Variations of the C Guitar Chord

guitar chords c

There are countless variations of C chords used on guitar, with each shape serving either to provide different tonal options or reduce finger movement on the neck.

An open C chord can be transformed into a C major barre chord by barring all strings at the third fret with your index finger for a different tone while still possessing all its notes.


No matter the style or variety, all guitar chords share a similar basic structure. All include a root note, major or minor third and so-called perfect fifth notes.

Chords can become more colorful by adding other notes from the scale. For instance, adding D to a C chord would bring additional flavor. How much color a given note adds will depend on several factors including its length and position within the chord and emphasis placed upon it.

Practice making these kinds of changes across a variety of chords will allow your muscle memory to memorize these changes, so use an app like GtrLib or ChordBank to help build fingerings correctly and develop skills. When ready, seek feedback from trusted musicians in order to ensure that the chords chosen support lyrical and melodic ideas.


Triad chords are three note chords constructed by stacking thirds from their roots. For instance, C major open chord has three notes – root C, third E and fifth G – and highlights the ninth, eleventh and thirteenth tones of its scale.

Memorize these shapes, and practice moving them across the fretboard – this will give you a firm foundation that can be applied across different genres of music.

Beginner guitarists frequently find the E minor triad one of their first chords to learn as it is very accessible and has a smooth tone which pairs nicely with brighter chords. Furthermore, its key role in many songs by artists like Sinatra, Bowie and S Club 7 makes this chord sequence very familiar; simply dropping an octave makes C7 (dominant chord that can be strung together to form larger four or six note chords).


Barre chords make a powerful statement because they allow you to play many notes all at once. While these chords can be challenging to play, as they require you to use your fingers differently from regular chords; creating more tension than typical ones. Your fingertips must approach the fretboard at an odd angle which can make maintaining consistent finger positions challenging as it risks getting in the way of other strings or notes.

As part of playing barre chords, remember that your index finger should play an octave above the root note to alter their shape and add different sounds without changing their chord itself. This makes barre chords especially useful in songs since you can freely navigate across the fretboard while getting new sounds without changing its essence.

Major Six

Major sixth chords, formed when you add the sixth note of a scale to a major triad, are known as Cmaj6, CM6 or maj6 chords. They make for great additions to your chord voicings and melodic arrangements as they can easily be moved across the neck by two semitones for Cm6, F6 or G6 arrangements.

Integrating major sixths into your chords can give them an incredible sound – just listen to Hank Williams’ “Hey Good Lookin” or Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me.”