Learning E and A major
In a previous lesson, we learned how to chord G, C and D on the acoustic guitar. Be sure, if you have not had the chance, to refer to that previous lesson to begin mastering those chords. Beginning guitar is not easy, and it takes a little effort, daily, for several months to overcome some hurdles, but keep pressing on and you will begin to chord and strum cleanly. Who knows, one day you may be performing at one of the fine music hall of our time! Be sure, at some point, to get lessons from a teaching professional as well, as he or she can help give you pointers and corrections that might save months or years of frustration by protecting you from learning bad or sloppy habits. Also, be sure to find the best acoustic guitar for a beginner, to fit your budget and to reduce needless frustration that can come from a low quality instrument. You can review acoustic guitars from several vantages, including size, budget, craftsmanship, and tonewoods at StrumViews.com before making a commitment.
And on to the next two chords, E and A major!
The E major chord is perhaps one of the most fundamental chords, because it is also used in bar chords, to slide up and down the fretboard, but we will cover that in another lesson. To chord the E major chord on the acoustic guitar (by the way, these also work the same for an electric 6 string guitar, or an acoustic 12 string guitar), place your 2nd finger on the 5th string 2nd fret, and place your 3rd finger on the 4th string 2nd fret. Next, place your 1st finger on the 3rd string 1st fret. Be sure that your fingers are only touching those 3 strings on the appropriate fret, and then strum all 6 strings. If you chorded cleanly, and with enough finger pressure from your left hand, you will hear a clean E chord.
Next, to play the A major chord, you will notice that in the diagram, all 3 fingers for this chord are on the same fret, #2. So, place fingers 1, 2, and 3 on strings 4,3, and 2 of the second fret consecutively. Be sure to strum only strings 5 though 1, leaving out the biggest string # 6, the low “E” string.
Next, practice switching between chords E and A. If it is too difficult for you to strum and chord at the same time, simply practice switching chords without strumming until you feel more comfortable. Soon, you will internalize these chords with enough practice, and will develop a sense of “feel” for where they are without having to refer to chord charts. At some point, you will be able to see an A or E chord, or think A or E, and simultaneously play it without much effort. One you are comfortable chording, you can introduce the proper strumming, being sure to strum all 6 strings for the E, and only strings 5 through 1 for the A major chord on the acoustic guitar.
Now, to add a little interest to it, recall the D major chord you learned in the previous lesson. Try to switch between E, A, and D, then back to A and finally E. Once you are comfortable, you can strum them in different time scales, such as 4/4 time, 3 / 4 time, or 6 / 8 time, playing, E, A, D, A, E, A, D, A, E and so on. Now, try to recognize some common songs that you have heard that use this simple chord progression. You can refer to some childrens' songs, as well as some popular songs. See if you are able to begin training your ear by recognizing these chords in different songs. A fun way to begin training your ear is to sit with your guitar, and listen to a song, while trying to pick up a few chords here and there. With some effort, you will be able to listen to songs and go straight to your guitar and recognize the chord progression.
Sometimes the chord progression will be in a different key, and until you learn how to perform other chords, including bar chord, you may have to use a capo to play in different keys to match songs, as long as it does not become a crutch for avoiding learning bar chords and more complex chords that may be challenging for you to play.
This entry level acoustic guitar lesson on chords A and E was provided by Aaron Schulman, and avid guitar player, instructor, and writer for over 20 years. You can read more at his site, Strumviews.com, about acoustic guitars, acoustic guitar reviews, and you can also learn how to buy an acoustic guitar to be confident in knowing the product before making the investment for you or for child or student.