Cmaj7 Guitar Chord: 5 Ways To Play This Cool Chord

The Cmaj7 guitar chord is a cool-sounding jazzy chord that’s fun to play. Let’s dive in!

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In this Cmaj7 guitar chord lesson you will learn:

  • 5 essential ways to play the Cmaj7 guitar chord.
  • 3 quick and easy chord drills which will turbo-charge your chord changes.
  • 6 guitar ‘hacks’ which makes your chords sound more musical.

What is a Cmaj7 guitar chord?

The Cmaj7 guitar chord is one of the coolest chords in the music world.

It’s heard in all kinds of music from jazz, blues and modern pop. If you’ve listened to guitarists such as John Mayer, George Benson or even B.B King you’ve definitely heard this chord.

What does the Cmaj7 guitar chord sound like?

The Cmaj7 guitar chord is from the major chord family and has a dreamy and relaxing feel to it.

This chord is perfect for creating a calm and breezy mood in any music that you’re playing or composing.
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The 5 most common ways to play the Cmaj7 guitar chord

The 5 main voicings of the Cmaj7 guitar chord are:

  1. ‘Open’ Cmaj7 guitar chord. (The easiest version)
  2. Barred Cmaj7 guitar chord – as a moveable E shape. (The ‘bassiest’ version.)
  3. Cmaj7 guitar chord – as a moveable A shape. (The most well-rounded version.)
  4. Cmaj7 guitar chord – as a moveable D shape. (The best version for secondary & lead guitar phrases.)
  5. Cmaj7 guitar chord – as a moveable G shape. (An interesting and advanced voicing.)

All of these chords are based on the ‘CAGED guitar system’, which is a fancy way of saying you can play every chord using a variation of a C-shape, A-shape, G-shape, E-shape and D-shape.

You can learn more about CAGED in our guide:

CAGED Guitar System – How To Truly Master Guitar Chords

Although five versions of this chord may seem like overkill, each of the chord voicings has a different feel and vibe.

  • This is so important to know when playing guitar as it allows you to use the correct chord for the appropriate musical situation.
  • Learning these variations make you more articulate as a musician because you have a deeper chord vocabulary.

In the next part of this guide, we’ll show you each Cmaj7 guitar chord and how to use it in a musical situation. Let’s do it!

Open Cmaj7 guitar chord (easiest version)

This is a lovely voicing of the Cmaj7 guitar chord, it’s also the easiest to play.

To play this chord all you need is two fingers. Here’s how to play it:

  • Place your 1st finger on fret 2 of the D string (4th string).
  • Place your 2nd finger on fret 3 of the A string (5th string).
  • Strum from the A string (5th string).

Cmaj7-Guitar-Chord

(If you don't understand the above image please read our article "How To Read Guitar Chordboxes In 60 Seconds". It will make everything clear!)

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When might you use this chord?

This chord sounds really dreamy and loose. There are a number of different ways that you can use this chord:

Beginners find the regular C major guitar chord difficult to play. This Cmaj7 guitar chord is an ideal alternative. In some situations, it sounds better than the regular C!

You can use any of these Cmaj7 guitar chords as a substitute for regular C and it’ll sound ok.

Related guide: Easy ways to play the C guitar chord

Tip: Because this chord sounds open and rich, it works well for singer-songwriters as it supports the vocal and creates a relaxed & fresh feel in your music.

Learn the 12 EASIEST beginner chords with our famous FREE guide

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Where should we send it?

Cmaj7 guitar chord as a moveable E-shape (the bassiest version)

Once you’ve learned the open Cmaj7 guitar chord, this version is the next logical step.

It uses more fingers and is more challenging but is also a great chord to add to your vocabulary. Let’s learn it.

cmaj7-guitar-chord

(If you don't understand the above image please read our article "How To Read Guitar Chordboxes In 60 Seconds". It will make everything clear!)

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When might you use this chord?

