when playing barre chords, due to i am pressing my finger against eachother with the neck in between to hold the barre chord to get all the strings to give a sound, is there anyway to help that with an exercise? or am i doing it wrong?

gringopollocogringopolloco replied

Dave, can you use fingers 3 and 4 in place of 2 and 3 for both the F minor and G minor chords? Its seems to be much easier for me. If I use fingers 3 and 4 instead will this limit more advanced techniques down the road?

ssomervillessomerville replied

Did help quite a bit to lower the action. Still feel like I have to be a contortionist to align my fingers properly without getting a bad note. Puts alot of strain on my wrist starting to hurt!

ssomervillessomerville replied

What really helped me was to position fingers 2,3 and 4 in place. Go down the 4 strings and make sure they all ring true. Slowly add your index (!st) finger untill you get a good sound from the 1st string. Go down each string 4 through 1 making sure each sounds right. If all is good, lay your index down alittle more to fret the 5th string. Go down each making sure the sound is true..Hope this helps, it did me!

paulmccherrypaulmccherry replied

I find that the 1st and2nd strings are muffled due to the fleshy part of my finger not pressing the strings down hard enough on the fret board. Im using the second finger to try to apply more pressure but I seem to be doing a whole lot more work than I expect is normal and im still getting muffled 1st and 2 nd strings. Im using a cheap Ibanez Gio to practice, just wondering if either my fingers arnt used to this or the guitar doesnt lend itself well to this ?

paulmccherrypaulmccherry replied

bah third string is muffled also, im currently practicing by going backwards and forwards between b minor and c minor but not seeing any vast improvement :(

david.mackenziedavid.mackenzie replied

check and see if your guitar string height(action) is too high off the fretboard. that makes it really hard to barre chords. maybe just bring the action down some. also handwise, you may not be extending your fretting hand out away from the neck enough so you can properly postion your hand to make things easier to do. your thumb should be more toward the middle of the neck. hope that helps, let me know.

paulmccherrypaulmccherry replied

hi dave, im definetly improving, still a few bum notes but extending my hand from the fretboard has helped. I would try adjusting the action but not sure how and would be worried about messing the guitar up so I will continue practcing barre'ing for a few more days before I resort to that. But from not being able to barre at all at the weekend I am making some headway. :)

joephaserjoephaser replied

Great Lesson, I love that guitar!

pinoyboy2829pinoyboy2829 replied

another amazing lesson, i like how you show u can play the other chords using other finger positioning and the location on the fretboard, really helped alot

metalheadmclovinmetalheadmclovin replied

Woah your pick guard really scared me for a minute. Its really shiny like a mirror and I saw the person filming you. Anyways, great lesson.

caseharr33caseharr33 replied

Another great lesson Thanks so much

david.mackenziedavid.mackenzie replied

your welcome, glad to help!

rockgod825rockgod825 replied

i cant get the f minor!!!!!!!

david.mackenziedavid.mackenzie replied

what i said below applies to you as well!!!

david.mackenziedavid.mackenzie replied

keep after it, that one is a hard one!!! takes time and practise! dont give up!!!

santogd182santogd182 replied

Dave do you have any tips on how to bar a whole fret because I seem to be having trouble getting the cords with bars to sound right?

mattmc12001mattmc12001 replied

it helps alot to go through each string individually and make sure that it is not muffled and you can manipulate your fingers so they are in the right position

david.mackenziedavid.mackenzie replied

barring across the whole neck is not easy at first! so dont get too frustrated. 1st just make sure your thumb is more behind the neck and not hanging over the top of the neck. this will help. 2nd, sometimes if you press too hard, it just makes it harder to do, so just medium pressure. if that aint working, make sure the action(string to fretboard distance) is'nt too high. i dont know what kind of guitar you have. but you can always take it to music store and have them adjust it down a little if needed. 3rd strum while you put pressure down on the strings and compare what pressure works best wher you get the best barring for chords. hope that helps!!!

mattmc12001mattmc12001 replied

ahh so much to remember i just got the major chords down and i feel like im at step one again. Its a lot of fun though

khalifa247khalifa247 replied

Haha these ones are a lot harder. Practice makes perfect though

godstwingodstwin replied

Be sure to tuck your elbow in close to your body, it helps out a lot!

firemedic510firemedic510 replied

OMG my short chubby fingers! that made my hair catch fire. i need new hands.

david.mackenziedavid.mackenzie replied

keep at it, you will get it!!!

max24max24 replied

omg that is so hard

Basic Electric Guitar

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

In his Phase 1 series, David MacKenzie will walk you through the basics of rock guitar.

