C#m7 Guitar Chord – Finger Positions, How-to, Variations

One of the fantastic ways of spicing up your progression is through the included use of seventh chords. Minor seventh chords, like our C#m7 chord, in particular, are great at supplying this smooth and sophisticated vibe often heard in jazz music. Furthermore, the C#m7 chord supplies a little bit of challenge to beginner guitarists, who are looking to improve their finger strength and bolster their chord repertoire. As you read on, we’ll go over how this chord is played, and a little bit of the music theory behind it. Let’s dive in!

How to Play the C#m7 Chord

Before we cut to how this chord is played, it’s worth noting that one of the really neat things about the guitar is the number of ways we can play the same chord. We call these our different chord variations. Chord variations, not to be confused with inversions, don’t merely flip a chord on its head, changing the bottom note of the chord. Instead, chord variations may include any of the notes used within the natural chord, as well as the same note being used enharmonically.

“So, if a variation is just the same chord, why should you play it?” Here are a few good reasons:

It fits better with the chord progression. To maintain a steady chord progression that flows smoothly, it might help to play chords around the same area of the fretboard. For instance, if you’re chord progression hangs around the 2nd fret, why play something around the 7th fret? It might not always make sense, however, that choice is up to the guitarist – which may even depend on your skill level. It might even have to do with the pitch, as chords might generally sound better when they’re within the same pitch class as another.

Your skill level as a guitarist. It might even come down to your playing experience, as some chords might just be too difficult right now to pull off in a chord progression. In this case, you might opt for something that feels slightly more comfortable, and something you can play confidently. However, this may even go the opposite way, in which case, you might try a more challenging variation as a way to improve your abilities.

The tonal qualities. While, yes, each chord variation is technically the same chord, they all carry a slightly different sound. A lot of this has to do with the tone and color each variation can produce, due to notes being played enharmonically within the chord. Some variations bring out these different tones and colors better than others.

Your personal preference. It might just come down to what you like. We all have our favorite chords that we might feel a particular bias towards, which may be based on any of the aforementioned factors. At the end of the day, there are no wrong answers, and you should play what you like, and what you think sounds best!

Now, without further ado, let’s try playing the C#m7 chord and a couple of its variations:

3. Cm7 Chord Open Note
Chord chart of the C#m7 chord in the open note position.

4. Cm7 Chord Fourth Fret
Chord chart of the C#m7 chord in the fourth fret position.

5. Cm7 Chord Ninth Fret Position
Chord chart of the C#m7 chord in the ninth fret position.

Trouble With Chord Charts?

If you’re new to chord charts, this might make you feel slightly overwhelmed. Don’t fret. Learning chord charts is relatively easy, and will serve you for years to come! Let’s begin by bringing our attention to the big rectangular square, containing a number of vertical and horizontal lines; this represents our fretboard. Each vertical line contained within represents a different string on the guitar. From the left to the right, we have our low E, A, D, G, B, and high E strings. Each horizontal line, however, separates one fret from the next.

Within the frets, and on top of the strings, you’ll notice a circle containing a number anywhere from 1 – 4; these represent our fingers and where they need to be to complete our chord. The number 1 represents our index finger. The number 2 represents our middle finger. The number 3 represents our ring finger. Finally, the number 4 represents our pinky finger. In some cases, you might notice a long dark bar stretching across a number of strings; this indicates you’re to form a barre, a necessary component of forming a “barre chord”. To successfully form a barre, simply drape your index finger over a grouping of strings and apply pressure.

Bringing our attention to the top of the fretboard, particularly the strings, you may notice an “O’ or an “X”. If there’s an “O” present, then that indicates that you’re to play an open note (a string to be played but not fretted). If, however, there’s an “X” present, then you’re not to play that string to complete the chord. Finally, bringing our attention to the left of the fretboard, you may see a number present. The number indicates the starting fret in forming our chord. If there are no numbers present, then it’s generally implied that you’re starting from the open note position.

That’s all there is to it!

Breakdown of the C#m7 Chord

The C#m7 chord, otherwise known as the C sharp minor seventh chord, carries a smooth and elegant sound, commonly used across jazz, and blues music. However, it isn’t uncommon within other genres where the artist is seeking to capture the same aesthetic, or simply looking to add another layer of tension within a chord progression. Genres, such as soul, R&B, and hip hop, may also use this chord.

So what is the C#m7 chord?

In a nutshell, the C#m7 chord contains a C# minor triad, with a minor seventh stacked on top, from the tonic. If that sounded too confusing, don’t worry, we’ll cover it in more depth.

To better understand how the C#m7 chord works, we should come to understand three fundamental components that form the foundation around this chord: the key, scale, and triad.

Let’s begin with our key. The key can be described as a grouping of musical pitches, no different than what you’d find within a scale. How are these pitches defined? That’s where our key signature comes into play. Every key has its own key signature, often visually represented by a collection of sharps (#) and flats (b) that come after the clef on a piece of sheet music. If a note is marked as sharp, then it’s to be raised by a semitone. If a note is marked flat, however, then it’s to be lowered by a semitone.

