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I'm having a hard time playing the C chord on my electric guitar. The only way I can get it to ring without any buzzing is if I take my middle finger which is on the 2nd fret of the D string and move it up a bit so it's not muting the G string. Is this ok to do?

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    I'm just wondering whether you are a lady or a guy. Girls sometimes don't know that it could help cutting the finger nails. – Albrecht Hügli Jan 25 at 9:35
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It's just a matter of practice. And possibly correcting your hand positioning. My advice is to exercise on a classical guitar (too.) It's less forgiving in some aspects and will force you to learn how to play clean.

Also - really important - learn how to play with your left thumb on the back. Yes, even if you want to be the cool rock star with the guitar hanging down at your ankles. First learn it properly then start slouching.

And in the beginning if you need to use your right hand to properly position the fingers of your left hand: no problem. Speed comes with practice and proper playing technique, and is far less important.

  • I didn't read yours, but we mean actually the same. – Albrecht Hügli Jan 25 at 9:33
  • Classical guitars, with wider fingerboards, are going to make it easier to play clean open chords. But you're right about the height of the guitar - lower means more chance of fingers catching higher strings. – Tim Jan 25 at 9:52
  • Yes, exactly, that makes the classical guitar better for beginners IMO: it's easier in some aspects and more demanding in others. – Creynders Jan 25 at 10:14
  • It was the 'far less forgiving' part. – Tim Jan 25 at 15:05
  • @tim Ok, fair enough :) – Creynders Jan 27 at 11:56
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Bending a tune sounds like a bad idea. Then you'd just have one of the notes out of tune. Not OK. Your options:

  • Practice more! But while you haven't got it nailed yet:
  • Use another inversion/grip like an A-string-based barre chord on the 3rd fret. Barre chords are often a better fit for modern rock electric guitars anyway. (my opinion only)
  • If/when the C chord has an open high E string, then you can just mute the D string and not worry about it. You got all the needed notes C - E - G sounding already. (Even the G isn't absolutely needed, and you could do a C major with just a C and E note sounding. Or if there's a bass player playing C, the guitar only has to play an E.)
  • It's worth mentioning that the E (major third) of the C chord is already too high anyways in 12-edo tuning, so of all notes you definitely don't want to bend that up even more! In a minor chord however, bending up the third a little can actually make it sound better in tune, i.e. closer to just intonation. For major chords it can be benefitial to slightly bend up the fundamental instead, to make the major third a bit narrower from that side (though that obviously doesn't work if the fundamental is doubled by something else). – leftaroundabout Jan 28 at 22:14
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Certainly move it across a little, but never bend the string. That puts it out of tune, and no chord is better than an out-of-tune chord.

If you can play that note cleanly by moving the middle finger, move it before you play!

Another idea is to play the bottom string on 3rd fret as well - there's no rule saying a chord has to be root position. This means the little finger will be on the fifth string, 3rd fret, moving the ring finger onto the bottom string (3rd fret again). Whether you actually play that bottom string is up to you - but the change will give a little more space for the finger on the fourth string.

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I agree with these folks. I just want to add, just in case you happen to have really huge paws or the problem persists no matter what, that all guitars are not created equal. Some have wider string spacing, and some guitars can have the spacing widened.

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Yes, it matters when you touch the G-string! It would less matter if you'd touch the 6th string, as the E is anyway too low. So you can try to place your finger a little higher up on the frett.

Your problem might be caused by your holding (s. answers above), as you want to keep the neck of your guitar too low (for looking cool?). It will disappear if you held it higher like acoustic guitar player do.

Later you will find out by yourself how your wrist works (don't think too much about, just act naturally).

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    That 'too low' E string sometimes sounds actually quite good when an open C chord is played. But anyway, it could always be fretted on fret 3 - or as you hint - muted. – Tim Jan 25 at 9:55
  • I still can't lay my index fretted even after 50 years (as I still want to look cool), and because I've broken both wrists 20 years ago when I was trying to race on a skateboard like my sons (just for looking cool - instead I've never started smoking ;) – Albrecht Hügli Jan 25 at 10:17

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