Open Position Chords: A Position

Hopefully you’ve gotten familiar with the open C position chords, so let’s move on to the A position. Here’s a standard A major chord:

AA Major

It can be tricky to “bunch” your last 3 fingers up like that, and it takes a bit of practice to do it so that the open high E string still rings out. It will be tempting to just use your 1st finger to barre it — and that works — but you’ll lose the depth and texture of the open E doing that. Once we get into various types of barre chords, we’ll be asking our fingers to do many things that they’re not used to, or are not comfortable at first. All I can say is that I guarantee you that persistence and patience will pay off.

This formation lends itself well to the minor chord form. Here’s the A minor:

AmA Minor

As you’ll see when we cover barre chords, this form is the basis for the movable minor barre formation. Your index finger will be used to barre across the five strings from A to high E. In the open formation it’s easier to use the fingering as indicated above, to facilitate switching from one chord to the next. But it would also be useful to practice the formation using fingers 2-3-4 in place of 1-2-3, respectively.

The dominant 7th chord is a simple one to master in the A open position:


This is yet another movable formation, where your index finger will take the place of the nut, and barre all the way up the neck. But in open position, many people prefer to use the 3rd finger in place of the 4th on the B string. It doesn’t hurt to learn it both of those ways. Also, to turn this chord into a major 7th (M7), it’s very simple — just tuck the 1st or (preferably) 3rd finger in and fret the G# note at the 1st fret on the G string.


The above is the simpler “open position” fingering, and below is the way to play the AM7 in a barre formation:

AM7(alt.) AM7(alt.)

To finish off the A position, if we go back to the A minor form, and drop the 3rd finger (A note, 2nd fret G string), we get the A minor 7th (m7) chord:

Aminor7 Aminor7(alt.)

The above formation is also the movable barre version, but for open position, you may find it simpler to use the 1-2 fingers in place of the 2-3:


Most of these A chords fall under the fingers fairly easily, especially compared with the C and G forms. Going in order through the five CAGED forms, we’ll be covering the open G position next post. Stay tuned!

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