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 is here to help you with your first steps into a world that might change your whole perception of what music is – forever. But, let’s start at the beginning: how to play an E chord (also have a look at our chord of the week with some songs to play).
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 in part by the standard tuning in E. Follow the steps below to get started, and read the last two for some extra theory.
Step 1 – Tune your guitar in E
E is the standard tuning for guitars, and tuning in E can be done very easily with a tuner app such as KARANG, or an analog tuner.
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 that strings are counted from the bottom up, so the first is the high e, and the sixth is the lower E). The colored dots with the numbers show the positions where you have to place your fingers.
The transparent circles at the top show which strings should be played open. The number 1 on the left side of the diagram indicates which fret you’re at. This is useful for your orientation on the guitar. In this case you play an E chord at the very top of the neck.
Step 3 – Placing your fingers in the right position
The fingers you use to play the E are also indicated by the chord diagram. These are the numbers in the thick black dots. Handy to know is that 1 stands for your index finger, 2 for your middle finger, 3 for your ring finger and 4 for your pinky. So, with that in mind, it’s now time to take 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) next to your ring finger. Press them down well.
And now for the last mile, put your index finger on the first fret of the third string (the G string). Are all fingers in place? That’s it. Press 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? You can choose to close this blog post and jam away. No hard feelings if you do, really. But in case you want to know why you play an E chord the way you play it, read on for a bit of theory.
Each chord consists of a few basic building blocks: the root, the third, the fifth and the eighth (which is the octave). The octave and the root are the same tones, but they differ in pitch. The fifth note provides the chord with harmony. The third tone is the part of the chord that indicates whether a chord is major or minor.
Step 5 (bonus) – Scale of E
Why do we number the tones within a chord? Well, that’s because these tones come from the scale of the relevant key. The scale of E is made up of E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D#, E. What the crosses (#) stand for is not important at the moment.
What is important is 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 raised root or the octave. So what happens when you strike an E chord? Then you strike E-G#-B-E. For complex chord constructions see this blog post. Are you getting dizzy from all this theory? Give yourself some rest and practice the basics for now. Happy jamming!