The C Major Chord for Left-Hand Guitarists

In this article, we’ll explore three variations of the C major chord specifically for left-handed guitarists and delve into the theory behind the construction of the C major chord, using both scale degrees and intervals.

How to Play C Major for Left-Handers

Open Position

Left-Handed C Major Chord (Open Position)
  1. Finger Placement:
    • Place your index finger (1st finger) on the 1st fret of the 2nd (B) string, which is the second thinnest string from the top.
    • Position your middle finger (2nd finger) on the 2nd fret of the 4th (D) string.
    • Place your ring finger (3rd finger) on the 3rd fret of the 5th (A) string.
  2. Strumming:
    • Strum the guitar strings from the 5th (A) string down to the 1st (high E) string.
    • Ensure that you avoid strumming the 6th (low E) string; you can either avoid it while strumming or lightly touch it with the palm of your hand to mute it.

C Major – A Barre Shape

C Major - A Barre Shape
  1. Finger Placement:
    • Use your index finger (1st finger) to barre (press down across) all of the strings at the 3rd fret, essentially creating a mini “bar” with your index finger across all the strings from the 5th (A) string to the 1st (high E) string.
    • Position your middle finger (2nd finger) on the 5th (A) string, also at the 3rd fret, just behind the index finger.
    • Place your ring finger (3rd finger) on the 5th (D) string at the 5th fret.
    • Let the 4th (G), 3rd (B), and 2nd (high E) strings be pressed down by the index finger’s barre at the 3rd fret.
  2. Strumming:
    • Strum from the 5th (A) string (which your middle finger is pressing down on) to the 1st (high E) string. Be sure to strum all the strings within your index finger’s barre, except for the 6th (low E) string, which should be muted.

C Major Chord – E Barre Shape

C Major Chord Chart - E Barre Shape (Left-Handed)
  1. Finger Placement:
    • Use your index finger (1st finger) to barre (press down across) all of the strings at the 8th fret, creating a mini “bar” with your index finger across all the strings from the 6th (low E) string to the 1st (high E) string.
    • Position your middle finger (2nd finger) on the 9th fret of the 3rd (G) string.
    • Place your ring finger (3rd finger) on the 10th fret of the 5th (A) string.
    • Place your pinky finger (4th finger) on the 10th fret of the 4th (D) string.
  2. Strumming:
    • Now that your fingers are in position, strum from the 6th (low E) string (which your index finger is pressing down on) to the 1st (high E) string. Ensure you strum all the strings within your index finger’s barre.

C Major Chord Construction

The C major chord is derived from the C major scale, one of the simplest scales for beginners to grasp as it contains no sharp or flat notes (accidentals). Below, we’ll explain how to establish the chord using scale degrees.

C major chord construction – using scale degrees

Scale Degree1234567
C Major ScaleCDEFGAB
C Major ChordCEG

To build a C major chord using scale degrees, we use the C major scale. The C major scale consists of the notes: C, D, E, F, G, A, and B.

To form a C major chord, we play the 1st, 3rd, and 5th degrees of the C major scale, which corresponds to the notes C, E, and G. When played together, these three notes create the C major chord.

C major chord construction – using intervals

IntervalRootM2M3P4P5M6M7
C Major ScaleCDEFGAB
C Major ChordCEG

If you would like to learn more about intervals in music click here.

The intervals of a C major chord include the major third (M3) and a perfect fifth (P5) above the root note of C. The major third, E, is four half-steps (semitones) above C, and the perfect fifth, G, is seven half-steps (semitones) above C.

Tips for Playing C Major for Left-Handers

C major is a very common chord, featured in any number of songs, so it’s an important chord to include within your chord repertoire. If just starting out on guitar learn the C major chord in the open position (the first example demonstrated above) before moving on to learning the 2 barre chord shapes (A barre shape, and E barre shape) shown above.

It is important to develop the required finger strength to press down on the strings effectively… but find the right balance, as pressing too hard will prove unsustainable for longer periods. Also, remember to keep your thumb on the back of the neck for support.

When practicing, practice slow, deliberate strumming and work on smooth chord transitions. You can read more tips on playing chords cleanly by clicking here.

About Marty

My name's Marty, I've been tinkering around on left-handed guitars for over 30 years.