You can learn how to play the open position A chord and CAGED A shape!
In the video lesson above, I talk about the A chord and how it becomes an A shape. This is followed by discussing how we can extend the chord and even turn it into a Major Pentatonic, two different arpeggios, and all major modes.
Let’s start with just playing it as an open position chord because this is where the problems begin.
Theoretically, you should play this using all five strings. However, this is kind of impossible, especially as a chord shape. How do you actually fret this chord shape?
Don’t let the sadistic beginner teacher or your own ideals beat you down. The truth about the A chord is that you can’t really play it as it looks in a chord box, or in the Chordacus image you see here above.
It takes too long to fret the full shape, so let’s ignore the top string. Now all of a sudden, it’s super easy!
Here are all ways you actually can play an A chord.
- Strings 3-5, this a 5 chord, there is no 3rd.
- Strings 2-5, this is a full A chord, there is a 3rd on string 2.
- Strings 2-4, this also a complete chord, we have the 5th, root, and 3rd. This is what we’d call the 2nd inversion on a piano. On the guitar, we just call it an A shape.
- Strings 1-3, this is also still a complete chord as we have root, 3rd, and 5th. On a piano we call this root position.
To learn how to actually play the A chord, not just fret it, you need songs that actually use it. Without this real-world experience, all this knowledge is just theoretical, to play guitar is a practical journey, not an academic one.
Learn all these songs and you will have no problem playing the A chord in the open position, as well as a CAGED shape.
A chord extensions
Below are all possible extensions using an A-shaped chord. If you can see the intervals surrounding the A shape, you can play all these chords.
- A major chord (root, 5th, root, 3rd, 5th)
- Asus2 (root, 5, root, 2)
- Aadd9 (root, 5, 9, 3)
- Asus4 (root, 5, root, 4)
- A7sus4 (root, 5, b7, 4)
- A6 (root, 5, root, 3, 6)
- Amaj7 (root, 5, 7, 3, 5)
- A7 (root, 5, b7, 3, 5)
- Amaj9 (root, 3, 7, 9)
- A7#9 (root, 3, b7, #9)
- A11 (root, 4, b7, 2)
- A13 (root, 5, b7, 3, 6)
You need actual songs that have these chords in them in order to play and experience these sounds in context. Without this, you simply won’t learn them properly. Sign up for the guitar courses for this experience.
Building scales and arpeggios around the A chord/shape
If you can see all intervals around the chord shape, you can play all these arpeggios and scales.
Learn how to build minor and major guitar chords using the CAGED system.
This is the foundation upon which we learn to extend chords and build arpeggios and modes as well.
Go to Guitar chords.