How to Play the A Chord on Guitar, from an Expert

LessonsHow to Play the A Chord on Guitar, from an Expert

If you have a strong desire to become a master of the guitar, you should learn the A guitar chord. Do not fret. This chord is one of the easiest you can learn. Some beginner guitarists can master the A major chord in only several sessions. A few can master the chord in one sitting. Mastering the A chord opens many guitar-playing possibilities for you. You can play almost any song there is on any songbook. Best of all, you also get to develop finger strength and dexterity. So, how do you play the A chord on your guitar?

The Classic Three-Note, Three-Finger A Major Chord Shape

Want to play R.E.M.’s Everybody Hurts or U2’s Yellow or any other music piece that has the A chord? You should do your best to learn the A chord’s fundamental form. It is one of five guitar chords that only require three fingers to play three notes to create a harmonious sound.

The most common way to play the A major chord is by using your index, middle, and ring fingers. We also call these digits the first, second, and third fingers, respectively. Your index is the fourth digit. 

The A major chord form is a set of three consecutive notes on the second fret. While you only press three strings, you will need to strum five cords. More about this later.

The three strings you need to press are the second, third, and fourth cords that correspond to the B, G, and D notes. 

As such, use your first finger to press on the B string, your second digit on the G string, and your third digit on the D string.

It has a tight shape. It can be problematic for guitarists with stubby digits. If you are one of these guitarists, you may want to pack your fingers as tightly as possible.

It can be uncomfortable at first, but you will eventually get accustomed to it.

It is also essential that you press the strings only with your fingertips and not with the finger pads. If possible, your fingers should be perpendicular to the strings to provide a more stable and greater pressure on the strings. Having said that, you may want to trim those nails.

Some guitarists also find it easier to use only the first finger to cover all three A chord strings than using three digits. This technique works well for those with long and flexible digits. They can press on all three cords easily. The issue here is that their digit might also press on the first cord.

Strumming the Classic A Guitar Chord 

Shaping your fingers right is one thing. Knowing how to strum the correct cords is another matter. 

It is common for beginner guitarists to strum all six cords. Doing so creates a sound that has a different bass note. Hitting the sixth cord on the downstroke produces a substantially lower tone than starting your downstroke at the fifth string.

You see, the A major chord requires you to mute the sixth or the topmost cord in the guitar fretboard. It puts the bass note on the A, not on the low E. 

If you are going to use the index finger-only A chord style, you should strum only until the B string. Remember what we said about the first digit’s tendency to touch also the first string? Not strumming the first cord should still give you that phenomenal A major chord sound. 

Not strumming all the way to the first cord allows you to form a bar on the four lower strings, starting at the fourth cord. You can also wrap your hand on the guitar neck to mute the sixth cord with your thumb. That is if you can.

The Asus2 – An Easier Version of the A Major Chord

Grouping three digits on the same fret, pressing three different strings can be challenging for some people. One way to go around this is to perform the Asus2 guitar chord. This chord is one of few guitar chords that can be a passable alternative to the A guitar chord.

It has almost the same shape as the A major chord, except for the absence of the finger pressing on the second cord. As such, you will only use your first and second fingers to press on the fourth and third strings, respectively.

Strumming this shape still follows the original A major chord.

The Asus2 chord is a great stepping stone for beginner guitarists. They do not have to strain that much, allowing them to use only two digits. With time and practice, you should be able to develop finger strength and flexibility.

The Two-Note, Two-Finger A7 Guitar Chord

The Asus2 may look easy enough. Unfortunately, guitarists with stubby digits may still find the technique challenging and stressful. The answer? The A7 chord.

Starting with the classic A major chord shape, you only need to make the third cord as an open string. You can position your first digit on the fourth cord and your second digit on the second string. The third cord serves as a spacer to separate your two fingers, making the playing of the A chord as effortless as possible.

The A Major Chord for Advanced-Beginner Guitarists

Did you know that there is a barre chord version of the A major chord?

You do this by covering all six strings on the fifth fret with your first digit. Next, use your second finger to press the sixth fret’s first string and your third finger on the seventh fret’s fifth string. Complete the shape by using your fourth digit to press on the seventh fret’s fourth string.

This A chord shape will push your fingering capabilities to the max. However, it is one of the best A chord techniques you can employ, mainly in songs that have plenty of barre chords. 

You might want to start with the easy A chord versions first before you attempt the barre version.

Learning how to play the A guitar chord is one of the easiest guitar chords you can learn. You can master it in a few sessions if you already have flexible fingers, setting you up for its barre chord version. Otherwise, you should start with the two-finger methods to help get a feel for the A major chord.

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