A5 Chord – Your Essential Guide To This Powerful Chord

The A5 chord is one of the most powerful chords you can learn. In this lesson we’ll show you the best ways to play this chord and share 7 bonus tips that will turbo-charge your musicality.


In this free lesson you will learn…

  • 3 easy ways to play A5 chords cleanly
  • How to play A5 chords in multiple fretboard positions
  • 4 tips for making your A5 chords sound amazing
  • How A5 chords are constructed
  • 3 cool alternate voicings of the A5 chord

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The ‘beginner version’ of the A5 Chord

The A5 chord is one of the most widely-used chords in many different genres of music.

  • There is a good reason for this, and it’s because of its versatility.
  • The A5 chord is a simple and effective tool that should reside in every guitarist’s toolbox of chords, and it can be used everywhere.

Let’s look at the first position of the A5 chord that we’ll be learning today, this is the version most beginner guitarists encounter first:


(If you don't understand the above image please read our article "How To Read Guitar Chordboxes In 60 Seconds". It will make everything clear!)


We can play this chord in two ways:

  1. By placing our index finger on the D string at the second fret, and our middle finger on the G string at the second fret
  2. By barring our index finger across both the D & G strings at the second fret.

In both cases, we’ll be strumming from the open A string to the G string.

Technique Point: Try to avoid hitting the B and E strings for this chord.

Version A is definitely the easier of the two ways to play the A5 chord, but you should make sure to practice both once you feel comfortable.

Remember that no matter what way you play, as long as you’re hitting the right notes – it’s the right chord!

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Where should we send it?

What’s ‘inside’ an A5 Chord? What is it made of?

The A5 Chord is made up of only two notes – A and E.

  • In music theory, these are the first ( I ) and fifth ( V ) notes (or “scale degrees”) of almost every scale in the key of A.
  • Every note has an assigned “value” to it in the scale that it belongs to.
  • Depending upon the scale, some of those values can change. The I note will never change, and the V rarely does.

This quality makes the A5 chord (and all chords like it) a great foundational chord for guitarists that are just starting out.


Cool Tip! Why the A5 Chord is Different From Major & Minor Chords

As we read above, the A5 chord only contains two notes. This means it isn’t major or minor. This makes this A5 chord (and all 5 chords) very portable.

A major and A minor contain three notes. But the A5 chord only has two.

This is important to know because the A5 will typically sound “darker” than its major and minor counterparts, and this is due to its simplicity. It also means it can be played in a wider range of scenarios.

Think of “5-style” chords as “stripped down” versions of major and minor chords!


Skill Tip: Try playing an A Major chord, then an A Minor chord, and finally an A5 chord. Listen to and consider the difference in how they sound.

Really listen for the difference in the tone of each chord and try to identify what sounds “different” about each one.

  • This will train your ear to the sound of different chord types and help you pick up on the differences more easily in the future.
  • This is a really cool skill to develop but you have to be intentional about improving this.

It won’t happen by magic and it’s not something that you absorb by osmosis over time. You have to narrow the focus of your ears and concentrate.

Close your eyes and try it. It’s pretty cool.


Powerchord blast off! The most common way to play the A5 Chord for intermediate guitarists

5 chords are also referred to as ‘powerchords’.

Try bouncing back and forth between the A5 and E5 powerchords in the example below:


Skill Tip: It’s important to try strumming these chords in different ways. Try strumming up and down, as well as with just downstrokes. The key is to try not to hit any other strings. Give it a shot!


Power Chords & fifths are the same thing

A quick note on terminology before we continue (because this can get confusing)…

Technically, any “5-style” chord like A5 is a “Power Chord,” regardless of  how you play it.

In the guitar world however, the term is most often associated with the three-string version of a 5-style chord.

Pro Tip: A lot of guitarists refer to powerchords as ‘fifths’. Because they are all called ‘Something 5’, like A5, D5 and E5 for example.


Power chords are especially juicy and are extremely popular in the Rock world because of their “beefier” tone.

  • This doesn’t mean that they only work for that style of music though!
  • Power chords also work great in other genres like funk, pop and especially blues, to name just a few.

Let’s look at the most common example of the A5 power chord, at the 5th fret on the low E string:


Now, do yourself a favor: Grab your pick, turn up your amp, add a little gain and hit those three strings as hard as you can (without breaking a string, of course).

Now, do it again.

Feels great, right?

Next, we’re going to pick each of those three strings individually, and lightly.

The key here is to let all three strings ring out together as you pick them.

This is called an arpeggio, and it should look something like this:


Hear the difference? This is why the A5 chord is great for all genres.

It can be a dark and heavy chord to rock out with, or it can be light and refreshing. The choice is yours!

If you want to learn some more arpeggios, check out our lesson on them here.

Let’s look at some other ways that we can play A5.


Three More Cool A5 Chord Positions

As we discussed earlier, the A5 chord is easy to grab from a number of positions on the fretboard.

When we are learning about chords, it’s important to look at the different positions they can be played in.

