How To Play The C Chord

I am curious, Justin suggests in playing Dm chord to use 4th finger instead of the 3rd, why not do the same for the C chord?
Personaly, I started playing Dm chord with the 4th finger but when started playing the C chord, I switched to the 3rd finger because now it makes it easier after I learned C chord.

Hello @Yossarian7 and welcome to the community.

For C you need to only think about using 3rd finger - as a long term investment it will reap rewards.

For Dm you can use either and in the long-term you will find occasions when you will be glad if you learned both.

Dmin with 3rd finger enables playing Dsus4.
Dmin with 3rd finger allows changing the bass note with 3rd finger.
This is all to come later in the course.

I hope that helps.

Cheers :smiley:

| Richard | JustinGuitar Approved Teacher, Official Guide & Moderator

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So, I’ve got little hands. I absolutely cannot mute the low E string with my ring finger without also muting the high e string with the chubby part at the start of the digit. I tend to wrap my thumb around the neck to mute strings (D and A chords for instance)… Is that bad? If it works it works right? C is a hard chord to form the shape with my sized hands anyway, I have to be halfway up the fret with my ring finger for the same above reason

Correction after tinkering with it some more. I can get the chord to ring out correctly 2 ways. Way 1 is what i described above using my thumb to mute low E. The other way is if my thumb is on the back of the neck and kicking my entire hand and arm out far away to give myself more room… but thats a completely different position than how I play any other chord and will make fast changes nearly impossible, and I still cant mute low E with my ring finger and play the note on A without buzz


And it will likely give you enough room to mute the E with the tip of your ring finger, not much contact is needed. Then practice targeting the 5 strings that make up the chord, slow and deliberate. Same with the D chord target just the 4 strings. Slow controlled. After time you will instinctively miss the unneeded strings. But it takes time and practice.
Keep you thumb at the back of the neck until you can do the above. Build the foundation basics first before worrying about thumb muting. That will come all in good time.

I asked a similar question a while back…

From reading the replies, I concluded there is no “right” answer. You have to figure out what works for you at your current level of development.

To sort of quote Justin:

If it sounds good, and feels good, it is good.

whenever I play the C chord my pinky finger keep raising up, should I try to keep it down while changing chords?

Hello Truong and welcome to our community :slight_smile:

To answer your question, yes. You will be needing to use your little finger for embellishments a little further into your guitar adventure.

Why don’t you pop on over to here and introduce yourself.


So, like many others, I have struggled a bit with the C chord. My chord perfets are pretty good. My one minuet changes are also pretty good (low 50s to high 60s). Where I have been struggling is when playing along with a song in the song app. My changes are NOT smooth. :slight_smile:

So I had this thought and wanted some feedback on the idea. The idea is to work on learning new strum patterns and chord changes at the same time. For 15 - 20 minuets at a time I will pick a strum pattern and switch between C and A…Then C and D…etc. Every 5 minuets or so I change the strum pattern.

I assume if I keep doing this for several days, the changes will eventually get smooth(er). Right?

Thanks everyone,


Justin teaches that practice does not make perfect, practice makes permanent. It’s probably not the best idea to divide your focus by practicing 2 things at once, in case mistakes creep in. Better to have one strum pattern nailed, and then use that for practicing chord changes. This lesson from grade 3 explains why you shouldn’t try to rush your learning (It’s not a complicated technique lesson, and it ought to be in module 1)

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15 - 20 minutes seems too long for this sort of exercise. I think it risks boredom at best. At worst - injury, from repetitive strain.

Also, as someone already mentioned, it attempts to teach two things at once.

Better to break things down into five minute chunks where you only work on one thing at a time, I think.

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I practice switching between two chords (D to C is my nemesis) without strumming and I use a metronome. If I can do it for a minute without errors I speed up the metronome, if I make an error I slow down the metronome.

Been doing this for a week now and there is a noticeable improvement when I then go to play a song.

The other thing that really helped me was to spend 1 min 3 or 4 times a day just practicing the C chord without strumming. Start off just hovering over the strings, then resting on the strings, then pressing and releasing. Rinse repeat. Then moving to put my hand on my knee between moving the chord and finally chord perfect exercise


Here’s the technique I used that has been really beneficial.

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I am a 60-year-old beginner, with only two months of practice under my belt. I don’t have the finger flexibility to play a C chord without muting a string somewhere and that lack of flexibility also makes it hard to keep my thumb behind the neck (it wants to point to the headstock). I also notice that I’m resting the guitar neck on my palm just below where the index finger ends.

