How to play

How to play the C major over E chord on guitar

Learn to play the iconic chord from "Let It Be" and "Hey Jude" by The Beatles.

The C major over E chord

The C chord, pronounced "C major over E," is a unique voicing that adds a bright, jangly sound to your playing. This chord is notable for its use in popular genres like folk, country, and rock. The C/E chord can be heard in songs such as "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman and "Wonderwall" by Oasis, adding a distinctive flavor to the harmonic progression.

There are many ways to play a chord. Here's a diagram for the most common C major over E chord. We've also included other versions below.

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Finger placement for C major over E chord

The most common way to play a C major over E chord on guitar is on the 8th fret, using a barre chord shape.

Follow these finger positions to play a C major over E chord on your guitar:

  1. Barre your index finger across all six strings at the 8th fret.
  2. Place your ring finger on the 10th fret of the 5th (A) string.
  3. Place your pinky finger on the 10th fret of the 4th (D) string.
  4. Place your middle finger on the 9th fret of the 3rd (G) string.

To strum this chord, use a downward motion starting from the lowest (thickest) string to the highest (thinnest) string. You can also alternate between downward and upward strums for a more dynamic sound.

How to play an easy C major over E chord on guitar

If you're a beginner looking to play a simpler version of the C major over E chord, try playing a basic C major chord in the open position. Place your index finger on the 1st fret of the B string, middle finger on the 2nd fret of the D string, and ring finger on the 3rd fret of the A string.

How to play a C major over E bar chord

Playing a C major over E barre chord can give your playing a fuller, richer sound compared to the open version of the chord. It also allows you to easily transition to other barre chords or play the chord in a different position on the neck.

Here's how to play a C major over E barre chord:

  1. Place your index finger across all six strings at the 8th fret, creating a barre.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 9th fret of the 3rd (G) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 10th fret of the 5th (A) string.
  4. Place your pinky finger on the 10th fret of the 4th (D) string.
  5. Strum all six strings from the low E string to the high E string.

Common C major over E chord progressions

The C major over E chord, also known as C/E, is a first inversion chord that can add a sense of movement, anticipation, or resolution to a progression. It often serves as a passing or transitional chord, creating a smooth connection between other chords. C/E can evoke a feeling of lift, lightness, or a momentary shift in the emotional landscape of a song. Here are some common chord progressions featuring the C/E chord:

  • I - V6 - vi - IV (C - G/B - Am - F) - Used in "Let It Be" by The Beatles and "Someone Like You" by Adele
  • I - V6/vi - vi - V (C - A/C# - Am - G)
  • I - V6/vi - IV - V (C - A/C# - F - G)
  • I - V6 - IV - V (C - G/B - F - G) - Used in "Imagine" by John Lennon and "The Scientist" by Coldplay
  • I - ii - V6 - I (C - Dm - G/B - C)

Drills to master the C major over E chord

To master the C major over E guitar chord, try this essential drill: play each note of the chord individually, allowing each one to ring out clearly. Start with the low E, then move to the G, and finally, the high C. Focus on playing each note cleanly and in tune. Once you're comfortable with this, try transitioning between the notes smoothly, creating a simple melody.

Another helpful drill is to practice strumming the chord, ensuring all notes are ringing out simultaneously. Begin with slow, even strums, and gradually increase your speed as you become more comfortable with the chord.

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Songs that feature the C major over E chord

Here are 10 popular songs you can play with the C major over E chord:

  1. Don't Stop Believin' by Journey (C, G, Am, F, Dm, E)
  2. Let It Be by The Beatles (C, G, Am, F, Dm, E)
  3. Hey Jude by The Beatles (C, G, Am, F, Dm, E)
  4. Imagine by John Lennon (C, G, Am, F, Dm, E)
  5. Hotel California by Eagles (Am, E, G, D, F, C, Dm)
  6. Wonderwall by Oasis (Am, C, E, F, G)
  7. Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd (D, C, G)
  8. Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver (G, D, Em, C, Am)
  9. Stand By Me by Ben E. King (A, F#m, D, E)
  10. Zombie by The Cranberries (Em, C, G, D)

How a guitar teacher can help

If you feel stuck in your playing, it might help to take personalized guitar lessons with an expert guitarist. Taking lessons with a pro gives you access to the skills, feedback, and motivation to reach your goals.

You can find expert guitar teachers to support you in the journey. Thousands of people have turned to online guitar lessons on Til, instead of traditional in-person lessons, because Til gives you access to the best teachers in the world from the comfort of home. And with flexible scheduling, secure payments, lesson recordings, and a private chat with your teacher–there’s never been a better way to learn guitar.

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