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Lesson 11: The E shape guitar chord

A young woman smiles at a young man playing guitar

The fourth shape we’ll be looking at in this lesson series, is the E shape. Arguably, this is one of the most useful, and commonly used shapes, especially in pop music.

Just like the other shapes, the E shape is fully moveable up and down the fretboard to make other chords. 

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to:

  • join the G shape and the E shape on the fretboard
  • create and move chords using the E shape
  • play major chords with the E shape
  • change major chords into minor chords with the E shape

The G shape is connected to the E shape by the notes we play with our anular and little fingers. Those notes become the barre, or our new nut of the guitar, and from there we play an E shape.

A diagram showing the fingering of the E shape on the fretboard
One thing to note with the E shape is that when we play an E chord, in the first position, the root note (E) is actually just played as the open E string.

Therefore, if you are playing any other major chord using the E shape, and you want to include the sixth string, you have to use your index finger to bar the first note of that chord on the 6th string. The note played on that low E string is your root note.

Also remember, that what you do on your sixth string, you’re probably also going to want to do on your first string, since they are both tuned the same in the open position - they are both the note E when played in the open position. You won’t always want to do this, but in a lot of cases, you will.

Just as wih the other shapes, if we want to play a minor chord using the E shape, you need to flatten the third interval notes.

Go to Lesson 12: The D shape guitar chord

Photo by Andres Ayrton