Basic A String Barre Chords

Yesterday, we looked at forming basic major and minor Barre chords with roots on the E string. Today, we’ll do the same on the A string.

“A Major” Shape

We can create a moveable chord by first taking an A major chord, and then rearranging our fingers to free up our first finger, allowing it to stretch across the fretboard and change our root note.

First, take an A major chord—depending on how you play it, you might use fingers one, two and three on the second fret on the D, G and B strings, or you might simply use your first finger to cover those same notes. Either way, to make this into a moveable chord, you need to free up your first finger.

The two most common approaches are to replace fingers one, two and three with fingers two, three and four if you play A major the first way I described it, or to replace your first finger with your third if you are “barring” the chord with your first finger in root position.

From there, you can slide the chord shape to different positions on the neck, using your first finger to play the root on the A string (replacing the nut in root position). With a little practice, you will be able to play any major chord with a root on the A string. For example, moving this chord shape up three half steps (your first finger moving to the 3rd fret, or C) will give you a C major chord. Test this by comparing C major in root position with this new chord shape. Pretty cool!

“A Minor” Shape

If we repeat the same steps as above with an A minor chord, we can similarly create a moveable Barre chord out of this chord shape. Replace fingers one, two and three with fingers two, three and four in your root position A minor chord, freeing up your first finger. Then, start moving this A minor chord shape up the neck, using your first finger to stretch across the neck, effectively replacing the nut—or, perhaps it is simpler to think of your first finger as a mobile capo.

This will give you any minor chord with a root on the A string. The note your first finger is pressing down on the A string becomes your new root; for example, if we move our first finger up to the 7th fret on the A string, we will have reached E, meaning this A minor shape Barre chord has moved up and turned into an E minor chord. Again, compare this with your root position E minor chord and you should hear the similarities.

That’s all for now. Take some time to practice these chord shapes—you should now know at least two different ways to play any major or minor chord. Rock on!