First Finger A Chord

I know you’ve heard of a minibar, but I doubt you’ve encountered this sort before!

Coming hot off of that weak G, I figured we could re-imagine the A major chord while we’re at it. Hopefully, the two-finger G hasn’t given you too many problems, but these alternate grips are just here to give you more options while playing. The more grips in your arsenal, the easier you’ll be able to find fingerings and patterns within tunes that work best for you. You can get pretty creative with it too!

Mini Barre

For this A chord, instead of squeezing three fingers into one fret on three consecutive strings, you’re going to just use one finger, your 1st finger. You’re basically going to lay your 1st finger down across the three strings, forming a mini barre.

Now, some people will find this very easy, and others will likely find it quite difficult! Don’t fret over it too much (see the pun there?!), as it probably has more to do with your particular anatomy than anything. Whichever grip you prefer is up to you and perfectly acceptable.

For this mini barre, try it out, give it a solid go for a few days, and THEN see how you feel about it. I think you’ll find that while it may be difficult at first, you’ll get the hang of it after a few days of practice.

Things To Watch Out For

For this chord, as with the classic A major chord, the thickest string is not played. The 5th string is left open, the 4th, 3rd, and 2nd strings are barred, and the 1st string…

Well, you’ve got some leeway when it comes to the 1st string. That thin E is included in the classic A chord, but personally, I’m not a huge fan of that twangy open string ringing out. More often than not, I find myself muting the 1st string with my 1st finger, just angling it slightly to mute the string, but not fret it.

That said, if you choose to leave the thin open E in, simply rotate your hand around from the knuckle to leave a gap between your mini barre and the open string.

Be wary of the big E, too! You’re probably used to not playing it by now, but if you want some extra assurance that you won’t accidentally strum it, you can try hanging your thumb over the top of the neck to mute the thickest string. If this is too much of a stretch for you, don’t worry about it! Especially if it affects your ability to barre, leave the thumb out of it. It’s not for everyone or for every guitar! - we will get more into using the thumb over toward the end of this grade!

When To Use This

As with the weak G, you might find that the mini barred A is easier for you to change in and out of when incorporating the A into a tune. Depending on the chords surrounding the A, it may make more sense to finger it, while other times you’ll want to utilize the barre. Again, we’re just exploring alternate ways of playing to give you a better understanding of the instrument, different options for playing, and more flexibility when it comes to creating and executing a particular sound.

See what feels good for you - but remember that this is going to feel awkward when you first try it (like regular A did all those weeks ago!) so give it a try. This is my default A Chord for most circumstances.


Lesson 10: Weak G Bamba