I am currently learning how to play guitar. I haven't found a proper guitar teacher yet due to the current lockdown situation, so I have to learn from YouTube videos and other online exercises. Therefore, I never learned how to properly hold my hand when playing and I basically just copy what I see.

So I was trying to learn a new song, and I just don't seem to get how I am supposed to hold my fingers to play this rather basic chord:


I tried my index finger on the third fret of the A string, but then neither my ring finger nor my pinky fit comfortably on the fifth fret on the higher strings. I cramp up quite easily when I try to force them into position and feel like there is something really basic I just don't see.

What am I doing wrong? How am I meant to play this?

  • I have to comment to suggest Zoom lessons. While it's in no way as good as in-person, it's still much better than learning from a video that can't interact with you. My daughter took a year of piano lessons from a teacher in another country, and she was exactly the right teacher for her. Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 16:35
  • @AndyBonner - Whatsapp has worked well for me over the past year or so, especially when we set up the phones so they point to exactly where they're needed !
    – Tim
    Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 7:48

1 Answer 1


Most would play it as a 'power chord', using index on the A string, and ring and pinky on the other two. It's only like a basic barre E shape , but moved over to the next strings.

If that doesn't work for you, then try index on A string, and ring flattened over the other higher strings. It does look strange, to a beginner, but a lot of us will use that as a basis for a barre A shape chord anyway. The fact that other strings are fretted ? So what, they don't get played anyway! That A string can use either a fingertip, or more usually, the pad, as if barring the lot, or just 5 strings.

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    Aside from the idea that many times tabs are just wrong, the OP should start to look for "efficiencies" in the tabs. Many times the tabs look difficult but its is really just (for example) an arpeggiated C followed by an arpeggiated D. If a fully-formed chord is a "block," then look for "blocking" in the tabs and then the basics can fall into place. Knowing the open chord forms (and the barred versions) helps in identifying these so-called "blocks." As Tim pointed out, these are barre chords, but look to be the A-barre (or Barre-A) form. Drop D tuning
    – Yorik
    Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 18:34
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    @Yorik - I wanted to avoid my probably well-known dislike of tab! Maybe I should have included something to the effect of 'don't consider it the Holy Grail'. Finding alternative positions other than the printed tab has long been a sport for my students...
    – Tim
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 8:15
  • @Tim Thank you for the suggestion. I have been trying to do this as much as possible when transcribing music from "standard" notation to tabs myself, as tabulature helps me learn how to play a song. I've been trying to minimize hand movement, but I still lack the experience to make good judgements on what "makes sense" and what doesn't. Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 21:03

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