About the GuitarLesson 1

About the Guitar

David discusses the parts of the guitar. He also gives you some basic techniques to get you started.

Length: 31:00 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Power ChordsLesson 2

Power Chords

In this lesson, David introduces basic power chords. Great fun for beginners!

Length: 10:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Basic Chord ProgressionsLesson 3

Basic Chord Progressions

David introduces some basic chords and chord progressions.

Length: 14:15 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Notes, Chords and ArpeggiosLesson 4

Notes, Chords and Arpeggios

David provides a brief explanation of what notes, chords, power chords, and arpeggios are.

Length: 8:12 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Speed and CoordinationLesson 5

Speed and Coordination

This lesson is all about increasing your speed and coordination. David demonstrates basic picking exercises.

Length: 14:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Chord ExercisesLesson 6

Chord Exercises

David MacKenzie presents a mysterious sounding chord exercise. This exerices is designed to improve right hand technique.

Length: 9:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Practice and DisciplineLesson 7

Practice and Discipline

In this short lesson David talks about practice, discipline, and how you should apply yourself when learning and mastering the guitar.

Length: 6:00 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Double StopsLesson 8

Double Stops

Double stops can bring new life to your rhythm and lead playing. David provides a short tutorial on what double stops are and how they can be used.

Length: 7:12 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The Major ChordsLesson 9

The Major Chords

David covers the basic major chord shapes. Every guitarist must learn these basic chords.

Length: 18:29 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The Minor ChordsLesson 10

The Minor Chords

David MacKenzie walks you through the basic minor chords. Expand your knowledge of chords with this fun-filled lesson.

Length: 8:15 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Major ScalesLesson 11

Major Scales

Major scales are an essential component of all styles of music. They can also be used as a great way to orient yourself with the fretboard.

Length: 32:12 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Major Scale JamLesson 12

Major Scale Jam

David MacKenzie explains how to practice the major scales along with a fun backing track.

Length: 11:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
The Minor ScalesLesson 13

The Minor Scales

David MacKenzie proceeds to an in-depth discussion of the minor scales.

Length: 15:36 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Minor Scale JamLesson 14

Minor Scale Jam

David MacKenzie shows you how to play the natural minor scale over a rockin' JamTrack.

Length: 6:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
One String ExerciseLesson 15

One String Exercise

David demonstrates an excellent one-string exercise in this lesson. This exercise will improve your dexterity and knowledge of the fretboard.

Length: 16:48 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Hammer-Ons and Pull-OffsLesson 16

Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs

Hammer-ons and pull-offs are techniques that enable you to play with a smooth, legato feel.

Length: 8:27 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Basic BendsLesson 17

Basic Bends

David MacKenzie gives a crash course on bending in this lesson. Bends can add a lot of soul to your playing.

Length: 16:12 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Cool Rock LicksLesson 18

Cool Rock Licks

David MacKenzie teaches two rock licks inspired by Yngwie Malmsteen and Kirk Hammett of Metallica.

Length: 12:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Hammer-On ExerciseLesson 19

Hammer-On Exercise

David returns to the world of hammer-ons with a fun new exercise. This lesson includes a JamTrack.

Length: 13:56 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Return to Pull-OffsLesson 20

Return to Pull-Offs

David returns to the world of pull-offs with a new exercise. This lesson includes a backing track.

Length: 12:50 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Practicing BendsLesson 21

Practicing Bends

David MacKenzie returns to bending technique in this lesson. This lesson features a backing track that is designed for bending practice.

Length: 12:18 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Basic VibratoLesson 22

Basic Vibrato

Integrating vibrato into your guitar playing is a great way to add emotion and soul. David MacKenzie explains the basics of vibrato in this lesson.

