Gm Chord on the Guitar (G Minor) – 10 Ways to Play (and Some Tips/Theory)

The G minor chord is a very popular chord on the guitar. The chord actually contains two notes that can be played on open strings (G and D), which means that you can technically play the Gm chord as an open chord (see the first shape in the image below). However, the open version of Gm is somewhat awkward, and almost never used. Instead, Playing Gm as a bar chord on the 3rd fret, is a much more common way of playing the chord. 

Gm is the relative minor of B flat Major, which is a common key, especially in certain styles, such as Jazz.

Some Quick Gm Chord Theory

  • The G minor chord contains the notes G, Bb and D.
  • The G minor chord is produced by playing the 1st (root), flat 3rd and 5th notes of the G Major scale.
  • The G minor chord (just like all minor chords) contains the following intervals (from the root note): minor 3rd, Major 3rd, Perfect 4th (back to the root note).
  • G minor is the relative minor of Bb Major.
  • G minor is the first chord in the key of G minor. The seven chords in the key of G minor are: Gm, A diminished, Bb+, Cm, D, Eb, F# diminished

10 Ways To Play The G Minor Chord

If you’ve come to this page just to view some chord diagrams for Gm, here they are.

G Minor Chord - 10 Shapes

Standard Gm Chord Shape

The most common way to play the G minor chord is as a root-6 minor barre chord, starting in the third fret.

G Minor Chord Guitar

Easy Gm Chord Shape

The ‘easy’ or ‘mini’ version of the G minor chord is achieved by playing the first three strings of the guitar, all in the third fret. This can be used as an easy alternative to the more difficult barre chord shape (pictured above).

Easy G Minor Chord Guitar

How to Play the Gm Chord (Step by Step)

  • Place your first finger on the third fret of the sixth string and barre all six strings.
  • Place your third finger on the fifth fret of the fifth string.
  • Place your fourth finger on the fifth fret of the fourth string.
  • Strum all six strings.

The instructions above are step by step instructions for playing the common G minor chord shape. Forming the chord through step by step instructions is a great way of ensuring that you are interpreting the chord diagram correctly.

G Minor Barre Chord Shapes

The Gm chord can be played as a barre chord by playing a root 6 barre chord shape and starting on the 3rd fret or by playing a root 5 barre chord Major shape and starting on the 10th fret:

Gm Barre Chord

G Minor Triads

Playing triads is a great way of exploring the minor chord and the guitar fretboard more generally. By arranging the notes of the chord systematically using permutations (root position, first inversion, second inversion), interesting and unique shapes and voicings are created. The three different voicings for the G minor triad are:

  • G minor Triad (Root Position) – G, Bb, D
  • G minor Triad (1st Inversion) – Bb, D, G
  • G minor Triad (2nd Inversion) – D, G, Bb

By playing these triads on two different groups of three strings, we can produce six different shapes.

G Minor Triad

Which Keys Have The Gm chord in Them?

The Gm chord can be found in the following keys:

  • The key of G minor (Gm, Adim, Bb, Cm, Dm, Eb, F)
  • The key of C minor (Cm, Ddim, Eb, Fm, Gm, Ab, Bb)
  • The key of D minor (Dm, Edim, F, Gm, Am, Bb, C)
  • The key of Bb Major (Bb, Cm, Dm, Eb, F, Gm, Adim)
  • The key of Eb Major (Eb, Fm, Gm, Ab, Bb, Cm, Ddim)
  • The key of F Major (F, Gm, Am, Bb, C, Dm, Edim)

Alternative But Useful Gm Chord Shapes

The following shapes are alternative ways of playing the G minor chord shape. They’re not the most common Gm shapes, but used enough to include here as interesting alternatives.

Alterative G Minor Chords Guitar

Gm Chord Substitutions

Most G minor chords with extensions can be used as a substitute for the G minor chord. For example, Gm9, Gm11 and Gm6 can often be used to add colour and emotion to the G minor chord.

The Gm7 chord is quite often used interchangeably with the Gm chord.

For more interesting substitutions, playing variations of the Bb chord (which is the relative Major of G minor), such as Bb6, Bb69, Bbmaj9 etc. can be used effectively as a substitute for the G minor chord.

Which Scales Can Be Played Over the G Minor Chord?

The most common and effective scales that can be used to solo/improvise over the G minor chord, or to create melodies for the purposes of song writing are:

  • G natural minor scale – This scale (also called G aeolian) is the most commonly used scale for this chord.
  • G minor pentatonic scale – This is probably the easiest scale to learn and get started on when improvising over the G minor chord..
  • G minor blues scale – This scale can be used over the Gm chord to add a Blues flavour. 
  • G dorian mode – This scale can be used to add a slightly brighter sound to the G minor chord.
  • G phrygian mode – This scale can be used to add a darker sound to the G minor chord.

Further Reading

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