Useful Tips

Chord E (E major) on guitar

How to play the main variations of the E chord (E major), E major on the guitar
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Chord structure E (E major) on a guitar

Seen from the point of view music theory, then the E chord (E major) consists of the major triad of Mi, G sharp, C.

  • Tonic or prima - E (Mi).
  • Big third - G # (G sharp).
  • The pure fifth is B (C).

Prima, the big third and the pure fifth are the so-called musical intervals. I talked about them in more detail in the article, see intervals on the guitar.

Fingering Explanations

Strings from 1 to 6 are located from left to right (from the thinnest to the thickest). Roman numbers (I, IV and so on), indicate the number of frets on the guitar. Arab the numbers (1, 2 and so on) in the circles indicate which fingers you need to press the strings. For details, see the designation of fingers, frets and strings on a guitar.

  1. Forefinger.
  2. Middle finger.
  3. Ring finger.
  4. Little finger.

Finger chord E (E major) in five positions on the guitar

How to play E (E major) chord on a guitar? Below I have provided fingering with a detailed description and photo.

Fingering the chord E (E major) in first position:


  • 6, 2 and 1 strings are open.
  • Clamp the 5th string with the middle finger on the 2nd fret.
  • Clamp the 4th string with the ring finger on the 2nd fret.
  • Clamp the 2nd string with the index finger on the 1st fret.

Fingering the E chord (E major) in second position:


  • The 6th string does not sound.
  • Clamp 5 and 4 strings with the index finger on the 2nd fret.
  • Clamp 3, 2 and 1 strings with the ring finger on the 4th fret.
  • Clamp the 2nd string with the little finger on the 5th fret.

Fingering the chord E (E major) in thirds position:


  • The 6th string does not sound.
  • I hold the 5th string with my little finger on the 7th fret.
  • Clamp the 4th string with the ring finger on the 6th fret.
  • Clamp 3, 2 and 1 strings with the index finger on the 4th fret.
  • Clamp the 2nd string with the middle finger on the 5th fret.

Fingering the chord E (E major) in fourth position:


  • The 6th string does not sound.
  • Clamp 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 strings with the index finger on the 7th fret with a barre.
  • Clamp 4, 3 and 2 strings with the ring finger on the 9th fret.

Fingering the chord E (E major) in fifth position:


  • Clamp the 6th string with the ring finger on the 12th fret.
  • Clamp the 5th string with the middle finger on the 11th fret.
  • Clamp 4, 3 and 2 strings with the index finger on the 9th fret.
  • Clamp the 1st string with the little finger on the 12th fret.

E and Em on the guitar

You can play major and minor triads in several ways. Fingering, as well as a transcript of how it is more convenient to put your fingers, will be presented below.

Most often, there are 2 methods used for playing E-minor and E-major: in an open position and with a barre on the 7th fret.

Additional positions are applied much less frequently. Their study is optional. But we still advise you to at least try to hold E and Em in non-standard ways. This will be useful for coordination and mobility of your hand.

E major on 2 fret

Clamp 3 strings to 1 fret, 4 and 5 strings to 2 frets. 1, 2 and 6 strings remain open. The little finger remains free, and you can use it to add additional notes to the consonance during the game.

E major on 2 fret

IMPORTANT! Thumb position

When you play E or Em in an open position, watch for the correct position of the thumb. It should be pressed with a small pillow to the middle of the neck from the back. Keep your thumb away from the guitar neck. This will slow down the change of position in the song and can lead to pinching in the brush.

Clamp the strings with the power of the fingers, not the forearm.

E minor on 2 frets

To play E minor in an open position, simply hold down E major and raise your index finger.

E minor on 2 frets

HINT. Useful Life Hack

To make it easier to change chords in a song, hold Em with your index and middle fingers. From this position you can easily move to Am, C and G without making any extra brush movements. Also, this method will help you finish building Em to a seventh chord and a sixth chord right at the time of execution.

E minor with barre on 7 fret

Hold the barre again. But now with the middle finger on the 8th fret, hold the 2nd string, and on the 9th fret, hold the 3rd and 4th strings.

E minor with barre on 7 fret

HINT. 6 string in chords mi

A small life hack. In all variations of chords, you can play an open 6 string, as it is also tuned in mi. Many musicians use this to get a lower “punch” sound.

