The A# Major chord enharmonically the same as the Bb major chord. As the A# chord does not contain any notes that can be played on open strings, there are no ‘open’ A# Major shapes.
Some Quick A# Chord Theory
- The A# Major chord contains the notes A#, Cx (same note as D) and E# (same note as F).
- The A# Major chord is produced by playing the 1st (root), 3rd and 5th notes of the A# Major scale.
- The A# Major chord (just like all Major chords) contains the following intervals (from the root note): Major 3rd, minor 3rd, Perfect 4th (back to the root note).
- The key of A# has following chords: A#, B#m (same as Cm), Cxm (same as Dm), D#, E# (same as F), Fxm (same as Gm), Gx diminished (same as A diminished).
10 Ways To Play The A# Major Chord
If you’ve come to this page just to view some chord diagrams for A#, here they are.
Standard A# Chord Shape
The most common way to play the A# chord essentially the root-5 A# barre chord, played on the first fret. Often, as in the example below, the first finger does not actually form a barre, but instead simply plays the root note.
Easy A# Chord Shape
The easy version of the A# chord is played on the first three strings of the guitar. Learning this simplified shape can be a good way to start using the A# chord if you find the barre chord versions too challenging.
How to Play the A Sharp Major Chord (Step by Step)
- Place your first finger on the first fret of the fifth string.
- Place your second finger on the third fret of the fourth string.
- Place your third finger on the third fret of the third string.
- Place your fourth finger on the third fret of the second string.
- Without strumming the sixth string, strum the first five strings.
The instructions above are step by step instructions for playing the most common A# Major chord shape. These instructions can actually be super helpful when you feel like you’re interpreting the shape incorrectly. By going through the A# chord instructions step by step, you can verify that you’re playing the chord correctly.
Barre Chord Shapes for A Sharp
The A# chord can be played as a barre chord by playing a root 6 barre chord shape and starting on the 6th fret or by playing a root 5 barre chord Major shape and starting on the 1st fret:
A# Major Triads
Playing the A# chord using barre chord shapes is the most common way of playing the chord. However, it is also useful to explore the chord using triads (including inversions). The A sharp Major triad can be voiced in the following three ways:
- A# Major Triad (Root Position) – A#, Cx, E#
- A# Major Triad (1st Inversion) – Cx, E#, A#
- A# Major Triad (2nd Inversion) – E#, A#, Cx
Here are six different ways to play the A# Major triad (including inversions).
Which Keys Have The A# chord in Them?
The A# chord can be found in the following keys:
- The key of A# Major (A#, B#m, Cxm, D#, E#, Fxm, Gxdim)
- The key of D# Major (D#, E#m, Fxm, G#, A#, B#m, Cxdim)
Keep in mind that the A sharp chord is harmonically the same as the B flat chord. Therefore, when you play the A# chord, you are also playing a Bb chord. However, we ‘use’ Bb much more than A#, because A# occurs in keys with obscure chords (Cxm, Gxdim etc.).
Alternative But Useful A Sharp Chord Shapes
The following shapes are alternative ways of playing the A sharp Major chord shape. They’re not the most common A# shapes, but used enough to include here as interesting alternatives.
A# Chord Substitutions
The A# chord can often be substituted with the A# sus 4 chord, the A# sus 2 chord and the A# add 9 chord. The A# chord can also be used itself as a substitute for more complicated chords, such as the A# Major 7 chord, the A#7 chord, and other extension chords which have A# as the root note (it can’t be used in place of minor chords though!).
Which Scales Can Be Played Over the A# chord?
The most common and effective scales that can be used to solo/improvise over the A# Major chord, or to create melodies for the purposes of song writing are:
- A# Major pentatonic scale – This scale will almost always work over the A# Major chord, in any context.
- A# Major scale – This is the ‘default scale’ of the Bb chord.
- A# Lydian mode – This scale can be used over the Bb chord in certain contexts to add a jazz flavour.
- Bb Major Blues – This scale is particularly useful in a Blues context.