How to Play Minor CAGED Forms on the Guitar

Just as you use the CAGED arpeggios to form major chord voicings on the guitar, you can do the same with minor arpeggios. You lower all the 3rds in each arpeggio pattern to minor 3rds (♭ó3rds). This simple adjustment changes everything from major to minor. You then fret and play different kinds of minor chord voicings with each of the five minor CAGED forms.

Adding the minor CAGED forms to the majors is a lot to pile on your plate, especially if all the major forms haven’t yet sunk in completely. Work through this slowly, or save the minor forms for another time.

Playing the C minor form

Compare the original C form (major)to the Cm form (the m stands for minor). As you can see, the Cm form uses the same arpeggio pattern as the C form except with minor 3rds. You also see some sample minor chord voicings. Notice that the actual chord in this position is Dm.

In fact, a basic open Dm chord is commonly used shape all over the neck. Remember to only play the black dots in examples like this.

[Credit: Illustration courtesy of Desi Serna]
Credit: Illustration courtesy of Desi Serna

Playing the A minor form

In this position, the actual chords are C and C minor. You can also see a commonly used minor chord voicing. Notice that it’s a standard minor barre chord. This barre chord is often reduced to only strings 1 to 3.

[Credit: Illustration courtesy of Desi Serna]
Credit: Illustration courtesy of Desi Serna

Playing the G minor form

Here, you see the original G form, followed by the same arpeggio pattern with minor 3rds (or Gm form). In this position, the actual chords are A and A minor. You can see one way to get a useable barre chord out of it. Check out the unique Dm in Gm form that appears in the song “So Much to Say” by Dave Matthews Band.

[Credit: Illustration courtesy of Desi Serna]
Credit: Illustration courtesy of Desi Serna

Playing the E minor form

Here is the original E form, followed by the same arpeggio pattern with minor 3rds (or Em form). In this position, the actual chords are G and G minor. There is also a sample minor chord voicing, which is a standard minor barre chord. This barre chord is often reduced to just strings 1 through 3.

[Credit: Illustration courtesy of Desi Serna]
Credit: Illustration courtesy of Desi Serna

Playing the D minor form

Here is the original D form, followed by the same arpeggio pattern with minor 3rds (Dm form). In this position, the actual chords are F and F minor. Check out the sample minor chord voicing, which is a full Dm shape when played in the open position. Notice that this shape shares a lot in common with the Cm form.

[Credit: Illustration courtesy of Desi Serna]
Credit: Illustration courtesy of Desi Serna
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