How To Play C Chord For Guitar: Quick Guide, With Diagrams & Photos

How to play a C chord for guitar: a complete tutorial, including finger position diagrams, photos and information: everything you need to play a C major chord on guitar!

First you'll learn how to play an open position C guitar chord. You'll then learn how to play two different C major guitar chords using barre / bar chords.

C Chord For Guitar: Page Index

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C Chord For Guitar

The diagram below shows you how to play the standard, open position C major chord on guitar. This is the most common way of playing a C chord, and the first C chord shape you should learn.

C chord on guitar
Open position C chord for guitar. For information on how to read chord diagrams, see this page: How To Play Chords On Guitar

You can see this chord being played in the photo below:

Open Position C Chord Guitar Photo
Open Position C Chord Guitar Photo

How to play a C chord on guitar

The "C" chord symbol is just a shortened way of telling you to play a C major chord. Further down the page we explain what a C major chord is and examine the notes it contains.
  • First, position your third finger (ring finger) on the 3rd fret of the A string. This is a C note, and it will be the bass note of your chord.
  • Next, position your second (middle) finger at the second fret of the D string.
  • Finally, position your first (index) finger at the 1st fret of the B string.

The open (unfretted) G and top E strings are part of the chord and should be included when you play the chord.

The bottom (low) E string should not be played (the "X" on the chord diagram tells you not to play this string).

Therefore, when strumming the chord, try to start your strum on the fifth string rather than on the bottom E string. You could also try muting the string with the thumb of your fretting hand - just let it hang over the top of the neck, gently touching the bottom E string to prevent it from ringing.

It won't sound horrible if you do accidentally play the low E string, but it does tend to make the chord sound less clear and a bit muddy.

Different Ways Of Playing A C Chord On Guitar

Because C chords crop up in songs written in several popular keys, including C, F and G (see this page for more info on which chords are in which key), it's likely you're going to be playing a lot of C chords on guitar!

That's why it's a great idea to learn how to play different types of C chord. Below are two other ways of playing a C major chord on guitar:

C Bar Chords

You can also use bar chords (also called barre chords) to play a C major chord.

Bar chords can be moved up and down the guitar neck in order to play the same chord with a different root note.
In order to play a bar chord, you need to make a "bar", or "barre" across the fretboard with your index finger. This allows the index finger to hold down notes on more than one string at the same time.

Use the finger positions shown in the diagrams below – at the fretboard positions indicated – to play C bar chords.

C Bar Chord 1

C bar chord
C bar chord (A shape)

This is the barre chord equivalent of the standard A guitar chord shape. It's basically the same as an A chord played at open position, but with a bar instead of the open strings. You can see the chord being played in the picture below:

C Barre Chord Shape 1 Photo
C Bar Chord Shape 1 Photo

The chord shape shown above can also be played by laying the 3rd finger (your 'ring' finger) over the 4th, 3rd and 2nd strings. This technique is tricky at first, but it can be an easier and faster way of playing a C chord once you get used to it.

The diagram and photo below show you how it's done:

C bar chord a shape alternative fingering
C bar chord "A" shape with alternative fingering

You can see the chord shape above being played in the photo below:

C Bar Chord Shape 1 Alternative Fingering
C Bar Chord Shape 1 Alternative Fingering

C Chord Guitar Bar Shape 2

The second C bar chord is played at the 8th fret.

C bar chord for guitar
C bar chord using "E" shape.

This is the bar chord equivalent of the basic, open position E guitar chord shape. When played at the 8th fret with a barre, the "E" chord shape makes a C major chord.

You can see the above chord being played in the photo below:

C Guitar Bar Chord Shape 2
C Guitar Bar Chord Shape 2

C Chord For Guitar: Notes & Information

Is a C chord the same as a C major chord?

In a word, yes. When you see a "C" chord symbol on sheet music, means play a C major chord.

If asked to play a C chord guitar players know to play a C major chord, rather than a C minor, or C seventh, or any other kind of C chord.

Notes In a C Major Chord

C major chords are made up of 3 notes: C, E & G

  • These notes can be played in any order in the chord (although, usually, a C note will be the lowest note in the chord).
  • The notes can be repeated in different octaves within the chord.

This is why there is always more than one way to play a chord on the guitar.

C Chord Guitar Finger Position Conclusion

We hope that you have found this page useful, and that you can now play a C major chord on your guitar!

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