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Improve Your Chord Changes

How to speed up your chord changes for playing songs

Do you struggle to change chord smoothly? Maybe you are learning a new song but it just keeps going wrong and you don’t know how to fix it? Chord changing is one if not the number one thing that beginners struggle with. In this article you are going to learn what to practice and how to fix any problems to confidently play chords and enjoy strumming you favourite songs.

To learn to change chords first you need to become aware of some principles. First of all we are going to focus only on the fretting hand. Learning guitar comprises of lots of accurate movements to be performed at the same time. Most people learning without any professional instruction try and follow a youtube video or tutor book to play their favourite song. The problem with this is that you may not be at the level required to play this song or the instruction is either ineffective for you or simply incorrect. By focusing on the fretting hand only we are separating a part of the overall mechanism to play guitar. If you are patient with yourself you will discover these benefits.

1. You will achieve much faster progress changing chords.
2. You will find it easier and more beneficial compared to having your way through each practice session.
3. You will notice what you are doing in a much closer way and learn the right and wrong way to do things and correct mistakes instantly.
4. You will be learning some of the best training methods taught by the worlds top guitar teachers.

Step 1

IMPORTANT – Do not strum at all when practice this exercise, it will only be a distraction and work against you, sit on your hand if need be! Now choose two chords that you would like to be able to move between faster and smoother. In this example lets say that is G and C major.

Place all your fingers down on a G chord. Now without taking your fingers off from the strings relax your hand so as you are not pressing down anymore (your fingers should still be very lightly touching the strings still). Now push down with all of the fingers at the same time and again release the pressure. Do this up and down continuously without without stopping for at least 30 times. Take a break, shake out the hand.

Now repeat the whole process on the C major chord. Place the fingers where they need to be

Step 2

Repeat the above steps for each chord separately and then one after another. This time though instead of keeping your fingers in contact with the strings after you push down you lift the fingers away from the fretboard. Press the G chord and then lift your fingers about two inches away from the fretboard aiming to keep the chord shape together as your fingers lift in the air. Now bring the shape back on to the fretboard and press down the strings. Repeat this on each chord and then do this exercise but change to the C chord and then back and forth as before.

Step 3

Now move between each chord (G and C) very slowly aiming to place all the fingers down at the same time. Chances are that you will need more practice yet but notice which fingers go down on the strings first and which ones are arriving ‘late’. Is there one finger that always seems slower than the rest? Chances are that its the 3rd finger when you move back to the C chord. What you now need to do is aim to move that finger FIRST before all of the other fingers. Put the G chord down and then take all fingers off and when going to the C chord put that 3rd finger down before all the others.

What we are doing here is identifying the problem finger. That problem finger needs extra training and when you have trained it sufficiently you will find that the whole chord change gets much quicker and smoother. Do this exercise for a set number of times for example 30 times.

Practice these steps every day and make it a key part of your practice routine. The great thing is about them is that you can do this silently any time so keep the guitar within reach so you can practice this as often as possible. The best way is of you to practice this in small chunks often rather than a long practice session rarely! You can focus on two or three chords at the same in the exercise but stick with it until you see progress. Only after you are much happier with the speed of the change you can bring in the strumming hand into the equation. I hope that you find this article useful and happy strumming!

This Article was written by professional guitar teacher, trainer and mentor Joseph Bailey who owns Kent Guitar School in North Kent, England. If you live in Gravesend, Dartford, Meopham or Maidstone and are looking to make some serious progress and have much more fun on your guitar then get it touch to arrange your free consultation lesson today.