How to Play the C Guitar Chord: Tips & Tricks

The C guitar chord is one of the most common guitar chords of all. In this lesson we’ll look at some super-easy ways to play this fundamental chord.

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Easy ways to play C

Its full name is “C Major” but most of the time people just call it, “C”.

In its full form it looks like this:

C Major

C 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!)

‘Wow, the C guitar chord looks difficult to play…’

Yes, this is a tough chord for beginner guitarists to play because it’s spread over three frets, so it requires three fingers to be ‘split’. This is hard in the early days of learning guitar as you don’t have the necessary amount of dexterity, flexibility or strength in your fingers yet.

But don’t worry, thankfully there are some much easier versions of the C guitar chord that you can play that still sound good and will act as ‘stepping stones’ for you in learning the full version of C.

‘Ok, show me the best way to play the C guitar chord as a beginner guitarist’

My preferred version of the C guitar chord for beginner guitarists is called ‘C Major 7’. It looks like this:

C Major 7

As you can see this only requires 2 fingers which makes it much easier to play. The chord sounds very similar to a full C chord (because it retains the most important notes).

The Golden Rule when playing C Major 7

During your first 4-6 hours of playing guitar it’s best to play C Major 7 exactly as shown above. At that early stage you just want to get comfortable holding the guitar and strumming simple chords.

Guitar Finger NumbersBut once you have 6-10 hours of guitar playing under your belt you should begin playing this chord with fingers 2 and 3 (instead of 1 and 2). This will make it much easier for you to progress to play a the full C guitar chord in the near future, as you’ll be accustomed to having finger 1 spare. Adding it on at a later date will be easy.

Trust me, this is hugely important and is the key to learning how to play a full C guitar chord quickly.

However, if you break this ‘Golden Rule’ and continue to play C Major 7 with fingers 1 and 2 (which initially feels more natural) then you will take no long-term benefit from playing it, as the full C shape will still feel foreign and difficult when you eventually try to play it.

Learning to play C Major 7, with fingers 2 and 3, is the ideal stepping stone for you to use in learning to play a full C guitar chord.

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‘Great! What other versions of C should I know about?’

Cadd9 is a fabulous version of C. It’s pronounced “C added nine” and is a great chord to get under your belt, particularly for acoustic players. It sounds wonderful and flows very nicely before or after a G chord. It looks like this:


C guitar chord

As you can see Cadd9 is basically a G chord with the two bass notes played a string higher.

The chords of C and G frequently appear together, so playing a Cadd9 instead of C whenever G is the adjacent chord works very well. Not only because it sounds good, but because it’s a very similar shape to G; This means that your fingers don’t have to move much to sound great. Win win!

When the C guitar chord is needed before or after a G chord, try playing Cadd9 instead.

Go on, give it a try. It sounds good, yes? 🙂

Cadd9 isn’t a super-hard chord to learn, but it’s not an easy one either as it requires 4 fingers. Thankfully these are only spread over two frets and are similar in shape to G, so it’s a hand shape that you’ll quickly become accustomed to. 

NOTE: As with all versions of C, you should aim to not play the 6th string.

easy ways to play C

The Best Easy Versions Of This Chord

A super-simple version of the C guitar chord

This is the easiest possible version of the C guitar chord. It’s simple to play and is ideal for children (with their smaller hands). It’s also good for adults who are struggling or just starting out with guitar.

C Major (1-finger)

Guitar_Chords_For_Beginners_Cmajor easy

The biggest benefit here is that it only requires 1 finger. (Just 1 finger!) The biggest drawback is it doesn’t sound great – it sounds very thin and holds lots of treble.

But hey it’s only a stepping stone, remember?

This is a good place to start for a C guitar chord, but it would be much better to simply learn C Major 7 as that chord sounds better and is very close to a full C, which should be your ultimate goal.

So there you have it! Some very simple alternative ways to play the C guitar chord, one of the most common guitar chords of all.

The most common C chords

C - common chords (1)

That’s the majors and minors taken care of. Let’s look at a few more. Here’s some sevenths!

C - common chords (2)

Lastly, two great acoustic C chords:

C - common chords (3)

Here are some other cool-sounding C chords

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