This chord tends to work well in a number of musical situations. Here are a few of our favourite ways to use this chord:

  • Use this chord if you’re the only guitarist in the band.

As this chord has a deep sound to it, it works well as a supporting chord. This works fantastically if you’re the only guitarist as it will fill out the arrangement.

Here a list of typical musical situations where you could use this chord:

  • With a singer as a duo.
  • As part of a trio lineup. (Bass, guitar and drums.)
  • With other instruments such as Saxophones, Strings or Brass.

C-maj7

Theory: What is a Cmaj7 guitar chord made of?

This chord is a bit unusual. Standard major and minor chords contain 3 notes, but Maj7 chords have 4.

The intervals and notes of a Cmaj7 chord are:

  • Root (C)
  • Major 3rd (E)
  • Perfect 5th (G)
  • Major 7th (B)

For more theory, check out our mega-guide:

Guitar Theory: The 4 Step System For Rapid Progress

Cmaj7 guitar chord – as a moveable A shape. (The most well-rounded version.)

Here’s another cool version of the Cmaj7 guitar chord. This chord has more of a mid-range character to it.

Here’s how to play it:

  • Place your 1st finger on fret 3 and barre the A (5th string) and E string (6th string).
  • Place your 3rd finger on fret 5 of the D string (4th string).
  • Place your 2nd finger on fret 4 of the G string (3rd string).
  • Place your 4th finger on fret 5 of the B string (2nd string).
  • Strum from the A string (5th string).

cmaj7-guitar-chord

This chord can be tricky as it needs barring. If you don’t know how to do barre chords, check out this lesson.

When can you use this chord?

This chord is the most well-rounded version of the Cmaj7 guitar chord because it’s got all the mid-range notes. 

This voicing has more top end than the previous version so you can use it as the primary guitar part, even in a band with a second guitarist, and it will work well.

Cmaj7 guitar chord – as a moveable D shape. (The best version for secondary & lead guitar phrases.)

This version of the Cmaj7 guitar chord is a fantastic one to have in your toolkit. Because this chord is placed on the top 4 strings of the guitar, it has a brighter sound.

This high amount of treble makes it cut through really well and it contrasts but also harmonises with the lower C notes a bass guitarist, or other guitarist, would play. This creates a rich and textured sound. Pretty cool!

Here’s how to play it:

  • Place your 1st finger on fret 10 of the D string (4th string).
  • Barre your 3rd over fret 12 on the G (3rd string), B (2nd string) and E (1st string).
  • Strum from the D string. (4th string.)

The barring in this chord can be challenging but it’s worth it.
cmaj7-guitar-chord

When can you use this voicing of the Cmaj7 guitar chord?

Because this voicing has a higher pitch than the previous voicing that we’ve learned, it allows us to apply it to a wide variety of musical situations.

Here are some of the best ways to practically use this chord:

  • This chord works beautifully supporting another guitarist who is playing the same chord in the band. For example, one guitar could be playing an open Cmaj7 guitar chord whilst you could be playing a Cmaj7 guitar chord with a D string root.

This works because you’re playing the same notes in a different voicing. Because the two chords are in different areas of the guitar they work fantastically together and produce a wider sound.

  • Use this chord when you have other instruments in the band such as Woodwind, Piano and Brass./li>

Because this chord sounds brighter, it often works beautifully with other types of instrumentation. Dreamy!

C-maj-7

Cmaj7 guitar chord – as a moveable G shape. (An interesting and advanced voicing.)

Just like our Cmaj7 guitar chord (root on D string), this Cmaj7 guitar chord with it’s root on the G string also has a lovely top end.

This voicing can be used in a variety of different musical situations and sits perfectly in a band mix. Let’s learn how to play this essential chord:

  • Barre your 1st finger over the 5th fret on the D (4th string), G (3rd string), B (2nd string) and E (1st string.)
  • Place your 3rd finger on fret 7 of the E string (1st string.)
  • Strum from the D string. (4th string.)

cmaj7-guitar-chord

When can I play this voicing of the Cmaj7 guitar chord?

