Guitar Chord A/F#

May be a dumb question, but I’m a beginner guitarist and was just perusing the acoustic tab for Radiohead’s Fake Plastic Trees.
The chords seem well suited to a beginner but I have a question about the chord:

A/F# (2x0220)

You can probably see where my problem lies. How do I strum this chord, specifically the A string - is it muted?

This context (thanks to Rigs for tab - moderator hope its ok to post a snippet of publicly available data):

A---------------- E-------- A/F#-----------------------AMaj7----DSus2
Her green plastic watering can, for her fake Chinese rubber plant

The easiest way (for me, anyway) is to wrap your thumb around the neck to fret the E and mute the A.

I’ll give it a whirl tonight. Thanks

Reminds me to pay my subs :smack:

Yeah, that’s pretty much the only way to do it without contorting your hand. I avoid the whole problem by playing without a pick.

I’m not sure where they get that chord name. An “A over F#” would simply be an F#m7 in the first place, but the voicing shown has a D in it, which makes it a Dmaj9 (first inversion).

I don’t play guitar well enough to suggest a fingering, but if that is an A major triad with an F# in the bass, you have two choices. Consider that an F#minor 7th chord is enharmonically equivalent and play that, or treat the F# as an instruction for the bass player and the guitarist needs to only play the A major triad.

It depends on whether you have a bass player or not, of course.

And I am also assuming that this notation is horizontal: A/F#, not vertical like:



…which is usually taken to be polyphonic, or an A major triad in the higher pitch range with an F# major triad in the lower (pitches would be F#, A#, C#, A, C#, E). Can’t help you with that fingering, and it’s probably not what was intended.

Back to the first part of my post…if you are reading a lead sheet, the harmonic notation probably refers to the overall band’s harmony (most instruments are playing an A major triad, but the bass is playing an F#). If you are reading a guitar part, it is specific to the guitar (all 4 tones should probably be included with the F# on the bottom). Knowing which it is could affect how you play it, and you didn’t say.

It also could have been written by someone who didn’t know that they were playing an F#minor 7th and chose a more obscure notation out of ignorance (I’ve seen that happen, don’t laugh).

I agree; however, depending on the chord transitions in the song, if you would prefer to have your thumb on the back of the neck, I would fret the low E with my index finger, and have it “shade” the A to mute that string…

  1. I’m also confused by the notation. I’d think an A/F# would be fingered something like (202220); I’m not sure what (2x0220) is.
  2. I don’t know this song, but usually (not always but usually) when you’re playing a chord with a different bass note, you’re going to pluck just the bass note, then strum the rest of the chord, rather than strumming all of them. (Like, say, strumming “Needle and the Damage Done”)

True, and that especially might be easier for someone not used to the thumb maneuver. It’s a good trick to learn, though, especially if you do a lot of acoustic strumming. Fortunately, I was playing a lot back when G’nR’s “Patience” was popular, so that interminable ending bit trained me good on that one. :slight_smile:

That wouldn’t be out of place - the A-G#-F# descent is particularly prominent in the original:

Not necessarily. I don’t know the song, but slash chords are not always musically equivalent to their enharmonic counterparts.

Just last night I was helping my roommate through a little music theory; his guitar teacher has him playing While My Guitar Gently Weeps from some sheet music/tab. The first three chords are Am, Am/G, D/F#.

Now, that Am/G is not an Am7. If the whole band (in this case, just guitar) played Am7, it would sound wrong (or at least less right). There’s a moving bass line under an Am; the G isn’t meant to be played anywhere besides in the bass.

Irrelevant. Even if the “slash” note were disregarded, the chord as shown would still be a Dmaj9, and not an A.

Biff, I think you’re thinking in harmonic terms, not instructions for a particular instrument, and that’s kinda what Eonwe is saying. And if you read my last post, that’s a point I brought up, too.

This is an area of vast confusion. Do the “guitar symbols” on a lead sheet mean the band’s harmonic structure or are they playing instructions for a guitar? It depends.

I concur with this fingering. Using the thumb also works for me, but it makes me feel unprepared for whatever the next chord is.

**'cat **- we’re discussing *guitarists *here; if you use the phrase “harmonic structure” around us, we start looking for a blues harpist to sit in on the jam. :wink: They are only playing instructions for a guitar; I typically read them as “this main chord with that passing note in the bass”…

Not on all lead sheets. If you have one that was prepared that way or marked as such, sure. Others, not so much.

I typically read them the same way you do, but Biffy brought up the notation as a harmonic sense (D Maj9). At least I think that’s what he was saying.

I would just throw the sheet music away, play along to the tune and use my ears. Whatever sounds right usually is.

The second I realize **Biffy **was talking theory, my brain kinda shut down…:wink: that stuff whooshes right past me!

Well, it’s barely even theory…I’m not talking about functional harmony, which is generally unknown to/ignored by rock songwriters anyway. Just chord identification.

All I’m saying is that the chord F#, D, A, C#, E (assuming the fingering diagram in the OP is correct) cannot be described as an A major with a passing F# in the bass. The D note isn’t explained by that description. Now, absent a functional harmonic context, like a cycle of fifths, isolated chords can be interpreted in different ways. If you want to tie yourself in knots, you can call it an A(add11)/F#. Or a Bm11 (rootless voicing) for that matter. But the *simplest *interpretation of the chord is Dmaj9.

[Simpson’s reference - when a kid has no clue about what some other folks are discussing]

My cat’s breath smells like cat food!

[/Simpson’s reference]

(actually, I get the gist of what you’re saying, but my basic guitar-playing mindset is in line with how Keith Richards describes playing in Open G tuning: “it’s great - you only need 3 chords, 2 fingers and 1 asshole - me!”…;))