March 29

How To Play The C Chord On Guitar

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We’re going to learn a variation of the C Major chord for guitar today. I like to call it a funny C chord. If you’ve played a folk-style C chord and you see this one, it might look funny to you. 


Learning The C Chord on Guitar

If you know the G Major chord already, start by forming that chord shape. From there you’ll simply move your middle and index fingers up one string. Your middle finger will be on the 3rd fret, 5th string. Your index finger will move to 2nd fret, 4th string.

If you don’t know the G Major chord yet, here’s how to form a C chord on guitar:


1st String - pinky on 3rd fret 

2nd String - ring finger on 3rd fret

3rd String - open

4th String - index finger on 2nd fret

5th String - middle finger on 3rd fret

6th String - (not played)


Your hand should look like this:

You can mute the 6th string with your middle finger. Roll or angle it just enough so it just barely touches the 6th string. Play around with positioning until you get it where it needs to be.

If you look closely at the image, you can see my middle finger barely touching the low E string.

If you’d like a review of how to read a chord diagram check this short lesson.


Why Start With The Funny C Chord?

Most of the time I encourage students to start with traditional fingering for the basic chords. This is one of the few exceptions. Why?


It’s Easy To Change to G


Perhaps the best reason to use this version is that you can change to and from G Major easily. You’ll see this version of the C chord mostly in the key of G. G is one of the most common keys on the guitar. 

You’ll often play the G chord, C chord, and D chord together. This version of the C chord is the easiest to change between the G chord and the D chord.


It Has A Modern Sound


Most modern songs in the key of G actually use this version of the chord. It adds a little more color and excitement to a chord progression than a standard folk-style C Major. 


Also known as Cadd9 or Cadd2

The technical name of this is the Cadd9. You might also see it referred to as a Cadd2. They’re two names for the same thing. The ‘2’ and ‘9’ in a key are the same note, just an octave up. Don’t get too hung up on the music theory part.


How To Practice The C Chord

To practice this chord we’re going to use a great muscle memory technique. 


  • Form the C chord, press down the strings, and release your hand and shake it out.
  • Count to 5 and form the chord again. This time strum the C chord a time or two. Make any adjustments you need to.
  • Press your fingers down just a little more, then release.


After you do this a few times:


  • Count to 3 and form the C chord. Strum, press down, and release.


If you do this for even just a few minutes a day you’ll have it down in no time!


What do you think about this funny C Major chord? If you know the Folk style C Major chord, which do you prefer? Let me know in the comments!

Tomas Michaud
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