ChordBank, How to Play Chords on Guitar
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Helping millions play guitar better, since 2010.

HOW TO PLAY

The C Chord

On this page, you’ll learn two chord shapes—first, the most common and important way to play the chord, plus an easier version you can use, even if you’re brand new to the guitar.

This chord is part of our free course “Beginner Jumpstart”.

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The C Major Chord

In this most common version of the C Major chord, we’re going to use three fingers, and strum the top five strings.

Here’s a video to walk you through it, with a diagram below to show you where to put your fingers:

C Chord

Practice tips:

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Practice and Memorize the C Major Shape

A great way to memorize the C major shape is to practice with an on-off drill.

  1. Start by placing your fingers on the strings, in the C major shape.
  2. Count to four, strumming on each beat.
  3. Then, take your fingers off the strings for four beats.
  4. Put your fingers back on, and repeat.

Taking your fingers off and on again in this way will help your brain memorize the shape, while the four beats give you time to place your fingers.

When you’re ready, try the same technique, but switch back and forth between C and another chord, like the G chord.

One Finger Version

If you’re just getting started, in your first few days of playing, here’s an easy, one-finger version to help you get started.

It has all the same notes as the more common version, but the sound isn’t quite as rich or as full.

All you need to do is put your first finger on the first fret of your second string, and then strum the thinnest three strings. That’s it!

Easy C Chord for Beginners

Once you’re comfortable with this version, try learning the more common, fuller sounding version above.

LEARN MORE CHORDS

Other common chords in the key of C Major:

HOW TO PLAY
G Major
HOW TO PLAY
F Major
HOW TO PLAY
A Minor
HOW TO PLAY
E Minor

MORE TO LEARN

Don't forget about scales—check out the most important scales for beginners to learn, including two ways to play a C Major scale:

GUITAR SCALES
3 Essential Guitar Scales for Beginners

Anna Freitas holds a B.A. from Berklee College of Music and performs throughout New England as a guitarist and vocalist. She continues to teach students, both in-person and online via Skype.