The Gm chord on the guitar

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How to play the open position Gm chord and CAGED Gm shape

The open-position Gm chord is not very common at all, extremely few songs use this chord. I use it when I play Starman, however, David Bowie didn’t.

The only song I can think of that has a Gm shape in it is All My Life by Foo Fighters.

But I didn’t discover the Gm chord through either of these songs, I found it through understanding the CAGED system.

This was an extremely important discovery as without having 5 positions of the chords, just like we have five positions of the Minor Pentatonic, I couldn’t fully understand the fretboard.

Above is a Chordacus image of the Gm chord in the open position, as well as a moveable shape.

Isn’t it strange that nobody ever used the open position Gm chord in the history of famous songs?

As a moveable chord shape, it’s a bit stretchy and doesn’t work. Let’s look at how we can extend it as it then becomes just as good as all other CAGED chords.

Gm chord extensions

We can’t extend to any 9 chords as a 9 would only be possible on the same string as we have the m3rd.

These are all possible Gm-shaped chord extensions.

  • Gm chord (root, 5th, m3rd, 5th)
  • Gm7 (root, m3rd, b7, root)
  • Gm7b5 (root, b7, m3rd, b5)
  • Gdim7 (root, b5, bb7, m3rd)
  • Gmmaj7 (root, m3rd, 5th, 7)
  • Gm6 (root, 6, m3rd, 5th)
  • Gm11 (root, b7, 9, 11)

It’s a great start to just play all these chords, and try them all out, but it won’t be enough. To fully understand them, you must relate them to songs or you won’t remember their unique sound.

I’ve mentioned Starman earlier, the first chord of the verse can be an open Gm chord.

Gmmaj7 is extremely unusual but perhaps the easiest of all chords to remember once you play it and think of James Bond. Ain’t No Sunshine uses a Gm-shaped Ammaj7 chord for the 2nd guitar as a final chord.

Building scales and arpeggios around the Gm chord/shape

You can play a min7, and min7b5 arpeggio by first visualizing the Gm chord shape, then filling in appropriate intervals around it.

The same goes for Minor pentatonic, simply add all intervals.

Once you have your Minor Pentatonic framework, you can build all remaining minor scales.

  • Blues, add b5
  • Conspirian, add b5 and maj7
  • Dorian, add 2 and 6
  • Aeolian, add 2 and b6
  • Phrygian, add b2 and b6

Here’s a diagram that shows you all intervals.

All possible minor arpeggio and scale intervals using the CAGED system

There are exercises to practice all this in the SEPR, a module you get when you sign up for my guitar courses.

In the courses, we play and learn from songs. Part of that is to move the chords, melodies, and licks around the fretboard, always trying out all shapes.

Doing this will teach you how to play in this Gm shape musically. Only playing exercises won’t be enough.

Here are all stages you need to go through to master this shape:

  • Play the Gm shape as an open-position chord
  • Make it a moveable chord shape
  • See all the intervals in the chord shape (root, 5, m3rd, 5)
  • Extend to all possible chords
  • Build the two arpeggios
  • Build all scales
  • Try them in songs

The final point is the most important.

The guitar courses are all about building great habits so you in the end can do all this straight away with any new song that you come across.

I hope to see you there so we can get to work on the Gm shape and all other CAGED chord shapes.

The Gm Chord | Related Pages

Guitar chords

You can learn how to build all minor and major guitar chords using the so-called CAGED system.

This is the foundation upon which we learn to extend chords and build arpeggios and modes as well.

The G chord

Open position G chord, barre chord shape and extensions

The most misunderstood chord of all CAGED chords must be the seemingly straightforward G chord.

Having several options in its open position form, it becomes impossible to fret in its full glory, once turned into a moveable shape.

Intermediate Acoustic

Intermediate Acoustic Songs

Most intermediate acoustic tunes can’t be played using just basic open-position chords. We have to move up the fretboard and play CAGED barre chords as well.

We incorporate bass lines, add licks, extend chords, and play vocal melodies. Most importantly, we’ll invent second guitar parts and play these songs together.


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