Exercise: Learning how to pinch E chords in popular sequences

The major and minor triads from the notes mi are very convenient in performance. The location of the fingers allows you to quickly change positions and move from one chord to another with minimal brush movement.

Below are the popular sequences with E and Em. But do not spend a lot of time playing sequences. Think of them as practicing the most difficult moments. Try to play more songs.

Sequences without barre

  1. C e am

In this sequence, pay special attention to the transition from C to E. Here, at first, you may have problems with the fingers moving.

Using this sequence, you can work out a quick transition between G, Em and C. When changing chords for the first time, do not take your index finger off the fingerboard, and the middle finger for the second. Try to play this sequence faster. At the same time, strive for an accurate and timely change of position.

The main goal of practicing this sequence is to start and finish the musical square with one Em chord. Independently determine the most convenient positions of the fingers when playing this sequence.

Barre sequences

The advantage of a barre is that you do not need to memorize fingering. It is enough to remember the location of notes on 5 and 6 strings.

This is where the popular F-E combination is practiced. Try playing these harmonies first in the usual way. Now play E by simply moving F 1 fret to the edge of the guitar. It turns out that you clamped the strings with your middle, ring fingers and little finger. This little trick will come in handy for you in practice.

TIP. Less unnecessary movements

Choose positions to minimize finger movement on the neck of the guitar.

  1. Am F G B E

In this sequence, you must play the barre twice. The greatest difficulty will be the transitions G - B and B - E. There are no secret techniques. Just work out this change of position until automatic.

Complete this sequence with a barre. Pay attention to changing a minor position to a major one. Ensure that when changing positions, there is no killing of the string with the fingertips.

This exercise is a slightly modified version of the previous one. There is one barre from 5 strings and three barre from 6 strings. It sounds intimidating, but play the sequence and you will realize that there is nothing complicated in it.

Famous songs using E-chords on a guitar

Below you will find a list of popular songs that use Em and E. All songs are simple and built on 3-4 chords. They are divided by genre so that you can choose the songs to your taste. When you get comfortable with the guitar and learn several types of combat, you can pick up more complex songs yourself.

Russian rock music

  1. Movie - "Last Hero"
  2. Earring - “What do we need?”
  3. Semantic hallucinations - "Forever Young"
  4. DDT - "Whistled"
  5. Zemfira - "Sign of Infinity"

Foreign rock music

  1. Linkin park - "Numb"
  2. The cranberries - "Zombie"
  3. Oasis - "Wonderwall"
  4. Metallica - "Unforgiven"
  5. Evanescence - "Bring Me To Life"

Domestic pop music

  1. Leprechauns - “Khali-Gali”
  2. Grigory Leps - “A glass of vodka”
  3. Glory - "Loneliness"
  4. Oleg Gazmanov - "Fog"
  5. Lube - "Call me quietly by name"

Chanson, rap and yard songs

  1. Trofim - "The wind in my head"
  2. Ellipsis - "It happens"
  3. 25/17 - "Waiting for a miracle"
  4. Igor Slutsky - “There”
  5. Vladimir Vysotsky - "Trouble"

ATTENTION! Increased difficulty level.

If you feel strong in yourself, try playing the opening riff for the song. Black sabbath - "Heaven and Hell." This composition begins with Em, played with a barre on 7 fret.

The sequence is as follows:

Em - F # - G - Am - G - F # - Em.

Everything is played with barre.

Chords that enter the keys in E major and E minor

The key in E minor is one of the most popular in modern music. This is largely due to the lack of sharps and flats in the performed harmonies. E major is used much less often, although songs such as “My heart will go on” by Celine Dion and “Under the bridge” by RHCP are written in this key.

KeyMain chordsExtra Chords
E majorEABC # mF # mG #G # mC #
E minorGAmBCDEmBmE

Interesting Facts

  1. Em is a chord (minor, major triads and seventh chords) that can be played without using the left hand at all. To do this, play the first three strings open.
  2. We have no variation with a sharp. Mi half a ton higher is the fa. Nevertheless, in the orchestral music you can sometimes find a m-sharp, but this does not happen often and is associated with the use of alteration signs in the key.
  3. In the song of the group Metallica The "Nothing else matters" intro is built on brute force Em. James Hetfield composed it when he was talking on the phone and could not play with both hands.