Fingering Versions for Open A Major Chord

If you've been playing guitar for a while you've probably noticed that the A Major shape when shown in a chord box has a few fingering variations. If you're just learning to play guitar then it's something you're sure to come across. Obviously, the logical questions are which fingering to use and why?

 A Major chord on guitar

Let's start with the why. Actually, it's probably not the easiest question to answer and there could be a whole lot of reasons. Version 2 seems a simple version. Use your first three fingers in order. It's easy to remember a simple structure like that, and if you have smaller hands, lets say a younger person starting to learn guitar, or a girl (who generally have smaller hands than men) this is probably a good starting option.

Version 3 might not make a lot of sense initially, but it does make a lot of sense when swapping from your A Major to either an E Major or D Major. The reason is when swapping between the version 3 A Major chord and a D Major chord you don't have to lift up your first finger. When swapping from the A Major (ver 3) to an open E chord it's almost as easy. As you raise your second and third finger in preparation of building your E chord all you have to do is slide your first finger back a fret. Again, it's quite a practical move.

When all is said and done, however, the first version is probably the best to use. The challenges for a beginner guitarist are that your hand and finger strength may not be strong enough to hold this chord, plus you need to develop the skill to bend your finger backwards to allow the high open E note to ring out. But, here's a tip if you never manage to get that open E note to ring out it doesn't matter very much - just make sure its well muted. That's a technique you'll develop. Guitarists as diverse as Richards, Frusciante, and Van Halen all apply these techniques.

So, what are the advantages of version 1? When you've barred your chord like this is becomes a movable shape that you can move up and down the fretboard quite easily. You can also begin embellishing this chord by adding combinations of other fingers. You can get some great sounds doing that. Add both those concepts together and you'll be able to come up with some super cool musical ideas on your guitar.

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