Learning guitar chords is fundamental to your guitar-playing journey, and one of those key chords is A# major. Like other chords, there are several different ways to play it, and you’ll be able to progress from the easiest methods of playing it to more challenging ways as you continue practicing.
The Challenge in Learning the A# Chord on Guitar
If you have a rudimentary knowledge of music, you might be wondering why we’re discussing how to play an A-sharp chord instead of a B-flat chord. They’re enharmonic, which means they’re two different names for the same note.
The A# major chord uses the notes A# (or Bb), Cx (double sharp, or D), and E# (or F).
The primary challenge in learning the A# chord is that the two most common ways to play it use barres. If you’re a beginner and consistently have trouble with your barres, don’t fret because there are many ways to learn a solid-sounding barre chord, regardless of which it is.
Another thing that might help you understand how to play this chord is that the two barre shapes are based on the shapes of two other chords you may already know: The A major chord and the E major chord.
If you’ve already learned how to play both of those chords, you shouldn’t have much trouble learning to play the A-sharp chord. If not, we have some tips and tricks to help you along.
How to Play the A Sharp Major Chord
We’ll start with the fingering for the A-shape barre chord:
- Make a barre at the 1st fret from the fifth (A) string to the first (E) string with your index finger
- Middle finger: fourth (D) string on the third fret
- Ring finger: third (G) string on the third fret
- Pinky finger: second (B) string on the third fret
- Strum downward from the A string
There’s also the E-shape barre chord:
- Make a barre at the 6th fret with your index finger across all six strings
- Middle finger: third (G) string at the 7th fret
- Ring finger: fifth (A) string at the 8th fret
- Pinky finger: fourth (D) string at the 8th fret
- Strum downward, playing all six strings
Try similar barres next: G sharp major on guitar
Other Ways to Play It
What if you’re not ready to play the A-sharp chord as a barre chord? Here are some other ways to play it that will help you incorporate the chord into your repertoire while you’re working on the barre chords.
- Index finger: sixth (E) string on the first fret
- Middle finger: fifth (A) string on the first fret
- Play the E, A, and D (fourth) strings simultaneously
- Index finger: first (high E) string at the 1st fret
- Middle finger: third (G) string at the 3rd fret
- Ring finger: second (B) string at the 3rd fret
- Strum downward from the G string
When you’re comfortable with these and the barre shapes, you can move on to more complicated ways to play the A-sharp major chord.
Up next: The d flat major chord
Why Learn All These Different Ways to Play One Chord?
You might have noticed by now that there are many ways to play every guitar chord there is. Why is that?
It’s not just because some ways to play it are easier and more comfortable than others, allowing you to learn how the chord sounds and how to move your fingers as you go from easier to more complicated fingerings. Two words explain all of it: Variety and versatility.
As you learn new ways to play each chord, your skills and abilities grow, and you can play more complex music. You can also get more creative in your playing, and that’s something to look forward to.
Finally, while arrangers do their best to put optimal fingering patterns in your music, there are times that they won’t work for you for whatever reason. The more shapes you know for each chord, the easier it is to figure something out that does work for you.
Moving to and from A Sharp
If you’re playing a song in the key of A-sharp, you’ll probably move between A-sharp, D-sharp, and E-sharp quite a bit. A-sharp is the first note of the scale, D-sharp is the fourth, and E-sharp is the fifth.
Moving from the first chord to the fourth and then to the fifth is one of the most common chord progressions in music, and you’ll find it in every key, major and minor.
Once you’ve gotten comfortable playing the A-sharp chord on your guitar, then, if you’ve learned D-sharp and E-sharp as well, you can practice moving between these three chords. You’ll not only learn how that chord progression sounds, but you’ll increase your comfort level with moving between different chords.
Tips and Tricks for Beginners Learning Barre Chords
Since the A-sharp chord involves a barre, then regardless of whether you choose to learn the E-shape or the A-shape first, you should practice playing barres to ensure you can play this and other barre chords with a clean sound.
Start by working on the barre position by itself. When you place your index finger on the strings, try rolling it back slightly so you’re off the fleshiest part of your finger. That makes it easier to get a clean-sounding barre.
Make sure your finger is closer to the actual fret on which you’re playing. That helps prevent that annoying buzz you might be getting right now.
The best way to get a good barre is to make your thumb and index finger into a sort of clamp so they’re in the same place on the neck. That way, you get the strength and leverage you need for a clean-sounding barre.
Also, try keeping your wrist in a neutral position and your elbow close to your body. That will help you develop and maintain a good position. Remember, everything you can do to ensure your hands, wrists, and arms stay as relaxed as possible will help you play better.
To get comfortable with the barre-shaped A-sharp chords, practice your barres by themselves. Start at the first fret, clamp your index finger and thumb together, and then strum and see how it sounds. If you have a buzz or it otherwise sounds wrong, adjust until it sounds right, and then let go and try again.
The point is to teach yourself how to play a clean barre the first time. This will probably take some time, but don’t get discouraged. As with everything, the more you practice, the better you get.
Once you’re doing well at the first fret, start moving up your guitar’s neck, just playing barres. That will help you get comfortable with the feeling of moving between barre chords.
Also, while you’re working on this, stay mindful of your wrist and elbow positions. If you notice you’re putting too much of a kink in your wrist or your elbow is floating away from your body, slow down, reposition yourself, and keep working.
Make this part of your warm-up, at least until you’re comfortable with playing a good barre. Then incorporate it into your chords and practice those.
This, too, will take time to get right, but patience is vital when you’re learning to play any musical instrument correctly. You’ll get it, and you’ll feel wonderful when you do.
Songs That Use the A# Major Chord
Whether a composer uses A-sharp or B-flat depends entirely on what they’re trying to accomplish. Either way, the A# chord manages to sound both carefree and slightly troubled at the same time. Here are some songs that use the A-sharp or B-flat major chord:
- Irreplaceable by Beyonce
- Can You Feel The Love Tonight? by Elton John
- Do I Wanna Know? by the Arctic Monkeys
- I Can’t Make You Love Me by Bonnie Raitt
- Glad You Came by The Wanted
- If You Have to Ask by Red Hot Chili Peppers
- Ballin’ by Santana
- You Keep Me Hangin’ On by Kim Wilde
- Mysterious Ways by U2
- Goodnight Saigon by Billy Joel
- Dance of Death by Calexico
- Swine by Lady Gaga
The A-sharp chord may be complex, but it’s well within your reach, especially as your experience with barres and other chords grows.
Try more chords:
As the Head Editor at Music Grotto, Liam edits content produced from over 30 professional music/media journalists and contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.