How to Play the E Chord on Guitar

On this page I am going to show you 5 ways for how to play the E chord on guitar. 
I'll show you the easiest way to play the E chord in open  position as well as  a few ways to play the E bar chord. We'll also get into popular chords that go with E, popular songs that use the E chord, and what notes are used to make up the chord. 

Is the E chord On Guitar Hard To Learn?

The E chord is actually pretty easy compared to other chords - however, it can be really frustrating if you do not have good guitar technique as your hands will not work properly if this is the case. We'll discuss this below as well as tips and tricks to learn it faster!

How To Play The E Major Chord On Guitar For Beginners

Here is the best way to fret the E major chord:

First place your 2nd finger (middle) on 5th string 2nd fret.
Place your 3rd finger (ring) on 4th string 2nd fret,
Place your 1st finger (index) on 3rd string 1st fret

You can also think of it as just play an E minor chord but add in the 1st finger.  Be sure your thumb is behind your 2nd finger. 
Not sure on how to read a chord diagram? Click here

How To Strum The E chord On Guitar

Strumming the E major chord is one of the easiest as you simply strum all the strings! Just strum from the 6th string down to the 1st and you got it!

Before we move on I wanted to also bring up this fingering.

 Sometimes players will use these fingers for the E chord because it is the same as the bar chord. In their mind they are thinking, well if I use these fingers I can just slide to the bar chord and not have to rearrange my fingers - I'm a genius!
However, this is not the way to think about learning guitar. This is very short sighted thinking as you don't always go from E major to a bar chord and you need to be able to smoothly transition to a bar chord regardless of any prior finger position. 
Further more, this fingering will cause issues when applying techniques or chord substitutions. It is recommended to not use this fingering. 

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E Chord Tips

The 1st tip to learning the E chord is to first learn E minor. The fingering for Em provides the backbone for the E chord but only uses 2 fingers making it easier. 
The 2nd tip is to to make sure your thumb is behind your first and second fingers. You don't want your thumb on the outside of your index finger as this will cause your hand to not be able to stretch or work properly.

 
The 3rd tip is for bar chords. When playing bar chords and your index finger (1st finger) needs to do execute the bar you want to apply pressure to the side of your finger. If you squeeze directly in your finger will bend and the strings on your knuckles wont ring out!

How To Play The E Chord Without The Bar

Here we have the E bar chord in a different variation than open position without the bar.  If you can make smooth transitions with this example this is a great stepping stone to doing a bar chord. 


Place your 1st finger (index) on the 6th string 12th fret. 
Place your 3rd finger (ring) on 5th string 14th fret
Place your 4th finger (pinky) on 4th string 14th fret
Place your 2nd finger on 3rd string 13th fret. 


When strumming this variation, either hold strings 1 & 2 with your picking hand or if you are strumming, be sure raise the pick up so you don't pluck strings 1 & 2

How To Play The E Major Bar Chord 

Now we are going to move on to bar chords and you are going to learn how to play the E bar chord properly. I am going to guide you through different variations of the E bar chord with easy variation getting progressively harder. 

Just so we are clear, when you use one finger to press multiple strings this is called a bar chord or sometimes spelled barre chord. 

Lets get started!

These first two E bar chords are quite similar so lets look at them side by side

To play this variation of the E bar chord, use your index finger on 5th string 7 th fret and lay your 3rd finger (ring) across strings 2-4 on the 9th fret.  

* Remember to have your thumb splitting the difference with your index and ring finger and keep your 2nd joint on your ring finger high so it can SCOOP and lay flat. 
 

Yes, the 2nd example is much trickier as you are performing 2 bars! Your index will need to bar the 7th fret while your ring finger is barring the 9th fret! Not only does this make it a bit trickier but you'll have to make sure your technique is on point so that your ring finger doesn't touch the 1st string. Both are correct but this example you'll be getting a bit more top end on the sound from the 1st string 7th fret.

How To Play the E bar chord hard

Ok, so you're ready to tackle the last version of the E bar chord. 

To play an E major bar chord on the 6th string, place your first finger on the 6th string 12th fret, your 3rd finger on the 5th string 14th fret, your 4th finger on the 4th string 14th fret, and your 2nd finger on the 3rd string  13th fret. 
Yes, You've already learn this above! Now, all you need to do is squeeze your thumb which is right behind your 2nd finger and then lay your 1st finger down on its side and press it sideways. 
 

** Note, even though I break down the fingerings 1 by 1, to play chords properly and make smooth transitions this all must be done with ONE motion. 

Now you know how to play the E major chord! 👊
Scratch that, you are like an E chord pro as you know a lot of ways to play the E chord on guitar!

Easy Songs That Use E Major

Def Leppard - Pour Some Sugar On Me
Journey - Don't Stop Believin'
Mr. Big - To Be With You

E Major Chord Progression Guitar

Here's a few chord progressions that sound great that use the E chord. Feel free to change up the orders and experiment with the sounds!

E - A - B
E - A - C# - B
A - D - E

G#m -  F# - E - F#
F#m - E - D - A
Bm - D -  F#m -E

If you need help learning these other chords, click here

What Keys Have An E Major Chord? 

Major keys that use an E major chord:
Key of E Major
Key of A Major
Key of B Major

Minor keys that use a E major chord:
Key of C# Minor
Key of F# Minor
Key of G#m Minor

What Are The Notes Of An E Major Chord?

An E chord or E major chord consists of 3 notes that are derived from the E major scale.
E   F#   G#   A   B   C#   D#

When you number the notes of a scale they are called SCALE DEGREES. So to make an E major chord we need the 1st, 3rd and 5th "degrees."

1      2       3      4     5      6      7 
    F#    G#    A    B     C#   D#

All major chords use the 1, 3, and 5 notes of a their corresponding scale. 

When these 3 notes are being played harmonically (played at the same time) you are playing an E major chord.

Notice from the chord diagrams, ONLY the notes E, G#, and B are being used. If you have another note such as a A note or a F# not it is no longer an E major chord!

That being said, you can have multiple E, G#, or B notes as show in the chord diagrams. Try playing the chords but only strum a few of the notes. Notice the chord will sound "thin" if there are only one of each note. By adding in more of the same notes you make the chord have more depth. You may even think of it as a darker or lighter shade of the same color.

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