As you look at your recent purchase, you realize it’s a dream come true: a shiny new guitar. Hmm, but now what? Don’t worry, Chordify will help you with your first steps into a world that might forever change your whole perception of what music is. But, let’s start at the beginning: how to play an E chord (for inspiration have a look at our chord of the week for song in E).

Why an E chord? Because this is the most basic chord on your guitar. It’s also a starting point for a lot of melodies and common chord progressions on guitar. This is determined by the standard tuning, of most guitars, in E. Follow the steps below to get started, and read the last two steps for some extra theory.

Step 1 – Tune your guitar in E

E is the standard tuning for guitars. And tuning in E can be easily done with a tuner app such as KARANG, or an analog tuner. Don’t have one of those lying around? Check out our blog post on tips & tricks form tuning your guitar.

Step 2 – The E major chord diagram

What is an E chord? Its shape is depicted in the chord diagram below. From left to right, we see the strings E, A, D, G, B, e. (Note: strings are counted from the bottom up, so the high e is the first, and the lower E is the sixth). The numbered black dots show the finger positions for this chord.

The transparent circles, at the top of the diagram, show which strings are played “open,” without pressing them. The number at the top left-hand corner indicates the fret. This is useful for your orientation on the guitar. In this case you play an E chord at the very top of the neck, on the first fret.

Step 3 – Placing your fingers in the right position

The fingers you use to play the E are also indicated in the chord diagram. These are the numbers in the thick black dots. All you have to know: 1 signifies your index finger, 2 your middle finger, 3 your ring finger and 4 your pinky. So, with that in mind, it’s now time to take out your guitar and start counting down the numbers.

Put your ring finger on the second fret of the fourth string (the D string). Is it in the right position? Good, now continue by placing your middle finger on the second fret of the fifth string (the A string). Press down on the strings.

And now for the last piece of the puzzle. Put your index finger on the first fret of the third string (the G string). Are all fingers in place? That’s it. Press down as hard as you can, and give all the strings a ring. Great! That’s what an E chord sounds like.

Step 4 (bonus) – What does an E chord consist of?

Now we can play an E chord. Feels good, doesn’t it? Now you can close this blog post and start jamming. No hard feelings if you do, really. But if you want to know more about the building blocks of an E chord, read on for a bit of theory.

Every chord consists of a few basic components: the root note, the third, the fifth and the eighth note (which is the octave). The octave and the root are the same note, but they differ in pitch. The fifth note provides the chord with harmony. The third note is the part of the chord that indicates whether a chord is major or minor.

Step 5 (bonus) – E major scale

Why do we give the notes numbers, like third, fifth, and so on? Well, that’s because these notes come from the scale of the relevant key. The E major scale contains an E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D# and another E. What the hash signs (#) stand for is not important at the moment.

It is important that you see this: E (1), F# (2), G# (3), A (4), B (5), C# (6), D# (7), E (8). The 1 is the root, the 3 is the third, the 5 is your fifth and the 8 is your the octave. So, what happens when you strike an E chord? Then you strike E-G#-B-E. If you want to know more, check out our blog about  chord constructions. Is all this theory making you dizzy? Give yourself some rest and practice the basics for now. Happy jamming!

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