I can play an A chord okay, as seen here:

enter image description here

However, I tried putting a capo on the 10th fret and playing it from there and couldn't do it at all. I have thin fingers and it was still impossible to achieve the fingering seen above on the 12th fret. There wasn't space for all three fingers in such a tiny area without one finger being pushed onto the next fret.

How is it done?

  • Capo at the 10th fret? Hmmm. Well, just barre your first finger across all three strings.
    – ex nihilo
    Aug 14 '19 at 4:26
  • But then aren't I covering the first string too? Aug 14 '19 at 4:49
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    @Tim His beginner's course starts with learning A, E and D, then practicing to switch between them quickly, and then you get to play some songs that use only A, E and D. It's designed to quickly give you the satisfaction of being able to play a song. The "index finger stays on the G string as a guide" idea works quite well at that stage. Later on, you may have reasons to play it differently. Aug 14 '19 at 5:46
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    To get back to the topic, playing with a capo on the 10th fret would be quite unusual. I wouldn't worry about not being able to play open chords that high. Leave that part of the neck for when you practice barre chords. Aug 14 '19 at 5:49
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    @YourUncleBob - that's pretty well what I've done with beginners for 50 yrs. Never understood why C has to be a 'good' start point. Still not convinced that index finger on 3rd string helps a change between A and D, or vice versa, though. And I'm with you on capoing 10th fret.
    – Tim
    Aug 14 '19 at 5:49

The frets get very close together after the 10th fret so there is no way I would be able to use 3 fingers to play the open A chord as shown in your diagram. What I would do is use my middle finger (between index and ring finger) to "barre" the 3 strings and bend my finger up to avoid contact with the high e string. This is what I do when playing an A Shaped Barre chord except then I use my ring finger.

Below is a picture of me playing an open A with capo on tenth fret with one finger. It might be hard to see in the picture but I am bending my finger to avoid the first string.

1 Finger A Chord

  • Thanks! I tried this previously, not knowing if it was normal or not, and it was quite difficult to press down sufficiently hard on all three with the pad of one finger. Takes practice I guess. Aug 14 '19 at 18:12
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    @temporary_user_name if you're using your index finger, sometimes you might find that pressing down on your index finger with your middle finger gives it a little extra help. Oh, and hi Rockin Cowboy - haven't seen you here for a while!
    – topo morto
    Aug 15 '19 at 7:09
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    @topomorto plus one on your comment, I would have said the same thing. I have been too busy with my day job to do much with music for past 3 years so I'm laying low in the music world. I get guitar questions in my email and every now and then I take a look at questions that I think I might have some unique insight on. You could say I am like a voyeur - keeping an eye on the feed but not participating much due to time constraints. Aug 15 '19 at 20:25

To be honest, the fingering you have pictured is the way I'd do it - with the index finger pulled back behind the other two, so that you aren't trying to get any two fingers exactly side-by-side:

A fingering

On really high frets though, I probably would just be just laying my finger across all the strings, as David Bowling suggests & as shown in Rockin Cowboy's answer.

But then aren't I covering the first string too?

What I'd do is either not play the top E string, or try to put light pressure on it so that I'm muting it.

Again as per the comments, capo on 10th fret is a quite extreme - you are going to have to cheat a bit and find some compromises if you really want to do that. (But then a lot of guitar playing is about cheating and finding compromises!)

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    If it must be played using 3 fingers, then middle, ring and pinky take up less space than index, middle and ring, looking at most people's physiology. Two fingers works well, although I've always used just the one, and still manage to have the top string play clearly. That shape (with barre) takes over at around 5th/6th fret barre for me.
    – Tim
    Aug 15 '19 at 8:14

If you are trying to replicate exactly the fingering in your chart at the 12-th fret and beyond it may not be possible. By the way the fingering you have is only one of a few ways to play it. You can bar the three notes with the first finger and either avoid playing the high e string, use the pinky on the 5-th fret e string to get another A. You can also finger those notes in the following sequence on the second fret (1, 2, 3), (2, 1, 3) (as you posted), (2, 3, 1) (which is Amin with the index finger pulled up a fret). etc. There isn't a perfect or proper form here. Any of these are necessary for smooth motion from one chord to another within a progression and I've seen all of the above and more notated in classical and jazz guitar arrangements. That being said, perhaps don't try and replicate the exact form. If you want to really hear the voicing

(x, 0, 2, 2, 2, 0)

on higher frets you will have to work at it until it feels comfortable. I personally do not use a capo and would bar the first finger to get the highest and lowest note in the chord, then use either a bar with the third finger to get the other notes or some combo of (2, 3, 4). That being said the open string fingerings do not survive when they are moved up the finger board. The voicing can be preserved but the fingering cannot (at least not easily without a capo). For example the A-form you want to move would be fingered as (x, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1), were the 2, 3, 4 fingers are all on the same fret consecutive strings. For this reason a lot of players prefer to use the "movable" chord fingerings in the open position. For example you can play the open A-form as (x, 0, 2, 3, 4, 0), rather than (x, 0, 2, 1, 3, 0) or other. This way as you shift your hand feels the same. It's one option.


Instead of 123 you can use 234

another possibility is to play A6 by laying the finger (don’t mind which one) or A7 by playing the 1.string in the 3rd (counting from the capo): A6 will fit as subdominante substitution for f#m (ii) for songs in E or tonic in A. A7 as dominante in D or subdominant in blues in E (would also fit as tonic in a blues in A.

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    I sometimes play with a guy who does that A6 trick. And it doesn't sound good.
    – Tim
    Aug 15 '19 at 8:17
  • @Tim Related: I've attended a lot of ukulele sessions over the years, and a high percentage of instructors, when teaching four basic chords to beginners, teach players to play G6 instead of G or G7 because it requires fewer fingers. Trouble is, they mostly play in C, and putting the 6th on the dominant is often a major deviation from the basic songs they learn. A lot of ukulele music just throws 6th chords around willy-nilly, and it's become something of a signature sound for Hawaiian music and ukulele. Evolution.
    – user45266
    Sep 12 '19 at 2:16

I am guessing you can play a basic A just fine. 'A' chords has three notes; A, C# and E. As long as you play those, in any order, you're good. I usually play x07655.

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    Yup, that's an A alright, but an entirely different voicing, and OP doesn't want to play an A, but a G. If OP was playing an A in the position you are talking about, it would be voiced x x 7 9 10 9, or moved down to the 5th fret for G. This of course omits the top note that OP also wants to play.
    – ex nihilo
    Aug 15 '19 at 17:28
  • Your A voicing is fine counting from the nut to get to the 7th fret. But since the OP will be using the tenth fret capo as the nut, your voicing would require him to get fret notes on the 17th, 16th and 15th frets which is not practical due to how close together the frets are there. Since the open position A chord shape only requires fretting two frets from the nut (or capo), that shape would be the most practical to use with capo on tenth fret. FWIW - try your mentioned voicing of A leaving the high e open. It's still an A but has a nice sound and is easier to play. I use that one often. Aug 15 '19 at 20:40

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