The C chord



You can learn how to play the open position C chord and CAGED C shape!

In the video lesson above, you learn about the C chord and how to play it on the guitar in the open position, as well as a C shape.

You may think, why do we need a video on how to play a C chord? Isn’t looking at a chord box enough?

Well, it’s what you can and can’t do with it that matters and this is what you learn in the video guitar lesson.

Once you can play it, which means playing it in context, so in a few different songs, switching to it and from it, strumming, picking, etc. Once you can do that, you must look at how to turn this into a moveable shape.

Here’s a C as an open position chord as well as a moveable, C-shaped chord. This image is taken from Chordacus.

Open position C chord/shape

The next step is to identify all intervals. Low to high we have root, 3rd, 5th, root, 3rd.

This is very unusual, most guitar chords aren’t laid out in perfect ascending order of the intervals like this. Only the C chord/shape is.


C chord extensions

If we want to extend this chord, we do so by understanding how to build a chord theoretically, in combination with understanding the possibilities of this C-shaped chord.

Here are all possible chords we can build using a C shape.

  • C major chord (root, 3rd, 5th, root, 3rd)
  • Csus2 (root, 2, 5, root)
  • Cadd9 (root, 3, 5, 9)
  • Csus4 (root, 4, 5, root)
  • C7sus4 (root, 4, b7, root)
  • C6 (root, 3, 6, root)
  • C6/9 (root, 3, 6, 9)
  • Cmaj7 (root, 3, 5, 7)
  • C7 (root, 3, b7, root)
  • C9 (root, 3, b7, 9)
  • C7b9 (root, 3, b7, b9)
  • C11 (root, b7, 9, 11)

You need actual songs that have these chords in them in order to fully understand, remember and be able to recognize them by ear.

For example, Talking About a Revolution plays a Cadd9 with an open E string. Time Of Your Life doesn’t.

To experience a Csus2 chord in a C shape, check Rewind by Paolo Nutini.

A Csus4 in the open position can be found in Angie by The Rolling Stones.

A great example of open position Cmaj7, and C7 chords is to be found in Kiss Me by Sixpence None The Richer.

As a C-shaped E, we can use the open E string, this is done in Angels by Robbie Williams.


Building scales and arpeggios around the C chord/shape

There are more things you can do to this C shape, we can turn it into two arpeggios, a Major Pentatonic, the major scale (Ionian), Lydian, and Mixolydian.

Below are all intervals used to build these arpeggios and scales around the C-shaped chord.

If you can see all intervals around the chord shape, you can play all these arpeggios and scales.

Maj7 ArpeggioR357
Dom7 ArpeggioR35b7
Major PentatonicR2356
Major ScaleR234567
MixolydianR23456b7
LydianR23#4567

Guitar chords

Learn how to build minor and major guitar chords using the CAGED system.

This is the foundation upon which we learn to extend chords and build arpeggios and modes as well.

Go to Guitar chords.