Tips & Techniques
Playing A-major with big fingers or a small fretboard
Print-friendly chord sheet available for Patreon supporters
- Get the PDF here -- after clicking and logging in to Patreon, look for the file attached to the bottom of the post.
Supporting me on Patreon gives you access to the PDF for this as well as 150+ other lessons. One month minimum ($3, cancel anytime) gets you access to everything... here's a free sample. Thanks for supporting me and this project!
Ever have trouble getting your fingers crammed together to play the A-major chord? You’re not alone! Here’s a simple technique you can use - where a simple tweak of your finger position can create a lot more breathing room for all of your fingers. Not only does this make the chord easier to switch to, but it actually makes certain common transitions (do D-major and E-major) easier than they were before.
The “normal” way to play A-major
Usually, A-major is taught (and played) like this. Three fingers in a row, all on the 2nd fret. This may well be good enough for you – especially if your fingers aren’t huge, or if you’re playing on a large enough guitar.
However, a challenge with this finger positioning is things can get crammed when your fingers are in a straight line like this. For me, I have very little wiggle room - it’s quite frankly not comfortable. Luckily, there is another way…
The “triangle” way to play A-major
Here, we’re playing the same notes - but we’re using our left-hand fingers in a different way. Notice how the index finger is in the middle of the 3 notes, instead of on the far side. This creates a triangle shape, which actually allows for much more wiggle room around each finger. The result is a chord that’s quicker to switch to and more comfortable to play.
Easy transitions between A, D, and E
A straight-up benefit for playing A-major in this manner, is your index finger will be on the same string that it’s used on the D-major and E-major chord - both of which are very frequently played along with the A-major chord. See my video for reference - switching between these three chords is a breeze when your index finger doesn’t have to ever change strings.
E –––0––––2––––0–––– B –––2––––3––––0–––– G –––2––––2––––1–––– <== left index finger is used on this D –––2––––0––––2–––– string for all 3 chords (good!) A –––0–––––––––2–––– E –––––––––––––0–––– A D E
You can still play Asus2 and Asus4
Finally, a nice benefit of this chord voicing is that you can still play the common Asus2 and Asus4 chords just as you did before. Meaning, you’re using your left-hand pinky for the Asus4’s 3rd fret note - which feels 100% natural.
E –––0––––––0––––––0––––– B –––2––––––3––––––0––––– G –––2––––––2––––––2––––– D –––2––––––2––––––2––––– A –––0––––––0––––––0––––– E ––––––––––––––––––––––– A Asus4 Asus2
I hope this was helpful for you. As always, it’s best to see my video lesson for reference. Please let me know what questions you have, and until next time - best of luck!
Enjoy my lessons? Buy me a beer!
If this and my other lessons have proven helpful to you, please consider making a one-time donation to my tip jar. Contributions of any amount help make this project possible (including the many, many hours I put into it).
Subscribe to my YouTube channel
Be sure to never miss a lesson by subscribing on YouTube. I put out 2-3 new videos every week. These include full song lessons, as well as covers, practice tips, behind-the-scenes updates. Thanks!
Recent video lessons:
📝 Print-friendly PDFs now available for all new lessons I make, including all those listed below. Get a free sample »
- Sedona by Houndmouth
Aug 9, 2020 • Lesson #313
- 3 ways to strum without a pick
Aug 8, 2020 • Lesson #317
- Summertime by Billy Strings / Doc Watson
Aug 1, 2020 • Lesson #279
- Riffs with Circular Bass Lines
July 25, 2020 • Lesson #314
- Happy Birthday triad exercise (Key of G)
July 23, 2020 • Lesson #312
- 3 ways to silence strings with your left hand
July 18, 2020 • Lesson #311
- Keep the Wolves Away by Uncle Lucius
July 10, 2020 • Lesson #310
- Will You Love Me Tomorrow by The Shirelles / Carole King
July 4, 2020 • Lesson #309
- Stand By Me by Ben E. King
June 28, 2020 • Lesson #308
- Mr. Bojangles by Jerry Jeff Walker
June 21, 2020 • Lesson #307
- Willin' by Little Feat
June 13, 2020 • Lesson #306
- My Church by Maren Morris
June 7, 2020 • Lesson #305
- Pull-off Exercise (Key of C)
June 6, 2020 • Lesson #304