How To Play The A Chord

Here's an easier way of playing the A Chord - an essential grip for any guitar player!

View the full lesson at How To Play The A Chord | JustinGuitar

How about playing the A chord with two fingers (second and third)? The idea was to minimize muting the A and high E strings with large fingers.

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Welcome to the Community @jonesdch

Stick with the course and you’ll see why Justin teaches A the way he does. It’s all about using your first finger as an ‘anchor’ when you change to/from/ A, D and E.

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Hi @jonesdch Justin has decades of teaching experience and hundreds of in-person students plus countless thousands of online students who can testify to the effectiveness of his teaching. He is not holding back any secret better way. He is teaching the best way from the start. Stick with the programme. Cheers :blush:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide & Moderator

I am pretty new, just a few days old with this group. I’m having a great time in Grade 1. I have a question, and not sure where or how to post, so maybe someone could guide me.
I’m 71 and learned when in grade school, but have only picked up occasionally over the years.
I learned to play A chord with three fingers across. 123. I’ve been practicing the new way, and am struggling. Of course I’m hardly a week in, so perhaps should not give up so soon. I"m ok at the practice level, but when I try the songs, with beat, pick, and new A, and learning to hold the guitar a bit differently, I’m am not doing well.
Question is: Should I continue to try the new A or just go with the way I’ve played all my life?
And next, is this the correct place to post a question of Grade 1?
Thanks in advance.

Well that’s what it says at the top of the page so guess you’re in the right place Maidie.
As for the A chord if you can play songs with the old 123 why not have some fun BUT
I would recommend you work at learning that new fingering, it will make chord changes easier in the next few lessons but no need to go into that now. You are only a week in, so give it some time and practice and I am sure you’ll get there. In the mean time play songs have fun :sunglasses:

I have practiced both ways. I find myself using both fingerings depending on the particular chord progressions in a song. For instance, if a song has a change from Em to A I usually use 123 because it is so simple to just drop fingers 1 and 2 down a string and put 3 down on the 2nd string. The same song might also have D to A, and for that I would keep the anchor finger from D and end up using the213 flavor.

On a good day my fingers just pick the “right” one without conscious thought. On a bad day I get crossed up. Sadly either way I do it, I have to really pay attention to avoid having a muted or buzzy string in the middle. Much worse for me when I try to play my electric.

Thanks Madman and Dave,

I was hoping to be able to slip back and forth too. But I’ll continue to practice the “new” A! I’ll see how it goes organic, and let you know.

I had problem with the 213 fingering, my index finger feels pain in the first knuckle, maybe due to the little twist of the finger. So I had to change to the old 123 fingering. I remember Justin says in many occasions, that fingering is a personal choice.

I cannot get my fat fingers to not mute the next cord. I tried repositioning them but I find it almost impossible especially if I am playing it with other notes.

Anthony do you mean you can’t get you fingers to not touch the next STRING (rather than chord)? The only string that isn’t played for the A Chord is the 6th. I am guessing that you are finding you are muting the 5th (A) and 1st (High E) strings? If that’s the case try arching your fingers a little more and also angling them slightly more…they don’t have to sit in straight line across the strings and indeed depending on how you hold you wrist will be slightly angled anyway. Remember use your thumb on the back of the guitar neck to support and get the angle right. A lot of the early lessons do require quite a bit if practice just to get things right…it’ll speed up as you progress.

What ? I’m the only one doing the 234 thing, sheesh.
However, despite my handicap am slowly getting the 213 worked in
for some chord progressions…

I have been playing the A-chord 123 for years I love the idea of doing 213 and will now have to train my fingers again but worth it as I have some damaged knuckle joint in F2 and I am sure I will end up playing the A chord better now - plus for beginners I can see how the positioning will help with chord changes. Wish I had been taught this as a youngster but had been led to believe I wasn’t doing it correctly unless in 123 position.

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HI Jase

Welcome to the forum, have fun getting the new fingering down. My early days followed by the stop start years where either 123 or even 234 as suggested in pre internet material. So 213 was alien to me when I restarted but it soon became the norm.

How about saying hi to folks and sharing your back story ?



Spent about 20 minutes trying to get this one down and was really struggling with my ring finger constantly muting the high E string. Found that I was so tense that my palm was slammed against the neck of the guitar, and once I loosened up a bit and gave the neck a little more space, the finger placement came a little more naturally. Saw others were having the same problem as me so thought it was worth a shout out.


Welcome AOS! Yeah being relaxed helps a lot , tough to do when you are struggling with your first chords…

I’m certainly having issues wiht where my thumb naturally sits on the back of the fret causing my palm to mute the E on Justins A fingering, practice practice practice!

If I want to mute the low E with the tip of my thumb, and I do because I’m definitely gonna hit that low E every time while strumming A, I have to use 2 - 3 - 4 fingers or the base of my first finger will mute the high E string. No matter how I relax, or contort. 1 - 2 - 3 gives me a bit more room, but I still buzz out high E too often with that fingering. I can play the 2 - 1 - 3 finger method with thicker necks which space my hand out a bit better - and I’m discovering I have a preference for thicker neck guitars. The sad part is it has taken me two years of playing A with the high E muted or buzzing! This is because I was slow to look this up as a problem and also because I didn’t want to deviate from Justin’s advice thinking eventually one day I’d get my hand in the right position. I’d say two years of trying is a fair amount. With the right neck it’s the preferred way for sure, but I just can’t with the thinner necks I’ve tried.

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Y’all must have much smaller fingers than I do. I can just barely get three fingers in that fret and only when I do 1-2-3. Suppose I could keep trying to practice 2-1-3 if it is really really going to help in the long run. How does Justin get his ring finger under the middle finger like that? It seems as though one needs to be double jointed or something.

I can use Justins method of 213 but my index finger is pretty much 3/4 of the way back to the next fret. It’s tough but it works, even though i just have to press really hard with 1. I do not speak from any area of expertise as this is only the second day I’ve ever had a guitar in my hand

More support for my question about the A cord and does one need to be double jointed to play it the way Justin does (which is my only choice cause I can’t fit three fingers within the same fret). In the video at 0:40 you can see Justin’s ring finger on the second string. The last joint on his finger is not only bent down but it it is bent to the right as well. My ring finger does not bend that way. It only bends down. Actually all my fingers only bend down, not to either side.
This is why I was asking if one needs to be double jointed or whatever its called when your finger bends not only up and down but side to side at that last joint. I can only get my ring finger in that position if I use my other hand to manually adjust it - It won’t curve toward the middle finger by itself. Anyone experience the same issue and came up with a workaround? Bummin’ right now because this seems like a show stopper to me. :anguished: