Tips & Techniques

Playing A-major with big fingers or a small fretboard

Lesson #194

Video Overview

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Editor’s notes

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 β€œnormal” 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 β€œtriangle” 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

Good luck!

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!

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