One of my first guitar teachers told me in one of our first lessons that the key of A Major was the musical key of rock music. There is no doubt that the A Major chord was a staple in early 1970s and 80s rock as well as in today’s music.
There are two generally accepted ways to play an A Major chord, each with their own pros and cons. Both are outlined in this lesson.
Time: This lesson will take 5 to 10 minutes to complete
Materials: A guitar
The first method, and the ‘proper’ method according to most guitar enthusiasts, it use the index, middle and ring finger. The index finger is placed on the second fret on the D string while the middle finger is placed below the index on the second fret. The ring finger completes the chord formation by being placed below the middle finger on the second fret of the B string. The A string and high E strong are played open. A chord chart and photo of the finger placement are shown below. If you need a refresher on how to read a chord chart, check out this guitar lesson before moving on.
A Major chord chart
A Major chord formation on guitar
The second way to play the A major chord is to bar the D, G and B strings with your index finger on the second fret. This is a completely acceptable way to play the A Major chord. This formation allows for faster chord switches to power chords, but it is virtually impossible to use this form and still be able to play the high E string open, it is almost always muted.
A Major barred
As you get comfortable playing the chord, you can use whichever method works best for you. You can even switch between the two methods, depending on the song.
There are lots of songs out there, from easy to very complex, that use the A Major chord. One example is Doll Parts by Hole, which is a pretty simple song to learn that starts with an A Major chord before moving into variations of the C Major and G Major chords.