Searching for help with the Am chord on the guitar? – you’ve found it, instructions below!
The Am chord (A minor) can be played in quite a few different ways on the guitar – well, lots actually. I will show you some of the usual ways of playing it, but I’m not going to show you every single way as there’s really no need for that and some of them are really hard to play.
There is no music theory here – I am going to focus on several common ways of playing the chord together with clear instructions on the finger positions. I’m going to show you these chords in guitar tab and then talk you through the suggested fingering of each chord.
I initially show you the open chord, then some of the more common barre chord versions and finish with a real treat of a chord that sounds awesome and is easy to play!
Sounds good? Here we go…
Open A Minor Chord
Chords are Called “open” when they use open strings (that means, you are not touching them with your fretting hand, but they still form part of the chord). This is the one used most on songs where strummed chords are used in certain keys.
Loads of songs start with this chord…
In tab form, this is what it looks like:
Just a reminder, when it has a “0” on the string, it means play it open (with no finger fretting on that string).
Here’s my suggestion on the fingering:
1st (index or pointer) finger on 1st fret of the B string;
3rd (ring) finger on 2nd fret of the G string;
2nd (middle) finger on the 2nd fret of the D string;
Leave the A and high E (thinnest) strings open – that is, don’t touch them with your fretting hand!
Now, strum these 5 strings (miss out the low (thickest) E string) – just strum/pick the A, D, G, B & high E (thinnest) strings.
There you go! The open A minor chord!
Try to get the fingers in just the right place so that each note of the chord rings out clear. To do this, pick each string individually while you are holding the chord and adjust finger positioning until it sounds good.
This is an important chord to learn, there are so many songs that start with it, here are just a few!
Parisienne walkways by Thin Lizzy/Gary Moore;
House of the rising sun by The Animals;
House of broken love by Great White;
Sandman by America.
4, 5 & 6 String A Minor Barre Chords
Let’s take a look at the various barre chords you can use for A minor. There are, of course, lots of different shapes you can use, but here I am going to focus on the versions that are most commonly used.
Easy (4-string) A Minor Barre Chord
So let’s start with an “easy” barre chord that only uses 4 strings. This is actually quite a good chord to know and, like all barre chords, is really useful as you can move it up and down the neck to get lots of different chords in various keys.
You only need to use two fingers for this barre chord!
Lay your 1st (index) finger flat across the D, G, B and (thinnest) E strings at the 5th fret;
Then, put your 3rd (ring) finger on the 7th fret of the D string.
Pick or strum the thinnest 4 strings – there you go, an A minor chord!
Actually, because we’re playing in the key of A, you can also play the open A string along with this one and it gives a really full sounding chord.
Note that fretting the D string with your index finger at the 5th fret isn’t strictly necessary as your 3rd finger is doing the work at the 7th fret. I just personally find this an easier hand position, but experiment for yourself and see whether it works better for you not to cover the D string with your index finger.
Easy 4 String Barre Chord #2
Here is a different 4-string barre chord, this time using your 4th (pinky) finger for the barre (or 3rd if that’s more comfortable).
Once you’ve got this one down, you can try changing between these two 4-string versions. That gives you a nice sound and means you’re not constantly strumming the same chord.
Once again, you’re able to play the open A string along with this version, try letting the A string ring open and change between this chord and the previous 4-string barre chord. Quite cool don’t you think?
To play this chord:
Use your 1st (pointer) finger to fret the 2nd fret of the D string;
Now, barre the G, B and (thinnest) E string at the 5th fret with your 4th (pinky) finger.
The thinnest 4 strings – the D, G, B and (thinnest) E strings are what you pick or strum here – but remember, in this case you can also include the open A string if you want.
This is probably a little harder to play as you are barring with a weaker finger. Many players use their 3rd (ring) finger for this, and in some respects that is a better fingering, but I personally find that an uncomfortable position.
There is no right or wrong with how you choose to finger this chord, so find which one is most suited to you and go with it!
5 String Barre Chord
This one is used a great deal for minor chords. It is a bit awkward here for an A minor chord as you can only play it at the 12th fret so the fingers get a bit squeezed.
Never-the-less, it’s a really good barre chord shape to know and you should get this one under your fingers if you can.
Here is the tab:
You fret this chord as follows:
Use your 1st (index) finger to barre the 5 strings – A, D, G, B and (thinnest) E strings at the 12th fret;
Put your 3rd (ring) finger on the 14th fret of the D string;
Your 4th (pinky) finger on the 14th fret of the G string alongside the 3rd finger;
Lastly, place your 2nd (middle) finger on the 13th fret of the B string – you kind of feel like you’re reaching under for this, but I assure you it is the correct fingering.
You can now strum the 5 strings – A, D, G, B and (thinnest) E strings and you have an A minor chord!
Have you noticed that the only notes the index finger is actually fretting are on the A and (thinnest) E strings? This means that to get a good sounding chord your 1st finger can be in any shape that is comfortable, but where it touches these two strings is the important bit.
6 String Barre Chord
Here is the big barre chord and probably the main one that is used for a full sounding chord, particularly when strumming.
I have written an article on troubleshooting the playing of barre chords if you are finding these tough, so have a look at that if you need to do so.
Whilst they seem really hard at first, with practice you will get it and then you’ll never look back.
And here is the suggested fingering for that chord:
Your first finger (index or pointer finger) forms the barre and needs to hold down all 6 strings at the 5th fret;
Use your 3rd (ring) finger at the 7th fret on the A string;
Finally, place your 4th (pinky) finger alongside your 3rd finger on the 7th fret of the D string.
Strum all 6 strings and you have the full sounding A minor barre chord.
To get this sounding good (every note clear), pick each string individually to check it has a good tone. You may need to adjust finger positions and pressure with your 1st finger which is doing a lot of work fretting the thickest and 3 thinnest strings.
Remember to check out my barre chord troubleshooting article for in depth advice if you want to see more.
Here’s The Treat I Promised
try this one out and see what you think!
Two fingers needed!
Place your 1st (index) finger at the 5th fret of the D string;
And now put your 2nd (middle) finger next to your 1st finger at the 5th fret of the G string.
That’s it! – strum 5 strings (just leave out the thickest E string) so that the A, B and (thinnest) E string are all ringing open…
What do you think to that, isn’t that an awesome chord?
It is an A minor chord, but (if you want to impress people) it is properly named an A minor 9th chord, but maybe you already knew that?
I just love this chord, so I wanted to throw that in here for you.
To Sum Up…
Now you know the open A minor chord together with 4, 5 & 6 string barre chords.
I have also shown you a really nice open sounding chord using only two fingers, the A minor 9th chord which is a chord I personally love!
Of course, there are many variations on this chord as well as other ways to play it, but I have demonstrated the common ways of playing it here for you.
Have fun playing the A minor chord on the guitar, and if you have any questions please do use the comments box and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.