Updated: October 7, 2020 by Richard Cole
Guitars are one of the most intriguing instruments when you really look at them from a more esoteric perspective.
Sure, every instrument is flexible and capable in their own right, but how many can actually fuse the acoustic properties with amplification like guitars can?
Just the amount of effects you can create using nothing more than a guitar and an amp is impressive. Think natural harmonics and the dynamic nature of this phenomenon. We digress. What we want to talk about today are chord on guitar. More specifically, the A Minor chord.
Before we get into all of the different ways you can grip this particular chord, we need to discuss what chords are, and what a minor chord is. Even though many of new guitar players really just want to skip music theory all together, and jump into more practical part of learning how to play guitar, if you are a beginner, you should read this article.
We will keep things simple, but what we have for you today may actually help you clear up some questions you had about guitars. We will also show you how to play A minor guitar chord.
Basic Music Theory
So, a chord. What is it exactly? The easiest way to describe a chord, any chord, is to call it a group of notes that sound good when played together. If this explanation sounds silly to you, try gripping a random set of notes and strumming them all together. Chances are that the shape you chose to play will sound completely out of tune.
A chord is a group of notes that just sounds good when played together. Every chord has a root note. Which root note you pick will dictate the name of the chord. So if you select G note as your root note, the chord will also be called a G chord.
To fully understand chords, you need to know what scales are. Chord are directly derived from scales, and include tones from the said scale. Without digressing too much, let’s just touch upon scales for a minute. Every modern instrument uses 12 notes unique notes.
These 12 notes make a chromatic scale. If you take a look at the neck of your guitar, you will see that inlays on 3rd, 5th, 7th fret all have one dot or some kind of shape. The 12th fret will have two dots. These two dots indicate the end of a chromatic scale.
The notes after the 12th fret are the same 12 notes only in a higher octave. With that said, scales are nothing more but ways to arrange these 12 notes in a way that sounds good. There are numerous different scales out there, too many to list really.
So now that we know what scales are, and that chords are derived directly from scales, let’s talk about Minor chords. Every chord, Major and Minor has three elements that will always be the same.
The root note, the third, and the fifth. The only difference between a Major chord and a Minor chord is in the third note.
Minor chords will have a third which is offset by a half note compared to a Major chord. In other words, a Major chord will have a third which is exactly four frets away from the root note, while a Minor chord will have a third that is three frets away from the root note.
Ways to play Am Chord
Alright, since we explained the basics surrounding guitar chords, what they are consisted of, and what the difference is between a major and a minor one, it’s time to talk about the Am chord.
This chord is usually described as dark, and gives the song a more dramatic vibe. Just like it’s the case with every other cord in the book, there are many ways you can play Am chord on a guitar.
The most popular, and probably the easiest way is to place your index finger on the first fret of the fifth string, your ring finger on the second fret of the fourth string, and your middle finger on the second fret of the third string.
You will play all of the strings except the low E string. So you have an open A and open high E string. Another popular way to play this chord is to play the barre version.
In order to do so you need to barre the fifth fret by placing your index finger in a way that exerts equal pressure to all six strings on the fifth fret of the guitar. Your pinky will go to the seventh fret of the D string, and your ring finger will go to the seventh fret of the A string. This version of Am chord works the best if you want to play it while using some kind of distortion or overdrive.
In terms of chord progressions, there are some chords that work really well when played before or after the Am chord. For example, if you want one that transitions really nice after the Am, you can always play Bm, Bdim or C.
A good chord to lead into an Am chord is a G chord. A recent research has showed that the most probable chord to be played before Am is actually Em. This conclusion was reached after analyzing over a thousand popular songs.
Learning chords is something that every guitar player does almost immediately as they start learning how to play. Out of all the chords that are recommended for beginners, A minor guitar chord is probably one of the most popular ones. It’s a very easy yet powerful chord that is used in a majority of popular songs you hear on the radio every day.
You could go as far as to say it’s the building block of rock and roll music by now. If you are just starting to learn how to play guitar, we suggest you include the Am chord in your daily practice.
The shape of this chord is in the blueprint of power chords you will want to learn soon after, so you might as well start right away.