The A-Major is one of those guitar chords that even someone who doesn’t have any experience at all can learn within the matter of minutes. That’s what it makes it so popular and this is one of the reasons why you find this chord in so many songs. I actually vaguely remember that someone told me there are close to 30 different ways how to play an A-Major chord on guitar. Of the cuff, I can think of a handful, but that’s really all I (and you) will ever need. A common way to abbreviate the A-Major is ‘A’, ‘Amaj’ or ‘A-maj’. For today we will focus on the easiest way to play this chord, which is in its so called “open position”.
Alright, here is a picture of the A-Major chord and detailed instructions on what to do with the fingers of your playing hand:
1. Index finger: 2nd fret on the D-String
2. Middle finger: 2nd fret on the G-String
3. Ring finger: 2nd fret on the B-String
4. For this chord, play all the strings except for the low E-String.
A common guitar beginner mistake is to play all the strings. And strictly from a technical perspective, this is actually not wrong. We will talk about that a little more in the theory section below. However, it is important that you don’t play the low E-String. Otherwise, the chord will sound strange.
A little bit more theory around the A-Major Chord
As usual , let’s don’t make things overly complicated here. As you already know, a chord consists of three or more notes played at the same time. In the case of the A Chord, these notes are A, C# and E. Now you see why I made the comment before regarding the low E-String. The tone ‘E’ is part of the A-Major chord. Therefore, intuitively one would think that it’s perfectly okay to hit the low E-String. However, as mentioned before, it would change the whole character of the chord – in a way, it ‘takes over’ the chord, and we obviously don’t want that. But try it out for yourself and you see what I mean. Play this chord one time with the low E-String and then in the regular way, without it. You will hear the significant difference.
Each major chord has a minor chord relative. In music theory this is based on the principle of parallel keys. The parallel key to A-Major is F#-Minor. If you know how to play an F#-Minor, then I’d encourage you to play both chords and combine them with each other. You’ll see hey harmonize very well.