Length: 9:12 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Pentatonic ScaleLesson 23

Pentatonic Scale

David MacKenzie introduces the pentatonic scale.

Length: 5:48 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Minor Pentatonic ScaleLesson 24

Minor Pentatonic Scale

David MacKenzie introduces the minor pentatonic scale in this lesson.

Length: 4:38 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Full Major ScaleLesson 25

Full Major Scale

David MacKenzie explains a two octave pattern of the major scale.

Length: 11:31 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Full Minor ScaleLesson 26

Full Minor Scale

David MacKenzie introduces a two octave natural minor scale pattern.

Length: 12:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Full Major Pentatonic ScaleLesson 27

Full Major Pentatonic Scale

David teaches a two octave pattern of the major pentatonic scale.

Length: 6:30 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Full Minor Pentatonic ScaleLesson 28

Full Minor Pentatonic Scale

David MacKenzie teaches a two octave version of the minor pentatonic scale.

Length: 9:20 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Cool LickLesson 29

Cool Lick

David MacKenzie teaches several licks based on common arpeggio patterns. This lesson also includes a backing track to jam with.

Length: 20:40 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Rhythm BasicsLesson 30

Rhythm Basics

David MacKenzie introduces some important rhythm basics in this lesson. This lesson also includes a backing track exercise.

Length: 14:55 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Power Chord VariationsLesson 31

Power Chord Variations

David MacKenzie explains various power chord voicings. By simply moving a finger or two, new power chords can be formed.

Length: 18:43 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Cool Lick ExerciseLesson 32

Cool Lick Exercise

David MacKenzie introduces some new amazing licks.

Length: 29:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Tapping ExerciseLesson 33

Tapping Exercise

David MacKenzie introduces the tapping technique and teaches a fun exercise. This lesson includes a backing track.

Length: 22:44 Difficulty: 2.5 FREE
Tapping Exercise #2Lesson 34

Tapping Exercise #2

David MacKenzie teaches another amazing tapping exercise.

Length: 13:07 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Tapping #3:  Adding Open StringsLesson 35

Tapping #3: Adding Open Strings

The third tapping lesson elaborates on the previous lesson by adding open strings.

Length: 12:59 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Tapping #4:  Diminished Lick Lesson 36

Tapping #4: Diminished Lick

The fourth lesson in Dave's tapping series deals with a monster diminished lick.

Length: 11:02 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Tapping #5Lesson 37

Tapping #5

In lesson five of his tapping mini-series, DMac provides backing tracks that you can tap over.

Length: 8:04 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Tremolo TechniqueLesson 38

Tremolo Technique

In lesson 38, DMac demonstrates some tremolo techniques to add to your repertoire.

Length: 13:54 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Tapping #6Lesson 39

Tapping #6

DMac returns to his tapping instruction with more advanced techniques.

Length: 19:54 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Chord StructuresLesson 40

Chord Structures

In lesson 40, DMac teaches you how to play various D chords all the way up the neck.

Length: 9:20 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
OctavesLesson 41


In lesson 41, David discusses the octave and its uses while playing.

Length: 17:09 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
David MacKenzie

About David MacKenzie View Full Biography Dave MacKenzie has been playing guitar for 30 of his 45 years on this earth. Starting back when he was 14 years old, Dave picked up the guitar and started to learn from his oldest brother, who had played some guitar as well. Dave was hooked, and couldn't learn fast enough! Everything from the Beatles, Chicago, Ted Nugent, The Eagles, you name it, Dave was trying to play it.

Then as with a lot of players out there, Eddie Van Halen came along and changed the way guitar was played! Dave has been influenced by anyone he has heard play guitar, literally! Always keeping an open mind and a humbleness about him has helped him to keep learning new things on, and about the guitar.

Dave has mostly played in top 40 rock, country, and pop bands. He is most recently playing guitar and keyboards in a 80's metal band called Open Fire. They have opened for Warrant, Firehouse, Winger, and LA Guns within the 3 and a half years they have been together, and are now jumping into original music.

Dave believes you should have internal motivation, and passion to play guitar, and most definitely, it should be fun!

As with his playing, Dave will find new ways to show you how to get the most out of your time learning guitar!

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