February 7, 2024

How To Play E on Guitar 4 Different Ways

The E chord, with its rich resonance, holds a special place in the hearts of guitarists, both novice and veteran. The chord's deep tones lend themselves to various genres, from rock anthems to soulful ballads, making it a cornerstone in guitar playing.

But did you know there are multiple ways to play this chord on the fretboard? This article delves into four distinct methods, each offering a unique sonic texture and ease of transition to other chords.

What Are the Basics of the E Major Chord?

The E Major chord is composed of three primary notes: E, G#, and B. When played together, these notes produce the full, vibrant sound characteristic of the E Major chord. Most guitarists are familiar with its open form, commonly one of the first chords learned due to its relatively simple finger positioning and the natural resonance it achieves on a standard-tuned guitar.

However, there's so much more to explore beyond this foundational shape. By mastering various forms of the E chord, a guitarist can navigate the fretboard more freely, adapt to different musical contexts, and even add subtle nuances to their playing. And while the core notes remain consistent, the positioning and fingerings can vary, each offering a different flavor of this iconic chord.

Before diving into the four distinct methods, it's crucial to understand and appreciate this chord's fundamental nature. The E chord's universality in popular songs isn't just by chance; it's because of its adaptability and sonorous richness. The ability to play it in various ways can significantly expand a guitarist's creative horizons.

1. Open E Major Chord

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Often the first introduction to the world of guitar chords, the open E Major chord is a rite of passage for most budding guitarists. Its accessibility for beginners doesn't diminish its value; many celebrated artists choose this chord for its clear and resonant tone.

  1. Place your index finger on the 3rd string (G string) at the 1st fret.

  2. Position your middle finger on the 5th string (A string) at the 2nd fret.

  3. Set your ring finger just below, on the 4th string (D string) at the 2nd fret.

  4. Strum all six strings confidently, ensuring every note rings out clearly.

The beauty of the open E Major lies in its simplicity. Yet, this straightforward formation delivers a powerful, full-bodied sound. The use of open strings makes playing this chord simple and adds a distinct color to your playing. It offers a warmth that becomes the backbone of countless songs across genres. For any guitarist, mastering this form provides a stable foundation from which to explore more intricate chord shapes and progressions.

2. E Barre Chord

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Venturing beyond the comfort of open chords, barre chords introduce guitarists to a realm of flexibility and mobility on the fretboard. The E barre chord using the A shape is a prime example, enabling you to transition smoothly to other major chords without reshaping your hand entirely.

  1. Mute the 6th string and 1st string to play this chord.

  2. Place your first finger on the 7th fret of the 5th string.

  3. Barre the 9th fret across the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th strings using your 3rd finger.

The E barre chord, while slightly more complex than its open counterpart, offers a brighter, punchier sound. As guitarists progress in their journey, mastering such chords is invaluable. Not only does it deepen their understanding of the instrument's mechanics, but it also equips them with the tools needed to adapt and innovate in their playing.

3. E Barre Chord (E-Shape)

When guitarists think of barre chords, the E shape is often the first to come to mind. This form harnesses the foundational E Major open chord shape and transposes it along the fretboard. The advantage? It retains the core shape while accessing the chord's sound in higher pitches.

  1. Bar all the strings on the 12th fret using your index finger.

  2. Set your middle finger on the 13th fret of the 3rd string (G string).

  3. Place your ring finger on the 14th fret of the 5th string (A string).

  4. Position your pinky right below on the 14th fret of the 4th string (D string).

  5. Strum all the strings together, ensuring clarity in each note.

Using the E shape for the E barre chord opens a world of opportunities for guitarists. Its resemblance to the open E Major makes transitioning and remembering the shape more intuitive. This movable shape also serves as a bridge to understanding the guitar's geometric nature, illustrating how patterns repeat themselves across the fretboard.

4. E7 Open Chord (A Variation of E)

Jazz and blues aficionados are likely familiar with the distinct, intricate sound of the E7 chord. While technically a variation of the E major, E7, also known as "E dominant 7," contains a unique tension that's perfect for adding drama or leading into another chord in progressions.

  1. Place your index finger on the 3rd string (G string) at the 1st fret.

  2. Position your middle finger on the 5th string (A string) at the 2nd fret.

  3. Strum all six strings, allowing the open D to infuse the chord with that distinctive E7 sound.

The E7 chord is almost identical to an E, but removing just one finger changes the sound and feel completely. Whether it's creating a bluesy transition or adding a hint of suspense to a song, the E7 is an indispensable tool for any guitarist looking to infuse their music with depth and emotion.

The Power of the E Chord on Guitar

The E chord, in all its variations, is a testament to the guitar's versatility and depth. From the resonant open E Major to the intricate sounds of the E7, each form offers guitarists a unique shade of musical expression.

Embracing all these variations not only enriches one's playing but also paves the way for continuous growth and exploration of the instrument. So, pick up your guitar, load up Rocksmith+, and practice these E-chord variations.


How to play barre chords | Guitar World

How to Play the E Chord | ChordBank

Top 45 Easy Guitar Songs With A, D, E Chords | Rock Guitar Universe

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