The A Chord

Once you have your D chord under you fingers we can start on the next chord, A. Most people will still find it takes them ages to get their fingers in the right places to play the chord and probably your fingertips will be a bit sore - but that's normal, and we'll chat more about that shortly!

Now it's time for the A Chord

The next chord we are going to check out is the A chord.


With this chord, all your fingers are at the 2nd fret.

The traditional approach (which I taught for many years) has the first, second and third fingers, all in a row in the second fret. I prefer the newer fingering where you swap around your first and second fingers so your 1st finger is placed on the third string; your 2nd finger on the fourth string; your 3rd finger on the second string. The first (thinnest) and fifth strings are played open. Don't play the thickest (sixth) string. newer method makes it so that all the fingers closer to the frets, fingers 2 and 3 are right next to it and the first finger just pushes in from behind.

I would recommend that you use the new method but if you have learned the traditional way then stick with that, it's ok, and I learnt using the traditional fingering. Later I will show you an easier and more useful way to play it - but it is important that you play it this way for now!

You should not pick the sixth string; all the rest should sound. Put your fingers down and then strum, check each individual note, and then strum again. Later you might use your thumb to mute the sixth string, but keep your thumb behind the neck for now to build up that muscle in between your thumb and your 1st finger. It should start getting a bit tired if you are doing it right!

Watch that your 3rd finger is not touching the first string, and that your fingers are pressing hard enough to get all the notes sounding out. This chord can take a bit of adjustment to get right. Check that your left-hand palm is not touching the neck; your thumb should be supporting your hand.

You can use this audio clip to check that your chord is sounding cool.

Finger Pain

It's normal at this stage for your fingers to be hurting really badly, for notes not to be coming out clearly, and a feeling that you might never get it. Pretty much everyone got that feeling when they started, I sure did! Just stick with it. It just takes practice.

When your fingers are not yet toughened up, the soft pads spread out and touch the strings in places they shouldn't. Sometimes you won't be able to press hard enough to get a good note. Don't worry about it—it will come—it's just going to need more hours of pain to get through to enjoying it!

Fingering Options

I would recommend that you use the new method I teach in this course. If you have learned the traditional way (fingers 1/2/3 in a row) then stick with that —it's O.K.—I learnt using the traditional fingering But I believe that this 2/1/3 fingering is far better for beginners. Later I will show you an easier and more practical way to play it.

NOTE: I would strongly not recommend getting into using a mini-barre (using just one finger to press down all the notes of the chord) at this stage (in case you have seen it somewhere else). It is a cool technique to use later, but for learning chord changes, getting your finger positions correct, and above all, to toughen them up, you are best off starting with the A fingering shown here.

Moving On...

So when you can put your fingers into the right places it's time to move onto the next lesson - don't expect to get to the chords super quickly, it's probably going to feel REALLY difficult and you'll feel like it's impossible - but it's not - it's just these early stages that feel SO hard! Your fingers will toughen up and get more flexible and dexterous in the next week or two!

Beginner 1: First Steps