A-shaped barre chords using pinky finger

I’m learning A-shape barre chords, and find it a lot easier to get it sounding clear consistently if I use my little finger to barre strings 2, 3, 4 rather than the ring finger, particularly for B or B-flat.

Will I get arrested by the fingering police for doing this, and would it be for good reason (e.g. limiting me from doing something very useful later)? Or is it going to be only limiting for special cases doing embellishments/sus chords etc that are not particularly common?

Hi Sajid, My fingers and hands dictated that A shape Barre chords were always played with my pinky in the first position, frets 1 to 5. Just recently however, I am now using my third finger and finding it much better. Do not worry, when the time is right you will change and free your pinky for supplemental notes. Enjoy the journey.

Yes it will limit you but if you don’t have the dexterity in your hand to play A shaped barre chords with you ring finger you won’t have the dexterity to play the embellishments.
Don’t let that stop you from playing them with your pinky. I know lots of good guitarist that use their pinky and it doesn’t stop them from jammin. It would be a good idea to keep trying once in a while and one day it will just come.

Justin uses this fingering for definite in certain situations so, if it’s good enough for him …
However, he doesn’t do this exclusively. Further up the neck, and also if you want to add a 7th with your pinkie, then you need to flex that ring finger

I do both depending on the situation, how I feel, if I want or need ny little finger spare to add a sus4 embellishment etc.
Using the little finger is no crime.
If it gets the job done then … there you go … job done.


Thanks…I’ll keep practising using the ring finger in parallel with using the pinky now to play songs in the meantime. Good to know it’s not a crime but that it’s still worth practicing both ways

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I was wondering this too. Thank you! (I just left a comment on another similar post).
I also struggle with using my 3rd finger and have just used my pinky instead. I knew it would be a disadvantage if I want to use my pinky for embellishments etc and do sometimes practice trying to use my 3rd finger, but haven’t got it right yet.

A-shape major barre chords provide all kinds of options and challenges. In addition to the above, there’s the issue of muting or not muting the two E strings (four choices - either one muted, neither or both). Each person I’ve asked about this offers a different opinion. But wait, there’s more. I’m taking lessons and I’m “mandated” to play this barre chord with separate fingers on each of the D, G and B strings and only using the first finger to barre. I find every choice difficult.

Yes, there are a number of options. I can remove one of them: you should always mute the thick E string (unless you’re playing a specific slash chord that requires a note on that string, which would be hardly ever).

As for using pinky, ring and middle fingers to fret the B, G and D strings – yes, you occasionally see some players using that grip, but I would suggest spending the effort to learn to bar those 3 strings, either with ring finger or pinky.

I’m too new to advise any way to do anything. Just relaying that I have been advised to play A shape barre chords in six different ways. John strongly indicates that you almost never want to play the low 5th on the E string. I’ve been told just the opposite by others including the necessity of muting the 5th on the high E string instead. “Don’t ever let that high note ring out”. It might have something to do with session rhythm players when they’re playing with other instruments.

Regarding John’s other suggestion, I first learned to play these chords with my little finger because it was easier to use than my ring finger. I was then taught to switch to using ring finger only. Found this challenging with respect to being able to mute the high 5th. At any rate, the three finger technique was the hardest to learn, but seems to offer the most options. Watching videos with more awareness of this, I notice many people using this method.

As a new player, I would find it very helpful if people provided explanations when making recommendations to use one method over another. Not just for this, but for many things related to playing guitar.

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Justin has a brand new series of lessons on A-shape barre chords released from today.
It’s as if he knew.