How do we define which notes are to be sharp or flat within a key signature? That’s where it may help to consult the circle of fifths.

6. Circle of Fifths

Diagram of the circle of fifths, displaying all of the most commonly used keys.

The circle of fifths is a wheel-shaped diagram, displaying all of the most commonly used keys and their corresponding key signatures. Within the wheel, you’ll notice two rings; the inner ring houses all of our minor keys, while the outer ring contains all of our relative major keys (keys with a different root note, but contain the same key signature). Starting from A minor, and going clockwise around the wheel, you’ll notice that every key gains an additional sharp to its key signature. On the other end of the spectrum, starting form A minor again, going counterclockwise, you’ll notice that every key gains an additional flat to its key signature. Since, however, we’re in the key of C# minor, we’ll be focusing on the right half of the wheel.

How do we figure out what the sharps are within a certain key? We use a simple acronym: FCGDAEB. This stands for:

“Father, Charles, Goes, Down, And, Ends, Battle”

The idea is that the first letter of each word represents a different note that is to be made sharp, in sequence. Here is how that sequence appears in the circle of fifths:

a = No sharps or flats.

e = F#

b = F#, C#

f# = F#, C#, G#

c# = F#, C#, G#, D#

g# = F#, C#, G#, D#, A#

d# = F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#

a# = F#, C#,G#, D#, A#, E#, B#

For instance, if you were in the key of B minor, containing 2 sharps, using the acronym (and your fingers!), we’d go “Father, Charles…” therefore, the key signature of B minor is F# and C#. Let’s try again with G# minor, containing 5 sharps. Using the acronym with your fingers again, “Father, Charles, Goes, Down, And…” therefore, the key signature of G# minor is F#, C#, G#, D#, and A#.

Using this same method for the key we’re in, we can deduce that the key signature of C# minor, containing four sharps, is F#, C#, G#, and D#. Now, let’s throw together our C# minor scale:

C# > D# > E > F# > G# > A > B > C#

Minor scales carry a strict pattern of tones (T) and semitones (S) that they always follow. Here is how that sequence appears:

T > S > T > T > S > T > T

As you can see, the first interval C# > D# is a tone apart. However, the second interval D# > E is a semitone apart; the key signature of C# changes D to D#. The third and fourth intervals, E > F#, and F# > G# are both tones apart. As we know E > F is normally a semitone apart, however, due to the key signature, F becomes F#, shifting it away a semitone further. The fifth interval, G# > A is a semitone apart. Finally, the sixth and seventh intervals, A > B, and B > C# are both tones apart. It never fails!

Now, let’s try playing our C# minor scale, using tablature:

7. C minor Scale
Guitar tablature of the C# minor scale, ascending and descending.

Trouble With Tablature?

Guitar tablature, also known as “tab”, is an effective means for guitarists with little to no musical background to write, share, and learn some of their favorite songs and exercises. In fact, you might look at tablature as a more simplistic alternative to sheet music, requiring no musical notation.

Let’s first bring our attention to the six horizontal lines; each of these lines represents a different string on the guitar. From the bottom to the top, we have our low E, A, D, G, B, and high E strings. On the lines, you’ll notice some numbers; these indicate which fret you’re supposed to play on the corresponding string. For instance, if you have the number 3 on the A string, then you’re to play the third fret of the A string. If you have the number 5 of the high E string, then you’re to play the fifth fret of the high E string. If, however, there’s a number 0 on any string, then that means you’re to play an open note (a string to be played but not fretted).

That’s all there is to it!

Scale Degrees

Now that we’ve covered a lot about our C# minor scale, it’s important to note that every note within plays an important role. We call these notes our different scale degrees. Each degree contains its own unique name, to help musicians refer back to them with ease. Here are the various scale degrees within the C# minor scale:

C# = Tonic (1st Degree)
D# = Supertonic (2nd Degree)

E = Mediant (3rd Degree)

F# = Subdominant (4th Degree)

G# = Dominant (5th Degree)

A = Submediant (6th Degree)

B = Leading Tone (7th Degree)

C# = Tonic (1st Degree/Octave)

Let’s talk about each degree in a little more depth. Our first degree, the tonic, is our tonal center, our home. The tonic is where things feel calm, and tend to resolve after tension. The second degree, the supertonic, is a tension-building degree, sharing two notes with our subdominant triad. The third degree, the mediant, shares two notes with the tonic triad, making it a great degree for drawing the tonic out further. The fourth degree, the subdominant, is our tension building degree, sharing only one note with our tonic triad, C#. The subdominant will typically escalate to an even greater tension, which will bring us to our next degree. The fifth degree, the dominant, is our most important degree, next to our tonic. This degree, is typically the climax, holding the most tension within a chord progression, and will naturally want to resolve home to our tonic. Next, we have our sixth degree, the submediant. This degree acts as a predominant degree, sharing two notes with the tonic triad, and two notes with the subdominant triad. The seventh degree, the leading tone, important for building our seventh chords, holds a great deal of tension. In fact, try playing the C major scale, and ending on B; your ears will want to hear it resolve back to C. Finally, we’re back home on the tonic, just an octave higher from where we began.


