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How to play the A minor chord on guitar

Learn the essential A minor chord, used in hits like "Nothing Else Matters" and "Stairway to Heaven."

The Am chord

The Am chord, pronounced "A minor," is a versatile and widely used chord in various musical genres. It consists of the notes A, C, and E, creating a melancholic and somber sound. The Am chord is easy to play on the guitar, making it a staple for beginners. It's commonly found in popular songs across folk, rock, blues, and country music.

There are many ways to play a chord. Here's a diagram for the most common A minor chord. We've also included other versions below.

A minor guitar chord diagram

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Finger placement for Am chord

The A minor chord is one of the easiest chords to play on the guitar, and it is typically played as an open chord on the 1st fret.

Follow these finger positions to play an A minor chord on your guitar:

  1. Place your index finger on the 1st fret of the 2nd (B) string.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the 4th (D) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 2nd fret of the 3rd (G) string.

To strum the A minor chord, use a pick or your thumb to strum down across all six strings in one smooth motion, starting from the lowest (thickest) string.

A minor guitar chord with finger positions

How to play an easy Am chord on guitar

If you're a beginner looking to play a simpler version of the A minor chord, try this:

  1. Place your index finger on the 1st fret of the 2nd (B) string.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the 4th (D) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 2nd fret of the 3rd (G) string.
  4. Strum the top five strings.

How to play a Am bar chord

The A minor barre chord is a great alternative to the open A minor chord, as it allows you to play the same chord shape in different positions on the fretboard, making it easier to switch between chords and create new sounds.

Here's how to play an A minor barre chord:

  1. Place your index finger across all six strings at the 5th fret, creating a barre.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the 3rd (G) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 2nd fret of the 4th (D) string.
  4. Place your pinky finger on the 2nd fret of the 5th (A) string.
  5. Strum from the 5th (A) string down to the 1st (high E) string.

Common Am chord progressions

The A minor chord is often used in progressions that evoke feelings of sadness, introspection, and melancholy. Here are some common A minor chord progressions:

  • i - iv - v - i (Am - Dm - Em - Am)
  • i - VI - III - VII (Am - F - C - G) Used in "Stairway to Heaven" and "Wish You Were Here"
  • i - iv - VII - III (Am - Dm - G - C)
  • i - VII - VI - VII (Am - G - F - G)
  • i - VI - iv - V (Am - F - Dm - E)

Drills to master the Am chord

To master the A minor guitar chord, try playing the chord repeatedly, focusing on producing a clear, crisp sound. Strum each note individually, ensuring they ring out evenly. Once comfortable, practice transitioning to and from other chords you know.

Another effective drill is to play the chord in various rhythmic patterns. Start with simple, steady rhythms and gradually increase complexity. This helps develop muscle memory and dexterity. Experiment with different strumming techniques, such as alternating between downstrokes and upstrokes, to add dynamic variation to your playing.

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Songs that feature the Am chord

Here are 10 popular songs you can play with the A minor chord:

  1. Knockin' on Heaven's Door by Bob Dylan (G, D, Am)
  2. Zombie by The Cranberries (Em, C, G, D/F#)
  3. Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin (Am, C/G, D/F#, Fm)
  4. Wonderwall by Oasis (Em, G, D, Am)
  5. Love Story by Taylor Swift (C, G, Am, F)
  6. Passenger by Deftones (Am, F, Dm, Em)
  7. Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton (A, E, Dm, C, Am)
  8. Riptide by Vance Joy (Am, G, C)
  9. Creep by Radiohead (G, B, C, Cm)
  10. Fade to Black by Metallica (Em, C, G, Am, B)

How a guitar teacher can help

If you feel stuck in your playing, it might help to take personalized guitar lessons with an expert guitarist. Taking lessons with a pro gives you access to the skills, feedback, and motivation to reach your goals.

You can find expert guitar teachers to support you in the journey. Thousands of people have turned to online guitar lessons on Til, instead of traditional in-person lessons, because Til gives you access to the best teachers in the world from the comfort of home. And with flexible scheduling, secure payments, lesson recordings, and a private chat with your teacher–there’s never been a better way to learn guitar.

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