The C Chord

One exercise that helped me and others get faster changes to C and other tricky chords was to vary the order we put down our fingers.

So instead of putting them down 1, 2, 3…try doing some slow practice in a different order … 3, 2, 1 or 2, 1, 3, etc.

If you focus on getting your slowest finger down first, you may see some real improvement in a matter of days.


Here’s something that I do when I’m having trouble with a new chord or just plain stubborn fingers…
Every time I pick up my guitar, I play the problem chord several times. Whenever I tune the guitar, I play that chord 1st, change chords several times & play the problem chord last.
When I am practicing chord changes, I always incorporate the “problem child” into the progression… it really helps me! Good luck with “C” !!!


The reason C is the hardest for me is that I’ve empaphised (still without success) muting the ^th string

Here is the problem, either Im muting the 6th AND the D (4th) string, or no muting at all. it’s a hairline to slant my ring finger to mute the 6th yet angled enough to leave the fourth open

I guess my question is how important is it to create this habit of muting the 6th for C or should I just hope that in the future ill ring out just the proper strings, just as in the A etc?

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Hi @jewrocks

Others may disagree but personally I would say that if muting the top string is getting in the way of you progressing I would drop it for now and introduce it back in once you are a bit more comfortable with the chord.

The C chord was the first chord I learnt back in the day and was never told to mute strings but once I started playing a bit, I naturally started doing it.


Hi Joseph,
I would actually offer a different view and say it’s quite important to create the habit and get used to muting strings in particular chord shapes. C sounds ok but not great with an open low E (imo), I wouldn’t rely on just hitting the right strings all the time, particularly in high energy songs.

C is the first really stretchy chord you get to and exercising your fingers to open and stretch that way is important in other areas later in the course so useful to start that process here and address positioning. When you say you are muting D with the current technique what finger is causing that to mute?


I am catching up on a lot of Beginner topics after neglecting them for too long due to other tasks at hand.

So here is a catch-all with lots of quotes and comments.

John - Justin repeatedly stresses through the Beginner course the necessity of keeping your thumb down behind the neck to help develop vital strength in your hand and fingers that will be needed as you progress. As Justin is not a beginner he often (and he can’t help it) defaults to a grip with thumb up higher, perhaps even a little over to mute the low E string. But he does try to check himself and restate that thumb behind is best if and when he catches himself not doing that in the video.

Good advice.

100% on that.

Yes, this is the advice Justin tries to mention whenever it is needed. He may occasionally forget to say it in a video lesson.

Good question, here is my take.
Muting the low E is not the primary aim of making the chord. The primary aim is all to do with correct and accurate finger placement and clean sounding fretted / open string notes. If there is a string not part of the chord (low E in the C chord for example) then option 1 for beginners is to try to focus on not hitting that string in the strumming. But if option 1 is followed unsuccessfully and the low E string is accidentally strummed then no sweat, it is not a big, big deal. Option 2, but one to consider only when more confident with finger placement etc is a secondary aspect of seeking ways to backup the option 1 (don’t hit the low E string) method and that is to try to mute the low E string. But it is not easy and is not an intrinsic part of learning to play the chord from the first step. It can come after if and only if a beginner has got to grips (excuse the pun) with the actual substance of the chord itself. The thumb behind facilitates and allows the fingers to form the chord from that first step so is not a detriment nor is it less than optimal.

Can you achieve the same result by slightly altering the guitar position and angle of the neck?

Ah … behind is good, pointing to the headstock is not.


Your fingers will develop more stretch over time (are you using the stretch exercises for beginnres?) and angle of neck and fingers makes a difference.

It is not a question of pressing harder - you do not want to apply more pressure down on the string as it will sound sharp, it is about a micro adjustment to your finger placement.

The action of your guitar looks high. See how far above the fretted note the open E string is sitting? That will be adding to the difficulty of muting with a small touch. It will be adding the difficulty of everything.
Look at this image. I have added some white arrows to show what I mean. Some small adjustments to your neck relief (truss rod) and your bridge & saddle heights will help lower that. If you’re unsure, ask in the Gear section.

If the muting is achieved to the detriment of the actual chord formation then do not worry about it. It is secondary. Chord formation takes 100% precedence over add-ons. Once you improve your chord formation the muting will come easier.

Good advice all round. It does look a little like your fingers are on top of the fret wire but I assume that is optical illusion otherwise your notes would not sound clean. They are also somewhat perpendicular as @jjw observes.

When a song (or your ears) want a Cadd9 rather than a regular C then all is good.
But on many occasions you will want and need regular C so do not neglect it and leap to something almost the same that you find easier.

