How To Play The A Chord

In the first lesson of our Beginner Course, we learned how to play the D chord. Now it's time to learn how to play the A chord! Here's what it looks like:

 

THE FINGER POSITION FOR THE A CHORD 

To play the A chord, we use fingers 1, 2, and 3 - all in the 2nd fret. 

When playing any chord, remember the positive finger placement! Always keep your fingers as close to the fret as you can. It'll help you to get the best possible sound when you strum the chord. Take a look at how I do it:

Place your fingers on the strings one at a time, in the following order: 

1. Place your 1st finger in the 2nd fret on the 3rd string. 

2. Place your 2nd finger in the 2nd fret on the 4th string. 

3. Place your 3rd finger in the 2nd fret on the 2nd string. 

You’ll probably find all three fingers together in the same fret a bit of a squeeze, but don’t worry! It gets easier with practice. 

 

HOW TO STRUM THE A CHORD 

Counting from the bottom up, we play only the first 5 strings. By now, you should know how to read chord boxes.

Let’s take another look at the A chord diagram below:

Notice how your fingers line up 2-1-3 from top to bottom. You’ll also see that the 1st string (thinnest) and 5th string have an O at the top. We call these open strings - we play them, but we don’t fret them with our fingers. 

The 6th string (thickest) comes with an X. It means that we don't play that string at all!

Go ahead and give the chord a strum! Strum down softly on the 5 thinnest strings with your thumb. 

Congratulations! You just played an A chord. :) We’ll talk more about strumming later in this course. 

 

HOW TO GET THE A CHORD TO SOUND GOOD

It can take some time to get the A chord right. Like everything else you learn on the guitar, it takes practice and patience. The good news is if you put in the time, you'll jump to it quicker and more easily than you probably think! 

When practicing this chord, do your Chord Perfect Practice. Here are some things to look out for:

● Make sure Finger 3 is not touching the thinnest string. 

● Make sure your fingers are pressing hard enough on the strings to sound all the notes out clearly. 

● Remember that Finger 1 will have to press a little harder than the other two fingers because it’s further from the fret. 

● Make sure the neck of the guitar is not resting in the palm of your left hand. You want to position your thumb at the back of the guitar neck about in the middle. Try to squeeze the neck between your thumb at the back and your fingers on the strings at the front. 

● Make sure your forearm is not touching your leg! 

 

SORE FINGERS?

You and everyone else! If your fingers are hurting at this stage of your guitar journey, rest assured! It's totally normal. 

I'll give you some tips and tricks to help you get through your practice without them hurting so much. But there’s a certain amount of pain that you’ll just have to deal with! 

Until your fingers toughen up, the soft pads of your fingertips flatten out and touch the strings where they shouldn't. Sometimes no matter how hard you press down, you still won't get a good note. Don't worry about it. You’ll need a few more hours of pain to get to where it no longer hurts. 

And if your notes sound wonky or unclear, and if you feel like you’re never going to get it, that’s normal too! Everyone struggles with this stuff. I know I did when I first started! Stick with it - it just takes practice. 

 

TIPS AND TRICKS 

Mini Barre: Sometimes, we play the A chord using a mini barre with one finger across all 3 strings. It’s cool, but I strongly recommend that you DON’T use this technique at the early stage of your guitar learning. 

The fingering we learn here is much better for positioning, chord changes, and toughening your fingers.

 

How Does the A Chord Sound?

Use this audio clip to check if A chord sounds good! :)

 

The Traditional Fingering for the A Chord

The traditional position for the A chord uses Fingers 1, 2, and 3, all in a row, in the second fret. I taught this position for years, but the way I teach now is just way better. 

The position I teach now allows you to get two fingers up close to the frets. It’s much easier to get a good sound like this! You can also change chords faster and more easily from this position, especially when using an anchor finger. We’ll talk more about anchor fingers in the next lesson.

 

Easy Songs with Two Chords

If you’ve learned how to play the D chord and now the A chord, you’re already able to play some fun songs. That’s right, all you need is two chords! We'll talk about this later on, but if you're up for an extra challenge, check out my song tutorials!

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