How to Play a C Major Chord on Guitar and Piano

    C Major Guitar Chord

    C Major Chord: Introduction

    C Major is a very commonly-used guitar chord, and it should be one of the first ones you learn. It’s used in a wide array of songs across nearly all genres.

    It’s also fairly easy to play; the most common variation, played open, only requires you to fret three strings.

    What songs use a C Major chord?

    These are a few of the songs that use a C Major chord:

    What notes are in a C Major chord?

    A C Major triad is made up of three notes: C, E, and G. When played in open position on a guitar, you’ll play a combination of these three notes.

    From top to bottom string, these notes are:

    E, C, E, G, C, E

    How to play a C Major chord on guitar

    There are three main ways to play a C Major chord on guitar: As an open chord, as an A-shape barre chord, and as an E-shape barre chord.

    C Major Chord: Open

    C Major Guitar Chord Chart/Diagram

    To play a C Major chord open, use your index finger to press down the first-fret B string.

    Use your middle finger to fret the second-fret D string, and your ring finger for the third-fret A string.

    You can strum all six strings, since all of the notes created are either C, E, or G.

    C Major Chord: A-Shape Barre

    C Major A-Shape Barre Chord

    Alternatively, a C Major chord can be played by playing an A-shape barre chord at the third fret.

    If you find this too difficult, try using a “double barre” (using your ring finger to barre the bottom four strings) for a nearly identical sound.

    You can also use your thumb to barre the bottom two strings if it’s more comfortable; this greatly frees up your index finger, allowing it to only fret one string (high E).

    C Major Chord: E-Shape Barre

    C Major 8th Fret E Shape Barre Chord

    Lastly, you can play a C Major chord as an 8th-fret E-shape barre chord.

    To do this, use your index finger to barre the eighth fret and place your third finger on the ninth-fret G string.

    Use your ring finger to fret the A string and your pinky to fret the D string, both on the tenth fret.

    As with the previous chord, feel free to use your thumb to barre the top string if it’s more convenient.

    How to play a C Major chord on piano

    Playing this chord on piano is also quite simple; it’s the first chord most beginners learn on a keyboard.

    There are three main positions you’ll see C Major played in: root position, first inversion, and second inversion. Let’s look at these.

    Root Position

    In root position, C is the lowest note. Optimal fingering is as follows:

    • Left Hand: Pinky on C, middle finger on E, thumb on G
    • Right Hand: Thumb on C, middle finger on E, pinky on G

    First Inversion

    In the first inversion, C is moved to the top, making E the lowest note in this variation of the triad. Optimal fingering is:

    • Left Hand: Pinky on E, middle finger on G, thumb on C
    • Right Hand: Thumb on E, index finger on G, pinky on C]

    Second Inversion

    Lastly, we have second inversion, where G is the root note. The best fingering for this inversion is:

    • Left Hand: Pinky on G, index finger on C, thumb on E
    • Right Hand: Thumb on G, middle finger on C, pinky on E