I assume I should get out of this habit. Might that be limiting my finger range? I’m having a hard time not doing it. Even standing up with the strap holding the guitar fairly high, my default is to put the neck there – for leverage, maybe. Any tips for this? Thanks!

Hey Allan, welcome to the community! When you have a minute, consider dropping by here to tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a 64-year-old beginner who has been at this for about a year and a half. The lack of flexibility is frustrating, but I promise it will get better with time. It would be great if you could post a photo of your C chord so folks can get a visual of what you describe. Based on what you’ve written: I do think you’re correct that you don’t want to rest the guitar neck on your palm. To stop this, you might focus on fretting the string with the tippy-tips of your fingers (especially fingers 1 and 2 for C). Of course, you’ll include the slant that Justin describes, just be sure not to use the pads of the fingers to press the string. Using the fingertips, I think, makes it nearly impossible to rest the neck against your index finger. I think it may give you more mobility in your thumb placement as well. Here’s a photo from way up the thread of Justin demonstrating:

I’m sure you’ll receive more guidance from more experienced folks too. Keep us posted on your progress!

Thanks!!! Here is a quick picture.


Hmm…I wonder if you’ve got a little too much slant on the first finger? Also, for me (at my level) I position my thumb more on the back of the neck to help avoid muting the first string - but that may just be due my particular physiology. One other thing I’ve tried is moving my elbow away from my body a bit - just and inch or two. Just some suggestions of things you might play with!

FWIW, I’m struggling with my index finger muting high E when I play A and mute low E with my thumb. Been working on that for a couple months now. It’s getting better - at least I can make that low E ring out when I’m consciously practicing the shape. Now to get it consistent in songs…

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Re: resting the neck in my palm.

I went back to the beginning (learning the D and A chords) with an emphasis on trying to have some bit of space between my fretting palm and the neck. I’m trying it both sitting and standing up (with a strap all the time). Damn, it’s not easy!!!

It’s causing pain in the top half (and second joint?) of my thumb. The bottom portion of the thumb is a bit inflammed from certain keyboard moves, which I’m trying to get under control. In trying to not have the neck rest in my palm, I think I’m also pushing my thumb harder against the neck to maintain some control over it, to hold it in place. Also, my thumb is bent a bit as it’s behind the neck.

Doesn’t the neck have to rest somewhere? Otherwise won’t it eventually drop as you move and your strap moves a bit?

I’ll try adjusting my elbow position.

That’s alarming. Pain is always a warning sign. Often caused by pressing much harder than necessary.

Have you tried curling the top of your thumb over the top of the neck a bit? I found that worked better for me, even though it contradicted Justin’s suggested approach.

But my strong advice would be to focus on these pain issues, before you injure yourself. (And getting better hand position might indeed be the fix here).

For my acoustic, no…even though it is neck heavy. I have a good wide strap. Also, I lightly rest my strumming arm on the body of the guitar, which balances the neck weight, and stabilizes the guitar against my rib cage.

Both sitting and standing, my guitar neck is quite stable, without any support from my fretting hand.

I haven’t played electric for many, many years, but I had a couple of Strats, and don’t remember having trouble with the necks moving around…once I had a good strap and found a good sitting position.

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Echoing @Tbushell Tom’s comment about the neck resting in/on the hand: I don’t think we rely on our left hand to support the neck. With some (many?) chords, including C, my hand does not touch the neck at all - only my thumb.

How is the pain in your thumb doing? Again echoing Tom, pain is always a red flag. You might benefit from resting your thumb and perhaps icing it for a few days. Take it from an old runner: it’s worth taking a bit of time now to avoid repetitive stress injuries - those take a long time to heal.

Curious: did trying different elbow positions impact the pain in your thumb?


@judi Thanks for checking in. Having my elbow away from my body felt a little strange, actually. I don’t think it helped or hurt. Discomfort is still there, but only when I move my thumb in certain ways. I probably should see my physiotherapy guy and figure out which is typing-related and which might be from guitar.

I have some pictures, which I tried to take with my other hand. (Please excuse my unattractive nails.)
Several decades ago, I suffered a serious dog bite on my fretting index finger. That finger is a little bit smaller than my other index finger and also probably does not have as much flexibility.

This is how I was cradling the neck. At the base of my 1 finger.

I’m creating some space, so the neck is not resting on my palm, but my thumb is a bit crooked. If I have my thumb straight, I’d have sharp discomfort in the top part of my thumb, first knuckle and above.