Andre, your fingers 2 & 3 are still a little too perpendicular to the neck and your 4th finger needs to be hugging the others much closer - not pushed far away like a lonely child.


Try rotating the wrist of your fretting hand a small amount. In the pic above, the rotation would be to make your three fretting fingers also rotate a small amount anti-clockwise as we look at them from the front, angling them into the frets more. See the screenshot from Justin’s video lesson posted here.

A long way down in a secondary position.
Making the chord, good formation and sound clean is #1 priority above all else.



It’s the ring finger that is either muting 2 strings (6th and 4th) because id need to flatten my ring finger enough to touch the 6th this is, at the same time, causing the 4th tj be muted
(think about the G chord where the A is muted, same happens here with the D)

Or I’m not muting at all

Either or is easy for me
Flatting my finger = muting both
Tipping my finger in the A = no muting all all

Doing both seems a hairline of an angle tj me
Flag enough but still tipping

So I’m getting here mixed answers as to what to prioritize

  • continue trying somehow to perfect r C with muting
    Ot just ignore the 6th string muting thing

Not sure


Hi @jewrocks

@Richard_close2u is a guitar teacher approved by Justin so I would go with his advice anytime there are mixed messages from the community. He has suggested ignoring the muting and to just focus on the chord itself.


Hey Josef, having seen Richard’s very comprehensive response please follow his advice and ignore mine!! He is absolutely an expert, I absolutely am not :slight_smile:

I will wish you the very best and I hope we see a future post from you that says “I’ve cracked C chord!”.
:+1: :+1:


I have since been able to angel the guitar away from my body, i.e., flatter against me so I don’t see the fret board as easily for the 8 open chords and it has made things easier, YAY me that I don’t have to stare at the fretting hand as often. I also think I need a new strap because mine seems to keep loosening up changing the guitar position. (Maybe I’ll just a safety pin next to the buckle.)

I checked my thumb position while playing yesterday and am happy to report it’s no longer pointing toward the headstock; it seems to have rotated more towards the fret board now.

Yup, I finally figured that out.

Thanks for checking in with all us newbies, Richard, I know you’d been ill for a while and got backlogged with everything else going on. You need to clone yourself! :wink:


Haha thanks Rebecca - I think one of me is enough, perhaps more than enough on some days ! :rofl: :wink:


Hey @Richard_close2u,

Thanks for following up, it’s great to get your take.

The thing is, though, this is a video teaching beginners how to play the C chord. It’s not, say, a song tutorial where he slips into his old habits. He’s literally teaching beginners how to play the C chord. And he teaches it with the thumb over the top.

He may say it elsewhere, but here he doesn’t advocate playing this chord with the thumb behind and he certainly doesn’t do it. Actually, he does do it, but only when he’s demonstrating how NOT to play the chord! (He never mentions the thumb at all in this video, I don’t think).

I would love to get @JustinGuitar 's explicit take on thumb position for the C chord. For me, this could be a case of “Do as I do, not as I say”. (!)


Question, why use the ring finger for the A string instead of using the pinky?

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Welcome to the forum Will.
Using the plinky on the A string when playing a C chord will restrict playing chord extentions and playing embellishments. The only time you should use the pinky on the A string is when playing a C/G chord


Hello @willhagan and welcome to the community.
Exactly as @stitch says - what may seem an easy quick-win shortcut is a long-term handicap for progressing and being more musical with embellishments and movement with and from the chord.

Sorry I have been off for a while . My problem is, I can’t spread my fingers far enough apart when they bent for playing the chords. Still working on this.

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@Jack255 , you don’t need to spread your fingers apart. Look at the picture of Justin on the video posted above. His fingers are right next to each other. They are able to reach the various frets because they are positioned at an angle.

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I’m also struggling with the C chord during song practice. I’m on module 6, I moved on from module 5 because I was getting 55-65 changing from Am to C and C to Em. I find when my hand gets tired I struggle to reach the A string with my ring finger, so I miss the first beat. Chord perfect is fine and I get all strings ringing out, apart from the muted E string. I’m now getting about 40 changes doing C to D and G to C in module 6 but it falls to pieces with repetitive C changes during song practice. I think it’s just hand strength and muscles for the C chord that aren’t necessary for other chords that I need to strengthen. Looking at my hand and wrist position, it seems to be similar to what Justin is doing.

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Same thing happens to me! I can do almost 60 chord changes per minute from C to G and Am but when it comes to play a song my fingers don’t go where they’re supposed to. I know this one it’s gonna take longer than the other ones and that’s ok


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.

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