9. Intro to Open Chords – C Major (BC-102)

C:1[C Major]

Chord Spelling: C – E – G
Scale Intervals: 1 – 3 – 5
Name Variations: C – C Major – Cmaj

The C Major chord is made up of the notes C, E and G. The chord diagram shows the C Major chord in the open position and uses the top five strings on the guitar; the sixth (low E) string is not played.

To fret the chord, place your ring finger on the third fret of the A string to fret the C note (in orange). Count up the notes from the open A string as we did previously to confirm this is a C. The grey notes show us how to count up to the fretted note from the open string, and are not included in the chord.

fretboard option width=825 option height=240 show fret=1 string=5 text=A# fill-color=#cccccc show fret=2 string=5 text=B fill-color=#cccccc show fret=3 string=5 text=C fill-color=#dd9933

Next, place your middle finger on the second fret of the D string to play the E note:

fretboard option width=825 option height=240 show fret=3 string=5 text=C fill-color=#dd9933 show fret=1 string=4 text=D# fill-color=#cccccc show fret=2 string=4 text=E fill-color=#dd9933

Finally, place your index finger on the first fret of the B string to play the C note.

fretboard option width=825 option height=240 show fret=3 string=5 text=C fill-color=#dd9933 show fret=2 string=4 text=E fill-color=#dd9933 show fret=1 string=2 text=C fill-color=#dd9933

The G and top E string are played in the open position, so the final fretboard diagram is as follows:

fretboard option width=825 option height=240 show fret=0 string=6 text=X fill-color=#000000 show fret=3 string=5 text=C fill-color=#dd9933 show fret=2 string=4 text=E fill-color=#dd9933 show fret=0 string=3 text=G fill-color=#dd9933 show fret=1 string=2 text=C fill-color=#dd9933 show fret=0 string=1 text=E fill-color=#dd9933

The image below shows how to play the C Major chord. Note that the fingers arch upwards, away from the fretboard, rather than flat across the strings. It can be a bit tricky to fret the other notes with your fingers without touching these strings, so if you find that the G or the E string is sounding muffled, or isn’t sounding out at all, it could be that one of your fingers is touching against the open strings and preventing it from sounding out. If this is the case, it may just take some practice to form the C Major chord shape, and a bit of experimentation with arching your fingers/thumb placement to ensure you are getting a clean sound.

To strum the chord, place your pick next to the A string and strum the top five strings.

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