You can use this in a lot of the same situations as the Cmaj7 guitar chord with the root on the D string due to its higher voicing, because of this it tends to work best as a secondary guitar part.

However, you would tend not to use this chord if you were the only guitarist in the band.

You will often see jazz guitarists use this chord, if you’d like to learn more about how you could use this in a jazz setting check out our guide: <Jazz Guitar Lessons by National Guitar Academy

Ok, we’ve looked at 5 different voicings of this gorgeous chord. Now let’s look at some technique tips.

How to play guitar chords – 3 essential tips

Tip #1 – Allow your thumb and wrist to move freely

When playing guitar, lots of beginners will keep their thumb and wrist static in one place. Although this is good practice in the beginning, this restricts you later on.

  • Different types of chords require different types of wrist movement. This is dependant on what chord you’re playing, so don’t be afraid to let your thumb, wrist & forearm move!

(However, one thing you definitely don’t want to do is let your thumb slip off the neck. This is a big no when playing chords as you lose all the strength behind the guitar chord. )

Cmaj7 Guitar Chord

Tip #2 – Use your finger tips

So many people get this wrong. Try and fret as close to your fingernail as possible, this will stop the fleshy part of your finger from touching unwanted strings.

If this happens your chords will sound clunky and muted and that’s not what we want at all.

Tip #3 – Stand your fingers up tall

When playing guitar chords, make sure that your fingers are standing up as tall as possible.

Ideally, you want the last joint of your fingers to be as straight as possible to allow the other strings to ring out clearly.

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Cmaj7 Guitar Chord.

3 chord drills for improving your Cmaj7 guitar chords

Now you’ve learned how to play the Cmaj7 guitar chord, let’s take a look at some chord drills which will help you cement this chord into your muscle memory.

The countdown drill

This is a great drill for any guitarist who wants to get a new chord under their belt. Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Spend 5 minutes getting the chord that you have just learned comfortable. This means making sure that your fingers are in the right places and that all of the strings are ringing out clearly.
  2. Once you have done this, set a timer for 20 seconds and see if you can assemble and strum the chord before the timer finishes.
  3. Do the same for 15 seconds. Then for 10 seconds. Then 8. Then 5. Then 4. Then 3. Then 2. Then 1.

This helps you improve, but also, because there’s a timed ‘score’ to each attempt, you SEE the improvement in speed. This is highly motivating because you can see that you are getting better.

If you find all of this too easy, add in extra challenges such as holding your hands behind your back, sitting on your hands, putting your hands on your head and putting the guitar on the floor. (Even though this sounds silly it can add an extra dimension of fun to your practice session!!)

Cmaj7

3…2…1…Go!

The next drill also uses a stopwatch and can be a great way of drilling in new guitar chords. The idea here is that you want to try and play the chord as quickly as possible. 

Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Get a friend to manage the stopwatch.
  2. Get them to press ‘go’ whenever you’re ready.
  3. Attempt to play the chord as quickly as you can!

As well as doing this, it’s worth keeping a record of what your time is so you can see how fast you are improving. Make sure that you are fretting the chord correctly as there’s no point practicing something that isn’t actually correct.

The chord change drill

The whole point of learning individual chords is to learn how to play them in songs and in music. However, a lot of the chords that you learn have a special relationship with other chords.

Here are 5 of the best chord changes which work with the Cmaj7 guitar chord.

    • G6 – Cmaj7 x 10 changes.
    • Cmaj7 – Am7 x 10 changes.
    • Em – Cmaj7 x 10 changes.
    • Cmaj7 – Dsus2 x 10 changes.

<li”>Cmaj7 – Fmaj7 x 10 changes.

Practice these on repeat and try and get your fingers to move quickly between each chord. </p

Then do the same changes in reverse.

To get more free chord drills download our guitar chord practice drill PDF.

easy-C-maj7

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