The C major chord on the guitar is an essential chord to learn about. You will certainly apply this chord in lots of songs, and thus learning it well is important if you would like to play songs on the guitar.
On this page, I will teach you several easy ways to play the C major chord in case you're a beginner. You will also discover more difficult variations of the C major guitar chord at the bottom of the lesson, along with the barre chord versions.
We should start out with some simple music theory about the C major guitar chord.
Chords are made up of 3 musical notes, implying you need to play three notes to form the C major chord. All these notes are derived from the C major scale.
You will find several chord charts on this page. The numbers on the dots will tell you which finger goes where:
- The 1st finger will be your index finger
- The 2nd finger will be your middle finger
- The 3rd finger is your ring finger
- The 4th finger will be the pinky
If you're not acquainted with deciphering chord charts yet, learn them first.
Quickly learn how to hold down the C major chord on guitar
Here are several ways to play the C major chord on the guitar.
Quick tip: An easy way to become familiar with a brand new guitar chord is to use the chord-on/chord-off method. You simply need to hold down the chord, strum the strings, let go, and start over.
Practice each voicing loads, and you will master all of them soon.
Simplest C major chord for inexperienced players
This is basically the easiest way to hold down the C major guitar chord. As you will observe from the chord chart below, you only need one finger to play this particular chord.
Very simple C major chord fingering
Here is how to play the C major chord:
- Place your 1st finger onto string B at fret 1.
- Play strings G and high E open.
- DO not play the lowest 3 strings.
Next, pluck each string in the chord, and make certain all of the notes are clear.
Congrats, you can play a C major chord!
The sound might seem a tad thin, but that's because you are playing just a few guitar strings. Fuller sounding versions of the C major are coming.
Standard C major chord
This variation of the C major chord is reasonably more difficult, but it sounds much fuller. Provided you can hold down the easy alternative mentioned above, you should really start discovering this variation also.
Full C major chord fingering
Here is how to hold down the full variant of the C major chord:
- Place your 1st finger on string B at fret 1.
- Place your 2nd finger onto string D at fret 2.
- Your 3rd finger will go to string A on fret 3.
Pluck each string in the chord, and ensure each and every note is ringing cleanly.
This is the most commonly used chord shape of the C major guitar chord.
Everytime you hear somebody say "Play the C major chord", this is probably the shape that they are pertaining to.
It will seem like a stretch at first, but with practice, it will become natural. I remember learning this chord, and it seemed impossible. And behold, now it's easy.
C guitar chord variation
So here's another variation of the C major chord, this is a popular one as well. It is actually a C add 9, not a C major, but it can be used as well.
C major chord alternate variation - C add 9
Listed below are the finger positions to the Cadd9.
- Place your 1st finger onto string D at fret 2.
- Now put the 2nd finger on string A on fret 3.
- The 3rd finger goes to string B at fret 3.
- And now the 4th finger below that onto the high E string at fret 3.
And of course, strum the chord, and ensure the chord rings out nicely.
You might notice that this chord bears much resemblance with the G major chord.
You now know three ways to play the C major, well done!
More versions of the C major guitar chord
There are in fact countless alternatives of the C major, you have now taught yourself the most popular variants.
Listed here are the chord charts to multiple other voicings of the C major chord.
Under what circumstances will you use which? It actually hinges on a couple of things:
- You would almost always go with a voicing which is close to where you are playing on the neck already.
- The musical genre may also affect the spot where you play the chord. As an example, you play lower alternatives in heavy metal, whereas in funk, you play higher pitch ones.
Video guitar lesson for inexperienced players on the C major chord
Considering the fact that music is an audible art form, let me suggest a fantastic YouTube guitar tutorial on precisely how to play the C major on the guitar.
Observe the guitar teacher's fingers and wrist placement.
The C major barre chord
Barre chords are difficult, so if you have only recently started learning guitar, you should probably to stick with the simpler and easier versions until you get better.
If you have been playing for a few months and want to learn how to play the barre chord version of the C major, here you go.
We can start with the E shape barre chord voicing of the C, which has its root note on the lowest string.
This is how to play the C major barre chord rooting on the low E string:
- Lay your index finger across all of the strings at fret 8.
- Now arrange your other fingers to fret a regular E shape barre chord. This starts with putting your 2nd finger onto fret 9 on string G.
- Your 3rd finger goes to string A at fret 10.
- And your pinky on fret 10 on the D string.
And as always, pluck each string in the chord, and make certain the chord is ringing nicely. You do not want to hear dead notes or buzzing strings.
Bar chords are hard, you will have to practice them a lot.
An additional popular version of the C major chord makes use of the A shape barre chord.
This is how to fret the C major barre chord rooting on the A string:
- To start off, lay your 1st finger on strings 1-5 at fret 3.
- Now go ahead and arrange your other fingers to fret a standard A shape barre chord by placing your ring finger onto fret 5 on the D, G and B strings.
Now strum the chord and be sure the chord rings out clearly.
As I mentioned, barre chords are challenging. You shouldn't expect to learn them too quickly.
Practice a lot, you'll be able to hold down the C major barre chord soon.