July 3, 2023

How To Play a C Chord on a Guitar

Knowing how to play basic chords on your guitar will give you the foundation for playing countless songs, and C major is one of the most popular and easy-to-learn guitar chords you'll find. Beginners and veterans alike use it in many different styles of music and chord progressions, making it essential for your arsenal.

However, don't worry; it's a simple chord once you get the hang of it. Let us here at Rocksmith+ walk through how to play a C chord on your guitar.

What Is a C Chord?

A C chord is made up of three notes: C, E, and G --- easy, right? These three notes are played together to create the sound of a full chord. The C note is the foundation or root note of the chord and provides its name.

How To Play a C Chord: Step-by-Step

To play a C major chord shape on an electric or acoustic guitar:

  • Place your first finger on the first fret of the second string (the B string)

  • Place your middle finger on the second fret of the fourth string (the D string)

  • Place your third finger (your ring finger) on the third fret of the fifth string (the A string)

When strummed together, these notes create the sound of a C major chord, and the first string (high E string), third string (G string), and sixth string (low E string) are left as open strings.

If you want to play a C minor chord, you'll play something that looks and feels significantly different, but that's just because of how the guitar notes are set up. You'll place your index finger on the third fret of the fifth string, barring on the rest of the strings up to your high E string.

With your ring finger and pinky, you'll hold down the fifth frets of both the fourth and third strings, making a power chord (you can also stop here to make a general C chord.) Finish the barre chord with your middle finger, pulling it in and pressing the fourth fret on the second string.

If you're just starting your guitar lessons and these are your first chords, the C minor will likely be tough to play at first --- but practice makes perfect.

Why Should You Learn How To Play the C Chord?

Knowing how to play common chords is an essential skill for any guitarist, and some of the more complicated variations are also important down the road.

Mastering the C chord will progress your guitar-playing skills and make you more versatile in your playing ability, as the finger position for the C has your hand stretched out a bit more. This makes transitioning to and from the C chord a bit more of a challenge - not enough to turn you away, but enough to be an excellent workout for your fingers!

How Can You Get Started Learning a C Chord?

Now that you're learning to play the C chord, you'll want to ensure your guitar is properly tuned and you have all the necessary supplies.

What Supplies Do You Need?

A guitar and a tuner are the only essential supplies for playing the C chord. If you don't have a tuner, you can purchase one at your local music store or download a tuning app on your phone.

We may be biased, but the Rocksmith+ Connect Tuner is an excellent option. Other helpful items include a guitar stand, picks, extra strings, and practice amplifiers, but these aren't necessarily needed.

You might also consider what strings you're putting on your guitar - starting with lighter strings will help relieve some of the weight needed to push down the strings, making it easier on your fingers as you learn.

Light gauge strings won't quite have the same hefty tone as heavier strings, but trust us - you don't want to wear out your fingers too quickly. You'll feel the burn and even run the risk of developing health concerns such as tendinitis.

How Do You Tune the Guitar?

Tuning your guitar is the most critical step before learning how to play any chord or scale on the guitar. An out-of-tune guitar will sound unpleasant, and even if you were to have the proper hand position for a C chord, it would sound wrong. Thankfully tuning your guitar is extremely easy, especially with the right tools.

If you use a physical tuner, it will typically clamp on or attach to your guitar. Follow the directions to set up the tuner and turn the tuning pegs until the needle on the device is in the middle of the gauge, reading the proper note for that string in standard tuning.

If you're interested in other tuning styles, there are plenty to explore. However, you won't be able to play the C chord the same as you would in standard. If you don't have a tuning device, you might be using an app-based tuner, which will likely work by using the microphone on your phone to detect the note your string is playing. Follow the same instructions to match the notes on your guitar as closely as you can.

What Are Some Techniques for Strumming Chords?

Strumming is an essential part of playing the guitar and producing different chords. It's a technique that takes practice, dedication, and patience to master. When starting, pay attention to the motions and techniques you use. Generally, you'll want to play chords in a downward motion with your thumb or a pick, depending on what feels more comfortable and the sound you hope to achieve.

Focus on holding down the chord and strumming slow downward motions with steady pressure so that all the notes in the chord ring out evenly. With each successive stroke, move up and down slowly so each note has enough time to ring out without overpowering other notes in the chord.

Once you've played through this a few times with this method, begin adding articulate speed as needed --- but only after mastering the basic technique. Practice makes perfect! Keep practicing until you can play at a consistent speed while keeping each note clear and distinguishable.

What Songs Use the C Chord?

So, you've mastered the basic technique, and you're ready to start practicing some of your favorite songs. Here are a few popular tunes that use the C chord on guitar.

"Brown Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison

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Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl" is a timeless classic that has stood the test of time. Released in 1967, the song features Morrison's signature blend of folk, rock, and R&B, creating a unique sound that still resonates with listeners today.

With its upbeat jam, catchy tune, and iconic guitar riffs, "Brown Eyed Girl" is a great song to learn on the guitar for beginners and professionals alike. It features a simple chord progression that notably includes the C chord on both the lead and chord chart, and is an easy track for beginners to pick up.

"At My Funeral" by Crash Test Dummies

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If you're looking for something to get the tears rolling, "At My Funeral" by Crash Test Dummies is an excellent song for beginner guitarists to learn, and it has a C chord on the chord chart. The song's hauntingly beautiful melody is carried by simple yet effective chord progressions, making it easy for beginners to play along with.

The song's slow tempo also allows for ample time to practice chord transitions and even fingerpicking techniques when you feel up to it. If you decide to try singing the lyrics while you play the song, this is an excellent way to practice.

"Dear Diary" by Britney Spears

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Even if you didn't catch Spears fever back in the early 2000s, "Dear Diary" by Britney Spears is a fun song to learn on guitar for several reasons, and includes a C chord on the chord chart. First of all, the song features a catchy melody that is easy to follow and play along with, so it's a great option for beginners.

Not to mention, pulling out a deep-cut Britney tune is sure to make for an excellent time next chance you have to serenade your friends.

Wrapping Up

Congratulations! You now know the fundamentals of playing the C chord. With practice and dedication, you can quickly build up your repertoire in no time! Learning this simple chord is just one step on the road to becoming a great musician; no doubt that your knowledge and ability as a musician will continue to grow with every new chord you learn.

By having access to more than 6,000 songs through Rocksmith+, you'll get extensive opportunities to develop your skills further. Get ready for your talent to take shape and reach its full potential!


Root Note: Beginner Piano Terms | Liveabout

Tendinitis - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic.

Golden Rule of Strumming: Learn to Play Guitar | Acoustic Life

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