Whether you’re a beginner to learning the guitar or a bit more advanced, you must add the A minor chord to your repertoire if you ever want to really become a complete guitarist. Many of these easy guitar chords are essentials for every guitar player, and the Am chord is no different!
“But I’ve already learned the A chord!”
Unless you’ve specifically learned the flattened 3rd degree of the major scale for the A chord, then you’ve learned something entirely different sounding than A minor (commonly referred to as the Am guitar chord). It’s easy to add onto the first A chord you learned, so just follow this step-by-step instruction and you’ll have the A chord mastered from top to bottom.
Playing A Minor: Step-By-Step
- Place your index (first) finger on the first fret of the second string.
- Place your middle (second) finger on the second fret of the fourth string.
- Then place your third finger on the second fret of the third string.
- Strum the first five strings (string one and five played open). Do not play the sixth string.
Harder chord to try: The F major chord
Why You Don’t Play the Sixth String
In short, you’re looking to play a very specific sound when you play certain guitar notes and chords. This is why we tune the guitar properly before every session and ensure we repetitively practice chords and songs over and over again. We’re looking to create consistency in the noise that we’re playing.
If you play the sixth string then you’re going against what A minor is supposed to sound like. While you can get into all sorts of music theory discussions, just know that, as a beginner, you should focus on doing everything to the letter of the law on the guitar.
While I know you may want to rock out and just freestyle on your guitar, know that you’re not going to pick up the guitar and be the next Jimi Hendrix within the first few months of playing – and you won’t sound nearly as good as solos you’ve heard in legendary rock operas that you drunkenly stumble through at Karaoke night when you decide to just start shredding.
When we play A minor, we’re looking for the lowest note to be the A string, if we play the sixth string, then that string would be what we called the root, which we don’t want to play Am properly.
Learn the basics and master them in order to become a good guitarist. Then you can get a bit more creative!
Try next: The D chord on guitar
How to Practice Am
You’ll find that simply placing your fingers on the correct strings, playing the chord in rhythm for four beats on, taking your fingers off for four beats, and then placing your fingers back on for four beats and playing again will do wonders for developing muscle memory for the chord. This will also really help your overall rhythm with guitar and help you properly gauge pressure to apply to each string.
It’s also recommended you start moving back and forth between Am and some other chords. It’s common for the C and G chords to be played with A minor, so I’d recommend starting there. Play one chord for four beats on, take one beat off, then quickly place your fingers on the other chord and play for four beats. Do this over and over again and you’ll really start to master these chords.
More Chords to Practice: