I'm relatively new to guitar and have been learning on an electric (SG). I often practice acoustically (without an amp), and I'm having some trouble with the open A major chord.

My position for the A chord is shown below. I put the first finger in the middle as it's much easier for me not to accidentally mute the high e string.

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(I don't use the more "traditional" finger placement shown below)

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One of the hardest parts of learning this chord is that my 1st finger is forced to be further up the B string, causing it to buzz. To compensate, I have to move my fingers closer to the fret and press down a bit harder.

I'm wondering if this is expected and is part of the learning process, or if this fret buzz is likely due to poor guitar setup. Is fret buzz on the B string a typical experience when learning the A chord due to the 1st finger being further back?

  • I always play A with 2, 3, and 4 in my left hand. This is partly due to the chord being on the second fret, and in first position my main finger for the second fret is 2 instead of 1. Also, your little finger is smaller than your index finger (marginally) and reduces the risk of touching either the top E or the A string accidentally.
    – Aric
    Commented Aug 4, 2017 at 14:01

1 Answer 1


A common problem. There are several ways to finger this open chord, and it's useful to choose two different ways, depending what chord precedes, and what follows. My take with students is neither of those. Look at your fingers, and most likely, the middle, ring and pinky together are smaller than the combinations you show. They fit better into the small space. I also like students to put the index on st3, fret 1, as often, the next chord (or the previous) is E, when that index will be exactly there. Leaving it on is no detriment to the chord.

If you don't like that, stick with what you do, but plant really carefully! Sometimes, I play that chord with one finger over all three strings, or use two fingers to cover all three. Like I say, there are several, if not many, different fingerings - it's part off the development of a player to discover all of them, and then choose options. Like open D has 12 different fingerings. Go find!

It may be the set up, but as you already know, the closer to the wire you press, the clearer the sound, and also, less pressure is needed - always a good move if possible. Do not squeeze too hard with your thumb. Your brain thinks it's a good idea, but it really isn't!

  • Cool suggestion to use fingers 2-4 and put 1 on D fret1. I'll have to try that out!
    – Megatron
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 13:53
  • Count the strings from thin to thick - so 3 is actually G string.
    – Tim
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 14:40
  • Ah that's right - thnx
    – Megatron
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 14:41
  • Tried this out and is a great suggestion! Pretty intuitive and the buzzing goes away even with less finger pressure.
    – Megatron
    Commented Aug 4, 2017 at 14:03

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