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Jim covers all possible fingering options pertaining to the basic open A chord shape.
Taught by Jim Deeming in Basic Guitar with Jim seriesLength: 17:42Difficulty: 2.5 of 5
Jim Deeming plays an arrangement of “Me and Bobby McGee” to start off the lesson. Many of you may be familiar with Johnny Cash’s rendition of this song. Jim’s arrangement of the tune is in the key of A major.
Many Jamplay members have voiced their difficulties with “A shape” chords. In this lesson, Jim presents several different chord shapes that can be used to play an A chord. He also demonstrates how the basic “open” A chord shape translates into a moveable barre chord.Chapter 2: (09:07) Playing the A Shape Barre Chord
There are several different ways to play an A chord. The first A chord that every student should learn is referred to as the “open” A chord. A chord shape is referred to as “open” when it contains one or more open strings. There are three different ways to finger the basic A chord.
The most common fingering of the A chord is demonstrated first. Here is a string-by-string breakdown of the left-hand fingering:6th string: not played
Notice how fingers 1, 2, and 3 are stacked on top of each other.
Note: For a fretboard diagram of this chord, click on the fourth chord from the top under the “Suplemental Content” tab.
This fingering is typically taught first, because it is easiest for most beginning guitarists to master. However, this is not always the best fingering to use. Some guitarists simply have bigger hands than others do. If you have spent significant time trying to master this fingering of the A chord with no success, it might be time to move on to another fingering option.Option 2
Many guitarists with large hands prefer to play the open A shape a different way. Guitarists with large hands have difficulty with smashing three fingers into the space of one fret. Jim demonstrates a fingering for this chord that clears up this problem. The pinky finger is much smaller than the first finger. For this reason, the first finger is pulled from the chord fingering, and the pinky is added. Here is the appropriate fingering for the chord:
6th string: not played
5th string: open
4th string: 2nd fret, 2nd finger
3rd string: 2nd fret, 3rd finger
2nd string: 2nd fret, 4th finger
1st string: open
Notice how the left-hand fingers are still stacked on top of each other. As Jim mentions, this is a difficult fingering to use when adding additional melody notes to a chord.Option 3
When playing an A chord, many players prefer to barre all the notes at the second fret with the first finger. This frees up the other three fingers to play a melody in conjunction with the chord. This particular fingering may be difficult for beginners who have not yet learned any barre chords.Option 4
Note: Open the second A chord option under the “Supplemental Content” tab for a fretboard diagram of this chord.
Many guitarists prefer to use the third fingering option for the A chord. (Jamplay instructor Matt Brown uses this fingering exclusively for open A.) This shape provides many immediate advantages. Since each finger is not stacked in a line, it is much easier to fit three fingers into one fret. Take a look at the picture of this chord being fretted in Supplemental Content. The third finger is directly below the second finger. This saves some essential space.
It is much easier to switch to different chords when this fingering is applied. In the key of A, the primary chords are A, D, and E. When switching from A to D for example, the first finger does not need to move at all. If you use option 1 or 2 to finger the A chord, you will need to completely reposition your fingers to play D. Also, it is much easier to switch from A to E and vice versa. The first finger only needs to slide down one fret to set up for the E chord.
Although this fingering looks quite awkward, it is actually quite comfortable to play.Chapter 3: (07:45) More Ways to Play the A Shape
Jim demonstrates a few different ways to play the “A shape” barre chord in this scene. All barre chords are moveable chord shapes. This means that the shape can be transposed anywhere on the fretboard. The root of this moveable chord shape is found on the fifth string. The first finger frets this note. The fifth string root indicates the name of the chord. For example, if you play a barre chord with a root note at the 1st fret, the name of the chord is Bb.Option 1
Begin with the second option for the open A chord. This is the basis for the first A barre chord option. The open A chord contains two open strings: A and high E. When this chord shape is translated into a barre chord, the first finger is added to the fingering to fret these two notes. Here is a string-by-string fingering of a C chord at the third fret:
6th string: not played 5th string: 3rd fret, 1st finger
4th string: 5th fret, 2nd finger
3rd string: 5th fret, 3rd finger
2nd string: 5th fret, 4th finger
1st string: 3rd fret, 1st finger
As you have noticed, this fingering is nearly impossible to play. It is even more difficult to switch to this shape from another chord.Option 2
It is much easier to play the A shape of the barre chord using an alternate fingering. Instead of cramming three fingers into one fret, use a barre with the third finger to fret the notes on the D, G, and B strings. This fingering is quite difficult as well, but it is much easier to play than the previous option. Notice how the third finger must slightly arch to avoid muting the high E string. Due to the shape of some peoples’ hands, this is simply not possible. Many players choose to ignore the note on the first string and mute it with the third finger. This is perfectly acceptable when playing this barre chord shape.
