How to Play an E Chord on the Guitar

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There are many details to consider if you’ve decided to learn the guitar. Before you can even begin to learn left-hand and right-hand placement and techniques, you’ll have to learn how to hold the guitar properly, which strings sound which notes, how to label your fingers on each hand, and much more.

What Is the E Chord on Guitar?

If you’ve just started with guitar lessons, or you’re even learning guitar completely on your own, you’ve likely heard of the E major guitar chord. The E major chord is one of the first chords that most beginners learn, and this chord can be played in many different ways to suit everyone, from brand-new players to expert guitarists.

Though the E chord is made up of specific notes, different voicings of the E chord will create different qualities of sound that may suit contrasting genres or musical styles in different ways. With E chord guitar fingerings, the possibilities are truly endless!

But before we learn more about this chord and the many forms that E chord guitar grips take, we must examine the root of all E chord guitar techniques: the E note.

How to Play E Note on Guitar?

Musical notes range from A to G in a repeating sequence, which means that you can find each note included in that pattern in multiple places on any instrument.

The different ranges in which the E note is found are called octaves, and the very first E note found on the guitar is located on the instrument’s lowest open string, also known as the sixth string.

Unless you take your guitar out of standard tuning, this E is the lowest note heard on the guitar. From there, in order to go one octave up to the next highest E, you can either press down the twelfth fret of that low E string or the seventh fret of the next highest string, which is the A string.

You can find the E note an octave above that on the second fret of the D string, and the next is on the ninth fret of the G string. An even higher E note is on the fifth fret of the B string, and the highest open string on the guitar is another E. The guitar’s lowest and the highest notes in standard tuning are E notes, so E chord guitar knowledge is crucial.

If you want to play one octave higher than the open high E string, you can press down the twelfth fret on that string. Altogether, the average guitarist can access roughly 7 octaves of E notes with which to play melodies and chords.

Now that you know where to find all of the E notes you could need, let’s explore the different types of E chord guitar fingerings and how to play them on guitar.

Best Way to Create an E chord Guitar Finger Position?

When most guitar students think of an E chord, they think of an E major guitar chord. This chord is made up of three key notes: E, G#, and B. All of these notes are of equal importance, but the G# in particular is what gives the chord its major sonority. When learning how to play E on guitar, here’s one of the easiest ways to do so:

The low E, B, and high E strings can be left open since each of these notes naturally falls within the E major guitar chord. However, to get this E chord guitar fingering right, you’ll have to alter the A, D, and G strings to make them sound as B, E, and G# respectively.

You do this by putting your second finger on the second fret of the A string, your third finger on the second fret of the D string, and your first finger on the first fret of the G string. Congratulations, you’ve learned your first E chord guitar technique!

Though the E major guitar chord is a great place to start, there’s another E chord that we can’t forget about: the E minor guitar chord. It’s an equally important E chord guitar approach.

This chord has the same top and bottom notes, otherwise known as E and B. However, the note in the middle is what makes the chord sound minor as opposed to major. To create an E minor guitar chord, we have to change the G# to a G natural.

This small change actually makes the E minor guitar chord slightly easier to finger than its major counterpart. You’ll keep your second and third fingers in position and simply lift your first finger off the G string, changing the note from a G# to its open state of G natural. It’s very similar to the basic E chord guitar fingering.

Need a refresher on which finger is represented by which number for guitar playing? The first thing to keep in mind is that only the fingers on the left hand are represented by numbers (unless you play guitar left-handed, in which case it will be the opposite). The labeling is as follows:

  • Your index finger is one
  • Your middle finger is two
  • Your ring finger is three
  • Your pinky is four

Since guitar music doesn’t generally use the thumb to fret any notes, the thumb is not referred to by a number and is mainly used to anchor the hand to the guitar’s neck. For standard right-handed players, the fingers of your right hand will be identified by a completely different system for fingerpicking-style playing.

Phina Pipia

Phina Pipia is a writer, educator, and performer. Her work can be found at phinapipia.com.

Phina Pipia

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