How to Play the E Chord on Guitar – The Easy Way

how to play e guitar chord

As one of the foundational chords, the E guitar chord is a mainstay in every music genre. You can see this chord from some of man’s earliest musical creations to the beats that we all enjoy today on the dance floor and concert stage. It has a recognizable tune. After all, the standard tuning of our guitars has a low E and a high E. Playing the E major chord provides your song a rich, bright, and upbeat sound regardless of how you play it. Here is how you can play the E major the easy way.

The Open E Major Chord

Guitarists call this set of notes an open chord because you get to strum all six strings even though you only press three strings.

The classic E major shape requires three digits. Your 1st digit (index) presses the 3rd string on the 1st fret. Your 2nd digit (middle) covers the 5th string on the 2nd fret, while your 3rd digit(ring) pushes against the 4th string also on the same fret.

If you are an absolute newbie to the guitar, strumming this chord cannot be easier. Always start at the low E string or the 6th string at the upper edge of your guitar’s fretboard. From there, glide your fingers across all six cords until you get to the high E string located at the bottom of the fretboard.

You are done.

That is how easy it is to shape and play the E major chord.

Perhaps the only concern here is the clustering of the 2nd and 3rd digits on the 2nd fret. Folks with large fingers may find it difficult to keep their digits as close together as possible without touching other cords.

If you are the kind of person who has the gift of flexible digits, you can easily escape the three-finger alternative. You can use a two-finger alternate instead. You can use either your 2nd or 3rd digit to press on both strings 4 and 5 to create a baby barre.

You might want to know that the term ‘barre’ is nothing more than a fancy guitar-y word for pressing at least two strings on one fret. Since this alternative shape calls for the simultaneous pressing of two adjacent cords, you can call it a baby barre. 

A Two-Finger E Chord for Beginner Guitarists

The two-finger baby barre alternative of the E major chord we described above may not be easy for most beginner guitarists. It involves finger strength of either the middle digit or the ring finger, depending on your preference. Moreover, there are still three cords to press to give you the classic E-B-E-G#-B-E tonal pattern.

The E major seven or E7 is one of the easier ways to play the E major chord. 

Accomplishing this E chord alternative is as easy as playing the original without straining your digits. You retain the shape of the original chord and only remove your third finger from the fourth string on the second fret. 

This two-finger version is more comfortable to play for beginners. There is ample space between your index and middle fingers, separated by the 4th cord and on different frets.

One of the best things about this E major chord shape is that it strikes a balance between sound quality and playability. It sounds as great as the original E major sound but is easier to play. Youngsters will love using this alternative as an excellent stepping stone to playing the actual three-note, three-finger E chord.

A One-Finger E Major Chord Version

You might think that there could be no simpler E chord alternative than the two-finger E7. That is where you are wrong. There is a one-finger, three-note alternate of this guitar chord. 

This E major chord alternative requires you to press only the 3rd cord on the 1st fret. That is it.

As for the strumming, you only play the three lower strings. Start with the 3rd cord and glide your fingers towards the 1st cord.

The sound you produce can be on the thin side. However, it should still pass as an E major guitar chord. It is the perfect alternative for people who may have diminished finger strength to press on two or three cords. It is also ideal for children who may want to embark on a guitar-playing journey at a young age.

The E5: Two-Finger E Major Power Chord

If you are an aspiring blues musician, heavy metal artist, punk idol, or rock star, playing the E5 power chord is a must. The shape provides you with a bass-heavy set of notes that should give your music piece the oomph it needs.

The E5 is essentially an E major chord without the note coming from the third string on the 1st fret. You only have the 4th and 5th cords to press on the 2nd fret, using your index and middle digits, respectively.

Playing the E5 requires the strumming of only the three uppermost cords – strings four, five, and six. Strumming beyond the 4th cord also makes the E chord sound like an E minor. You want the richness and power of the E major in your strumming. That is why you should only strum strings four to six.

Barre Chord Version of the E Guitar Chord

Bet you did not know that the E major chord has a barre chord version.

There are two ways to play this version. First, you can place your first finger across all six cords on the 7th fret. On the 9th position, place your 2nd digit on the 4th cord, your 3rd digit on the 3rd cord, and your 4th digit on the 2nd cord. Mute the 6th string when you strum the cords.

The second barre shape involves using the original E chord shape starting on the 13th fret. Place your first finger across all cords on the 12th fret. Place your middle digit on the 3rd cord on the 13th fret, your ring digit on the 5th cord on the 14th fret, and your 4th digit on the 4th cord of the same fret. 

The E guitar chord is an easy chord to learn. You can stick with the original three-finger alternative or opt for the E7 chord. If you are adventurous enough, you can also check the barre chord versions of this guitar chord.


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