Hey guitar explorers, are you ready to learn one of the most basic chords at the top of the fretboard? Yes rowdy rock stars, it is the A chord. Let’s rock it!

The key of A, with the A major chord as the beating heart, has produced many beautiful tracks. How about “Blitzkrieg Bop” by the Ramones, or “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley. 

We also have articles about the E, Em and Am chord – just for you to know.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Step 1 – Tune your guitar

First things first. Step one in learning to play any song or chord is tuning your guitar. For this you can use a tuner, or an application for your phone like KARANG. For this article, you should tune your guitar to standard tuning.

Step 2 – Observe the A chord diagram

What does an A chord actually look like? 

Here is the A chord diagram [focused attention].

In case something looks unfamiliar, check our article on how to read guitar chord diagrams

Step 3 – Place your fingers on the fretboard

The fingers of your left hand you should use to play the A chord are indicated by the numbers in the colored circles.

A chord guitar fingers needed
Figure 2 – Left hand with finger indications

The time has come for you to pick up your guitar and get ready to rumble [excitement in the crowd].

Put your index finger on the second fret of the fourth (D) string. Does it match the diagram above? Nice, now put your middle finger on the second fret of the third (G) string. Then place your ring finger on the second fret of the second (B) string.

Press those strings down hard. Are all your fingers in the right place? Then hit it [roaring sounds]!

Lovely, isn’t it, the sound of A major?

Basic arpeggios and strumming patterns for the right hand

Now you can add another great chord to your chord vocabulary. Congratulations! But what about the right hand? 

It is important to know which strings we can pluck or strum. These two examples will help you to start playing the A chord properly. 


An arpeggio is the technique of playing notes from a chord one after another. Arpeggios are most common for lyrical songs. We start with the root note of the chord, which is usually located on one of the bass strings.

For the A chord arpeggio we play these four strings in sequence: 5th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st. See the charts and tablature below – remember that the thickest string is the bottom line in the tablature. 

We’ve Chordified this video for you, so you can jam along and play an A chord with us.


Strumming is common for more dynamic songs. As with arpeggios, we should start with the root note and avoid playing muted strings (strings marked with an X symbol in the chord diagram). Therefore we will play five strings, starting with the 5th (A) string.

We’ll alternately play downstrokes and upstrokes. “Downstroke” – arrows facing up –  means strumming from the 5th string to the 1st thinnest string (the top line in the tablature), and “upstroke” – arrows facing down –  means the other way around.

We’ve also Chordified this video for you, so you can jam along and play an A chord with us.

List of songs for practicing playing an A chord

Let’s start playing an A chord with real songs! Here is a list of songs containing an A chord:

Bob Marley – Three little birds

Imagine Dragons – Yesterday

Blanco Brown – The Git Up

Billy Walker – Charlie’s Shoes

Happy Jamming!

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