The C Chord on guitar is probably the first chord you will or did learn on the instrument. This is probably true for piano as well.
Why is C the first chord learned on guitar?
In traditional lessons students learn the instrument and music theory at the same time. In order to learn how to read music, a student needs to identify the key signature of a song. This is indicated by the number of sharps or flats at the beginning of the piece of music.
The key of C has no sharps or flats, so in theory it is a little easier to learn.
Now on to The C Chord
The C major chord consists of three notes: C, E and G. C is considered the root, so most versions C will be the lowest note of the chord.
Open C Chord:
It’s an open chord because you are employing open strings in the chord.
Place your third finger on the third fret of the fifth string, middle finger on the second fret of the fourth string and your index finger on the first fret of the second string. Let the first and third strings ring out as your strum.
Hit it! (Well, strum it!)
C Chord at the Third Fret:
This one is a little trickier. You need to bar your index finger on the third fret from the fifth to first string. Your third finger will bar the fifth fret of the second, third and fourth strings. If barring your third finger is too hard, you can try using your second, third and four fingers on the fifth fret instead. But, you will eventually need to learn how to bar with one finger.
C Chord at the Eighth Fret:
Okay, you are going to play all of the strings with this baby!
First finger bars the eighth fret, third finger is on the tenth fret of the fifth string, the pinky is on the tenth fret of the fourth string and your second finger is on the ninth fret of the third string.
Although your first finger is barring all of the string, it is only holding notes on the first, second and sixth strings.
Practice it, master it.
More Variations of the C Chord on Guitar
For the record, some of these are considered partial chords or inversions. A partial chord is missing one of the notes – the are also known as power chords. An inversion, on a C chord, is when the E or G is played lower than the C.
Check out some Beatles Songs in the Key of C
C Power Chords
C Chord Inversions
That’s a whole lot of chords! A great way to practice is change the version of the chord every measure. Eventually you may hear some familiar sounds as professional guitarist do this often.
Keep on picking!