This helps to give us more awareness of where we are on the fretboard and grants us better knowledge of our chord shapes!

The next position we can tackle is at the 12th and 14th frets:


Because this version of A5 is so high up the neck, it has a higher pitch to it.

  • This gives us a lighter-sounding version of the chord that isn’t as dark as the two positions we’ve already tackled.
  • Though it can be used in rock music, this version of A5 sounds great on an acoustic guitar or through a clean amp with some reverb and delay.

Want to challenge yourself? Try each one of these variations on A5 for yourself and see if you can hear the differences in how they sound. When you’re done practicing A5, try another “5-style” chord like G5!

In this case, G5 would be played in the same shape at the 10th fret on the A string.


Even though these are all the same chord, they will sound different on the higher strings than they will on the lower ones.

It’s important to learn different variations of the same chord, but if you want to stick to the ones we’re focusing on most, that’s okay too!

You can use the exact same hand position that we’ve been using so far for all of these chords (Index and ring finger, two frets apart, one string apart).

Because… Remember…. The fifth shape is MOVEABLE! 🙂


You can also play the full chord pictured (with the additional A on top) by adding your pinky finger on top. This isn’t necessary, but it’s good practice.

We’ve also included a bonus version of A5 on the D string at the 7th fret. We can use the same technique for this chord shape as well, just move your pinky finger up one fret!


Why the A5 Chord Works

This chord works well because of its ‘reduced’ sound. 

  • It isn’t stuffed full of notes like some chords are, and that makes it not only easy to play but easy to use as well.
  • Its two notes make it easy to grab, and easy to practice with.
  • We can employ this chord in a driving punk rock tune with a wall of distortion and make it sound massive and aggressive.
  • Alternatively, we can use the open sound of A5 to create a beautifully thick chord that leaves plenty of room for a vocalist to sing over.


Skill Tip: The A5 chord is a great choice for beginner-level guitarists who are practicing applying better pressure to the fretboard with their fingers. It gives us a wholesome sound without making us stretch our fingers too much.

It is also just as good for the guitarist who wants to reduce the amount of notes they play in a chord for a different vibe.

The A5 Chord in Different Styles

In order to get a better idea of what these songs could sound like in context, let’s look at the A5 in two different genres.

We’re going to use the same three “5-style” chords so you can really hear the difference. Check out the tabs and play along!



The first example will be a rock riff that starts with A5 on the fifth fret, moves to G5 on the third fret, and ends on E5 in the open position.

  • All three of these chords use the “5-style” chord, so you can simply shift your hand down the fretboard and maintain the same finger position throughout. p
  • You can strum these chords up and down, or you can pound away at them with downstrokes. Get creative with it!

If you have an amp, distortion is highly encouraged (just try not to wake the neighbours).



Just like the example above, we’ll be using the same three chords – A5, G5 and E5.

This time though, instead of playing with distortion we’ll be picking the E and A strings back and forth.

This will help to create a completely different atmosphere with a lighter, more welcoming vibe.


Take note of how each of these approaches make you feel, as that helps you determine what you like most about your instrument and how to evoke different emotions through your music.

How to Practice the A5 Chord

Learning how to practice effectively makes a big difference to your guitar playing. It can also help you achieve your goals faster and keep you on the right track and focussed.

Here are a few things you can do to help your practice routine with the A5 chord:

  • Stretch first! This applies to practice of any kind, but stretching before practice can help us avoid excess tension in our wrists and forearms.
  • Keep it loose – the only thing that should be tense are your guitar strings!


  • Play arpeggios! When we first start out on guitar, making the stretch from the 5th fret to the 7th to grab that A5 power chord can seem huge.
  • Getting our fingers into a comfortable and secure position takes time and practice. Arpeggios help us to “spell out” chords so that we can hear each note ring out against the next.

They also help us hear what strings we may be accidentally muting, so that we can better position our hands!

Learn at your own pace. It doesn’t matter if you’re a hobby guitarist or a professional – we play music for ourselves first, and it should always be enjoyable.

  • Practice the individual fingerings of each note in the chord separately, then together. This will help your fingers get used to knowing where they are supposed to be, and helps them work better together!


Homework: Listening

As always, listening is one of the most key components of music education for any instrument. 

Finding songs that demonstrate what we are learning about helps us to hear the learning material in context.

We’ve put together a few great songs for you to listen to that make great use of power chords.

Check them out and if you like it, learn it!

Where Do I Go From Here?

If you want to keep improving your rapidly-growing guitar skills, we highly recommend all of the following: 

  • Pick up a copy of Guitar Chords for Beginners by Gareth Evans
  • Check out our library of free guitar lessons to keep sharpening your skills
  • Get inspired with some new music! Today’s inspiration recommendation is Mark Lettieri (see if you can find the ‘5-style’ chords that he’s using!)
  • Pair the A5 chord up with other chords that you already know, and see how they play together
  • Jam with a friend!


Recommended Resources

If you’re looking to continue learning about different chords, check out some more of our free resources below and keep playing!

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