C Major Guitar Chord

Man Playing Guitar
Last month’s chord of the month was the G Major Chord (if you haven’t already checked it out click here). This month we are continuing to explore the most common guitar chords all beginners should know with a look at the C chord. 
The C chord is often the most despised chord by beginner guitar players because it is one of the most stretchy, much like G major that we looked at last month.  Where as G had us stretching the width of the guitar neck, C has us stretching the length by placing three different fingers in three different frets.
Don’t fret though! (Sorry couldn’t resist) Like last month I am going to show you some easier ways to play C, as well as some cool variations, so grab your guitar and let’s jump in.

One Finger C Chord

Most beginners make the mistake of starting with the three finger C chord when learning the C chord for the first time. When in actual fact we can make it a lot easier to learn by starting with just one finger as pictured below:

Using just one finger will allow you to focus more on the technique you are using and allow you to make sure the technique is secure with one finger before bringing in multiple fingers.
Make sure you are using the tip of your first finger as this will give you the best sound and be sure to position the finger tip close to the fret wire (strip of metal) as this should get rid of any annoying buzzes.

Two Finger C Chord

Once you have cracked the one finger C chord shape it is time to bring in another finger to create a two finger C chord as shown below:

Make sure that you are using the tips of your fingers when holding down the strings and each finger is positioned straight as not to touch the string below it, as this will cause it to become muted.
Pick through each string one at a time to make sure each string sounds clear and is free from buzz and muting. 

Three Finger C Chord

Now you have mastered the one and two finger C chord shapes it is time for the biggie, the three finger C chord.
To create this shape we are going to add our third finger to the third fret of the A string as pictured below:
Adding the third finger creates a very stretchy shape so hang in there as  it might take a little while for your hand to become adjusted and get use to the stretch. 
Like before, pick each string one at a time, checking to make sure each string sounds clear. 

If a string does not sound clear and there is a finger on it make sure you are pushing down with the tip of your finger next to the fret wire, body side of the fret (right side for right handed guitarists). 
Spend some time picking through each string and adjusting your fingers until you get the correct sound. 

You will probably have to repeat this process quite a few times before the shape gets locked into your muscle memory, meaning fingers default to the correct shape without need for adjustment but it is well worth the time investment as C is a common chord.

How is C Chord Built?

That’s a great question, thank you for asking!
Let’s start off by giving the C chord its full name, C Major chord. We tend to call major chords just by their letter names as that is how we write them, so a C major chord is just called C. 
When it comes to constructing a major chord we first start with the major scale, as we are building a C major chord we use the C major scale:
C  D  E  F  G  A  B  C
Next we take the first, third and fifth notes from the scale as these are the notes in C major chord. C major chord consist of the notes C, E and G. 
If we now label the notes we played in the three different C chord shapes you can see that each of the shapes contains the three notes C, E and G. 
So, to construct a C major chord we need the notes C, E and G. Now with the bigger chord shapes that use more than three strings we double some of these notes (as shown in the three finger C chord above) where we play two C notes and two E notes. 
By doubling up different notes we create different sounding C chords or different voicings of the C chord. Below is the three finger C with the G note doubled instead of the E. 
All you need to do to form this shape is add your fourth finger to the the three finger C chord shape by placing it on the third fret on the high e string.
Another common voicing is the C/G chord where we place the G note on the sixth string rather than the first string as shown below:
Because the G note is the first note we play it actually changes the C chords name to C/G meaning the G note is now the bass note rather than C. 
So now we know a few shapes of the C chord and how it is constructed let’s put it to use in a few songs. Here is a list of beginner guitar songs that use the C chord:

So there we have it, everything you need to rock a C chord. I hope you have enjoyed this article and let me know in the comments what songs you are playing that use C chord.


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