Did you know that Pachelbel’s Canon is the most requested song for weddings? Today we’re going to look at an easy version of Pachelbel's Canon in the key of C for guitar. We’ll start off with the chords and then move on to a fingerpicking pattern. I also have a cool play-along track for you to practice with.
Chords in C
The first chord is a folk style C, then we go to a G. However, on the G we’re not going to place a finger on the first string (high E) as the fingerpicking pattern only goes up to the second string. We then have the Am chord, followed by an Em. Let’s clarify what the bass notes for those chords are. This will be important later on.
For the C chord, the bass is on the fifth string. Then, for the G chord, we’ve got the bass on the sixth string. For the Am, we go back to bass on the fifth string. Finally, for the Em, we’re back on the sixth string for the bass.
We then have an F chord, however, I’m going to use a non-barre version. This version looks like a C chord but with the pinky on the fourth string third fret and the middle finger on the third string second fret. It features a 5th string bass note. On the other hand, if you are comfortable with bar chords, feel free to play a barre F (with the bass note on the sixth string).
Putting It All Together
Now it's time to put all the chords together and get a feel for the form of this piece. We’re going to pluck only once at the beginning of each bar, which is also when the chord changes take place. So the progression is C - G - Am - Em - F - C - F - G. Play this a few times until you’re comfortable with the progression, before moving on to the next step.
For clarity purposes, I'm going to be referring to the string numbers as they relate to the fingerpicking pattern. This string number system indicates the order in which the strings are played. The first chord on this piece (C chord) features a string plucking order of 5 - 4 - 3 - 2. Keep in mind we won't be playing the high E string at any point in this song.
Try it with the first chord and work out the pattern. Plant your C chord and pluck in the order mentioned above. Play that a few times until you have it down.
We then move on to the next chord of the progression which is G. Here, you’re going to start the fingerpicking pattern on the sixth string instead of the fifth, as the low E string is where the bass note for G is. The rest of the pattern remains identical. Basically, you're hitting 6 - 4 - 3 - 2.
Next up is the Am chord. We’re going to use the same fingerpicking pattern, but with the bass, back on the fifth string you'll pluck the string in this order: 5 - 4 - 3 - 2. We then move on to Em where the bass is back at the sixth string.
The second half of the progression starts with the F, then C, F, and finally G.
This piece is as beautiful as it is popular. These Pachelbel Canon guitar chords in C are fairly easy to play, along with their fingerpicking pattern. This is also a great chance to work on your right-left hand coordination as well as develop endurance with your fingerstyle chops. Remember to take it slow at first and have fun.