E major is a foundation chord heard in several country, pop, blues, and rock songs. It’s also one of the primary major chords that new guitar players learn.
In this quick guide today, we show you how to play E major on guitar and simplified versions to help you get started.
How to Play E Major on Guitar
Many beginners find it challenging to learn because it requires finger agility and coordination. Fortunately, there are simplified versions, making it a breeze to play without compromising good sound.
We’ll start by diving into the deep end and explaining the most common—and trickiest way—to play the E chord. Here, you’ll use three fingers to produce a deep, thick sounding E major, which you can later play together with other chords.
Here’s how you do it:
- Place your pointer finger on the first fret on the G string (the third string)
- Set your second finger on the second A string fret (the fifth)
- Then lay your ring finger on the second fret on the D string (the fourth)
- Hit all six strings as you strum in a downward motion from the low E string
Learning how to play the E chord this way will give you a much better sound since you’re hitting several notes, such as E, B, G#, E, B, E.
Read next: Try some great online guitar lessons to ramp up your playing ability quick!
Simplified Ways to Play E Chord
Because the above is a medium-difficulty chord to hit, especially in an up-beat tempo, we’ve collected some alternative ways that you can hit that angelic E:
If you’re doing a simplified E major, E7 is the best way to go without compromising sound. Although it requires fewer fingers, it offers a solid balance of sound quality and playability.
To play this version, you need your index finger and middle finger:
- Lay your index finger on the first fret third string.
- Set your second finger on the second fret on the A (fifth) string
- Strum all six strings in a downward motion for the best sound
Also try: Gm (G minor) chord
Another two-finger version of the E chord is E5. Although similar to E7, E5 is more bass-heavy and ideal for heavy blues, rock, punk, and even metal. However, it’s also the easiest to mess up. This is because it sounds like an E major due to the top half, but the sound will be off if you hit all the strings.
To play E5, here’s what you do:
- Apply your first finger to the A string fret (the fifth string) on the second fret
- Then with your middle finger, place it on the second D string fret (the fourth string)
Now, when playing E5, it’s crucial that you only play the fourth, fifth, and sixth string. If you play more than this, the sound will be off, and it will no longer be an E5 but an E minor chord. It can be tricky hitting the right strings, so keep practicing.
Once you get it, try it on an electric guitar with an overdriven or distorted channel. It’s also a decent sound on an acoustic guitar, but it needs some of that depth the electric gives it.
Give it a try: A major chord (A)
One-Finger E Chord
If you’re new to the guitar, an easier way to play the E chord is using the one-finger method. This will give you the basic sound of the E. However, it doesn’t have the same fullness and character as the other methods, so we recommend focusing on the above.
Still, to play E major with one finger, all you do is place your index finger on the G string—the third from the bottom. Now, unlike the method above, with this, you should only hit three strings—one to three.
As you may guess, this is where the E loses some of its sound since you aren’t hitting all the strings.
Try an E variant: The tough Eb guitar chord
Additional One-Finger E
There are more ways to play the E note, although these aren’t technically chords but single notes. Simply place your finger on the E note—the second fret on the fourth string—and then play the top and bottom strings open.
The sound isn’t very full, but it’s a good starting point if you’re just learning how to play E major on guitar.
Give some of these variations a go and you’ll be well on your way to learning guitar quickly!
Give some other chords a try:
Last Updated on January 2, 2021 by Liam F. Admin