E major Chord

Your first chord. The ‘E’ chord (also called the E major chord).

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Your first finger on the 1st fret of the G string, second finger on the 2nd fret of the A string and third finger on the 2nd fret of the D string.

At first place each finger into position one at a time. This will change the further you get on your guitar playing journey, as eventually the goal is to be able to place the fingers in the correct place at the same time.

Your fingers should be placed just behind the fretwire. As close to the fretwire as possible. If you are touching the fretwire the string will not sound correctly, and sound like it is muted. If it is too far back it will buzz. Notice on the photo above that my fingers cannot get all the way to the fret on each of the strings as my other fingers are in the way. This is where you have to make adjustments to your fingers to get them as close as possible as to get the purist sounding note. In the places that my fingers are in above gets the desired notes with the correct sound you will have to make your adjustments to find the optimal places for you, just make sure that all the notes are sounding out and that they sound clear and correct.

In the early stages it is better to keep your thumb on the back of your guitar neck. The further you progress you may find that you like to have your thumb come over the top of the neck.

At this stage it is better to have the thumb behind the neck, roughly in the middle of the neck but slightly towards the thickest E string.

Thumb behind neck

Thumb over top of neck

Thumb in a bad position

Palm should not be touching the neck


Make sure you are not using the tip of the thumb, only use the pad of the thumb to apply the pressure on the back of the neck.

It is important that the palm of your hand is not touching the guitar neck at all.

To play the E chord you strum across all of the strings. Notice that there are no ‘x’s on the chord box meaning all the strings should be played.

The most important thing to work on here is getting the chord to sound clear.

To practice this strum the chord and then to pick each string individually. Incidentally, this is the way you should practice every chord.

Pick each string. Make any adjustments to make sure every note is being played clearly. Then strum the chord. Keep repeating this process

Check to make sure that each finger isn’t touching anywhere that it shouldn’t be, for example the first finger isn’t touching the open B string or that your third finger isn’t touching the G string.

If this is happening you will need to make adjustments to stop this happening.

Try angling your fingers so you are pressing downwards with more of the fingertips.

Each time you get the chord playing correct by strumming and by picking the notes, make a mental note of your finger positions. You are teaching your muscle memory to always put your fingers into the same shape.

Unfortunatly there is no shortcuts to this process. It really is important that you spend this time getting this right.

If you try to rush this step, it is likely that you will fail to progress.

Top Tip

You do not need to apply too much pressure and grip too tight.

Your fingers will not be used to pressing down on strings. It will take some getting used to until you have developed the caluses in your fingers.

If it hurts take a break.

It is better at this stage to practice for short periods as often as you can.

One final thing to mention and this goes for all the chords. It is important that you remember them after you learn them. Obviously you can look at the diagrams if you do forget them but after a week or so of practice you shouldn’t really need to look them up.

Get them stored in your memory.

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