A Minor Chord: Introduction
If you learn more than one or two songs on guitar, you’re bound to cross paths with an A minor chord pretty quickly. A minor is not only extremely common; it’s also surprisingly easy to play.
We’ll look at the two most popular ways of playing this chord, which include both an open and barre version.
What songs use an A minor chord?
As previously mentioned, there are a great number of tunes that utilize A minor. Here are a few:
- Knocking on Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan
- Alabama Song (Whisky Bar) by The Doors
- Little Wing by Jimi Hendrix
- Babe I’m Gonna Leave You by Led Zeppelin
- Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley
What notes are in an A Minor chord?
An A minor triad is made up of the notes A, C, and E. A true A minor chord has to include all of these notes, and can’t include any others (some or all of these three pitches will usually be doubled).
On guitar, an open A minor is made up of, from top to bottom:
E, A, C, A, C, E
Every note is doubled.
On a keyboard, as with any triad, you can use any combination these three notes to play either a root position or inverted A minor chord.
How to play an A minor chord on guitar
The A minor chord is almost always played in open position (at the top of the neck) on the guitar. Occasionally you’ll see it played as an E-shaped barre chord further down the neck.
These two variations are almost exclusively used when an A minor chord is needed. Let’s look at the chord diagrams for these two shapes.
A Minor Chord: Open
This is the first A minor shape any guitarists learns, and unless they make a lot of progress as a guitarist it’s usually the only one that’s needed.
If you know how to play an E Major chord you’ll have an easy time learning A minor. It’s the same exact shape played on the same fret, but with each finger shifted down a string.
A Minor Chord: Barre
This variation of the A minor chord is played beginning at the fifth fret and stretching down the seventh. It’s played using the standard E minor barre shape.
You can wrap your thumb around to fret the bass string or barre the entire fifth fret with your index finger; this comes down to personal preference.
Alternatively, this chord can be simplified by barring only the bottom three strings; it’s still technically an A minor, although the low E string will sound especially low compared to the other pitches.