A triad is a type of chord containing three notes played simultaneously. Within a minor triad, we take the tonic, mediant, and dominant degrees (1st, 3rd, and 5th degrees) or our minor scale, and stack them on top of each other. This gives us the notes: C#, E, and G#.

Minor triads contain intervals that give them their characteristically sad, and melancholy sound. Here are the intervals within our C# minor triad:


  • Minor 3rd – Between the 1st and 3rd degrees. C# > E.
  • Major 3rd – Between the 3rd and 5th degrees. E > G#.
  • Perfect 5th – Between the 1st and 5th degrees. C# > G#.

If you wanted to convert the C# minor triad to a C#m7 chord, you simply need to take the seventh degree of our C# minor scale and stack it on top of the triad. This gives us the notes: C#, E, G#, and B.

Finding Chords Compatible With C# minor

Building chord progressions from scratch can be a challenge that most musicians endure at some point or another. Thankfully, there’s a process to make this a little bit easier! Using our newly acquired knowledge of triads, we’ll stack one on each degree of the C# minor scale:

C# minor = C#, E, G# (Tonic/1st Degree)
D# diminished = D#, F#, A (Supertonic/2nd Degree)

E Major = E, G#, B (Mediant/3rd Degree)

F# minor = F#, A, C# (Subdominant/4th Degree)

G# minor = G#, B, D# (Dominant/5th Degree)

A Major = A, C#, E (Submediant/6th Degree)

B Major = B, D#, F# (Leading Tone/7th Degree)

These are all of the chords you can use in the key of C# minor! However, while this may be useful, you might still feel stuck. In which case, you might want to consider some tried and true chord progressions! Here are a few examples:

i – iv – v = C#m > F#m > G#m

i – VI – VII = C#m > A > B

ii – v – i = D#m7b5 > G#m > C#m

C#min7 to C#maj7

We’ve gone over quite a bit about the C#min7 chord, however, what about its minor counterpart, C#maj7? Firstly, it’s important to note the relationship between C# minor, and C# major is of a parallel key relationship. This means, that while they share the same tonic, they contain different key signatures. This differs from the relationship that C# minor shares with E major; while they have different tonics, they share the same key signatures.

Looking at the circle of fifths, we can see that the key of C# major contains all seven sharps in its key signature, different than C# minor containing four sharps. Let’s lay out the C# major scale:

C# > D# > E# > F# > G# > A# > B# > C#

Much in the way minor scales do, major scales also contain their own strict pattern of tones (T) and semitones (S). Here is how that sequence appears:

T > T > S > T > T > T > S

Since in the key of C# major, we have all seven sharps, it might help to look at this for a moment like a C natural major scale. The first two intervals, C# > D#, and D# > E# are both tones apart. The third interval, E# > F# is a semitone apart; remember it doesn’t change since they both have sharps. The fourth, fifth, and sixth intervals, F# > G#, G# > A#, and A# > B# are all tones. Finally, the seventh interval, B# > C# is a semitone. It always checks out!

When forming a major triad, we do the same as before, we take our tonic, mediant, and dominant degrees (1st, 3rd, and 5th degrees) of the major scale, and stack them on top of each other. In the key of C# major, this gives us the notes: C#, E#, and G#.

Major triads contain their own specific intervals that give their chords their characteristically happy sound:


  • Major 3rd – Between the 1st and 3rd degrees. C# > E#.
  • Minor 3rd – Between the 3rd and 5th degrees. E# > G#.
  • Perfect 5th – Between the 1st and 5th degrees. C# > G#.

Do you see the difference? It’s reversed! The first interval of a major triad, is a major 3rd, while in a minor triad, it’s a minor 3rd. The second interval of a major triad is a minor 3rd, while in a minor triad, it’s a major 3rd. The perfect 5th remains the same in both!

If, however, we want to convert our C# major triad into a C#maj7 chord, as before, we stack the seventh degree of the C# major scale on top. This gives us the notes: C#, E#, G#, and B#.

Now, let’s try playing our C#maj7 chord:

8. Cmaj7 Chord First Fret
Chord chart of the C#maj7 chord played from the first fret position.


Now you have all of the tools to get started with your brand-new seventh chord! Learning new chords is always a fun way to expand on your abilities as a musician, as well as a fantastic way of teaching yourself more about guitar, and music theory as a whole. It’s important to pace yourself when you’re practicing, and to take appropriate breaks! Playing the guitar should feel fun, and not like a chore. What new chords will you learn? Wherever your musical endeavors take you, keep on rockin’.

1. Cm7 Chord Cover Image