E – The 1 Chord in E
- chord: E5
- count-in: 4 beats
- pattern: downstroke on the ‘1’. Repeat every 16 beats
Let’s take a look at the first of the six chords in the key of E that crop up all over the place. They’re in pretty much every song you’re going to hear.
The first chord E major – the home chord in the key of E major. It’s also known as the root chord. In the Nashville Number System for the key of E, it is the ‘1’ chord.
A Better Chord Voicing for E
Over the years, I’ve found different inversions of these chords – different voicings – that I think sound really good in the worship world. And they are are easy to change between. So rather than show you the traditional E chord, whenever we see an E chord on the word chart, we’re going to play a voicing of it which is E5. It’s got a kind of cool sound to it. It’s very easy to move to the other chords within the key of E – but we’ll cover those later.
Fret Hand Position to play E5
- Open bass E string (string 6, the one near your chin)
- First finger – second fret on the A string
- Slightly flatten our first finger at the first knuckle, so that the finger tip – and the fleshy bit underneath – covers both the A string and the D string at the second fret. Called a half-barre.
- Fourth finger – fourth fret on the G string.
- Open B string
- Open E string
It’s a great chord. It’s got a very open, ringy sound. It suits itself to rock hits, acoustic-style strumming, and to ‘broken chord picking’. We’re going to cover those right hand techniques later.
Practice – Backing Track – E5 loop
But let’s get started practicing this chord. That’s the only way to use it musically.
To show just what we can do with just the one chord, we’re going to add a little bit of power and drive to a backing track. The track is based around – depends how you look at it – either Pachelbel’s Canon in D, or a rip-roaring track by Lincoln Brewster that I love.
Our part to practice is count ourselves in 1, 2, 3, 4 then use a simple downstroke on the E5 every 16 beats (demo). Get a feel for how you can use that E5 to add power to that simple backing track.
And it’s always – as ever – worth listening to the backing track without the E5 chord, and with you playing it, and see the difference that it makes.
Just one chord – used in the right way – can make a big difference to the worship team!