Note: Open the “Supplemental Content” tab for a fretboard diagram of this chord shape.
If you have any questions or problems with this lesson, feel free to email the Jamplay staff.
Fingerstyle master Jim Deeming teaches you the basics of guitar playing. With over 30 years of experience teaching and playing, Jim will definitely start you in the right direction. This is a great series for beginners and guitarists looking to refresh their knowledge.
In this short lesson, Jim Deeming will introduce himself and talk about his upcoming lessons.Length: 6:12 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
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Jim Deeming walks you through the process of changing your strings. He gives some excellent tips on this important process.Length: 41:09 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Jim introduces proper playing technique. Then, he explains how to play your first chord.Length: 52:24 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Jim teaches you the 3 primary chords in G major. He also explains how chords relate to specific keys. A great lesson!Length: 39:15 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
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This lesson provides additional information about chords and keys.Length: 19:08 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
This lesson is all about playing. Jim will start you off playing a song. You will have the opportunity to play along with him.Length: 20:10 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Jim teaches you a few more commonly used chords. Then, he discusses a technique known as the alternating bass line.Length: 40:54 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Jim covers all possible fingering options pertaining to the basic open A chord shape.Length: 17:42 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Jim talks about the future of his Phase 1 guitar series and where to go from here.Length: 4:18 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Jim delves into basic music theory. He starts from square one in this lesson.Length: 29:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Jim Deeming invites you to a veritable chord fiesta. He demonstrates common dominant and minor chord shapes.Length: 43:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
This lesson is all about movable chords. Learn the importance of barre chords and other movable shapes.Length: 40:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Jim Deeming explains how to create a productive practice routine. Make sure you aren't wasting needless time!Length: 30:00 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Many guitarists use their pinky as an anchor. Jim explains the pros and cons of this technique.Length: 9:00 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Jim discusses an important technique--palm muting. He explains how palm muting is used by flatpickers and fingerstyle players.Length: 7:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
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Jim is back with another "let's play" style lesson. He teaches the classic song "Red River Valley" and encourages you to play along.Length: 52:38 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Jim Deeming introduces drop D tuning. Drop D is a popular alternate tuning used in many styles of music including rock, fingerstyle and blues.Length: 25:25 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Jim Deeming breaks down the song sections to the classic tune "Wayfaring Stranger".Length: 29:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Jim Deeming takes another, more focused look at drop D tuning.Length: 6:27 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Jim Deeming discusses how to use a metronome for practice, skill building, and speed building.Length: 24:02 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
About Jim Deeming
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Jim Deeming got his first guitar when he was only six years old. His Dad was taking fingerpicking lessons, and Jim wanted to be just like him. The Mel Bay books didn't last very long before he strapped on a thumb pick and added the Chet part to Red River Valley so it sounded better.
Most of Jim's early learning was by ear. With unlimited access to his Dad's collection of Chet Atkins albums, he spent countless hours decoding his favorite songs. They were never "right" until they sounded just like Chet. Around the age of 12, Jim heard Jerry Reed for the first time and just knew he had to be able to make that "Alabama Wild Man" sound. The styles of Chet & Jerry always have been a big influence on his playing.
More recently he has pursued arrangements by Tommy Emmanuel and Doyle Dykes, in addition to creating some of his own and writing originals.
Jim has performed in front of a variety of audiences, including concerts, competitions, weddings and the like, but playing at church has always been a mainstay. Whether playing in worship bands or guitar solos, gospel music is deep in his roots and is also the driving theme behind his debut CD release, titled "First Fruits".
Jim has been playing for about 38 years. He also has taught private lessons in the past but believes JamPlay.com is an exciting and better venue with many advantages over the traditional method of weekly 30 minute sessions.
Jim lives in Berthoud, Colorado with his wife, Linda, and their four children. Although he still has a "day job", he is actively performing and is already back in the studio working on the next CD. If you wonder how he finds time, look no further than the back seat of his truck where he keeps a "travel guitar" to take advantage of any practice or song-writing opportunities he can get.
The opening song you hear in Jim's introductory JamPlay video is called, "A Pick In My Pocket". It's an original tune, written in memory of Jim's father who told him early on he should always keep a pick in his pocket in case he ever met Chet Atkins and got the chance to play for him. That song is slated to be the title track for his next CD, which will feature several more originals plus some of his favorite covers of Chet and Jerry arrangements.
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Take a minute to compare JamPlay to other traditional and new methods of learning guitar. Our estimates for "In-Person" lessons below are based on a weekly face-to-face lesson for $40 per hour.
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