So you know a couple of chords but your having trouble making the chords, transitioning between the chords. And making them sound good. Well today all that can change with these 10 tips for learning guitar chords.
What are the tips for learning guitar chords:
In this article you are going to learn the secrets that will get you playing better sounding chords. Fretting hand technique. How to move from one chord to another and tips to make playing bar chords easier.
So if your ready to learn the secret sauce to make it easier to play chords then grab your guitar and lets get started.
Fretting Hand Technique
What exactly is fretting hand technique? Well first off when you play your guitar your using two hands. One hand is in charge of your picking and strumming. Which if you are right handed this is your left hand. Then you have your left hand also known as your fretting hand.
When you start out your hands are not used to working independently from each other. So strumming and fretting may seem foreign to you. This is normal, but the more you work with the guitar and practice it will soon get much easier for you.
Fretting hand technique – Technique is the mechanical aspect of performing. In this case we are reffering to fretting. So we are dealing with the technical skills that are needed to fret the guitar strings properly. source
When you are first learning how to play the guitar it is a good idea to learn these techniques properly from the start. So that you don’t have to make corrections later down the line. Which becomes a lot harder to do.
You may find that when you fret the strings trying to play a chord. That your fingers are flat on the guitar. And that the chord sounds like…, well bad.
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What is a Fret and How Does it Work
If you are not holding the strings properly with your fingers you can mute strings. When this happens the chord will not sound good and you will become frustrated. So lets get it right from the from the beginning.
On the neck of the guitar the metal bars “fret wires” go down the length of the neck of the guitar. When you push the string against the fret and play the string then there is a tone. Click this link If you want to learn about how many frets are on a guitar.
How to Hold Your Fingers When Playing a Chord
Here are some tips that will make the chord ring true.
First off you need to play on the tips of your fingers. If your not on the tips of your fingers a lot of strange noises can come from the chord. If you hold your hand out with the palm facing up and your elbow bent. Then curl your fingers up. So that they are pointing towards you. And look at your hand. You will see the tips of your fingers. And we will discuss your finger nails in a minute.
I can’t stress this enough, but if you are not playing on the tips your fingers, your fingers will touch other strings. When you are playing a chord. And some of the strings that are suppose to be ringing out are muted.
You have to be consciously thinking about the position of your fingers when you make a chord. When you place your fingers on the strings you need to curl your fingers at the first knuckle. And place the tip of your fingers on the strings of the guitar.
Position of Your Fingers on the Fretboard
Next thing your going to want to work on is where to place your fingers to make a chord. As we discussed the fret is the wire going down the neck of the guitar. But the nomenclature for playing a fret is the space between both wires. So if you were to start at the top of the neck. Between the nut and the first fret wire. The space in between is referred to when fretting as fret one. Then the space between the first fret and the second fret is to fret at the second fret. And so on and so forth.
When you are going to play one string or an entire chord. You want to place your fingers directly behind the fret. You can try this on your guitar. If you place your finger at the G note on the 6th string. the 3rd fret. Place your finger behind the fret. And play the string. If you are pressing down on the string properly. You can hear a tone. Which is the G.
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Why is there a Buzzing Sound When I Play Chords
But now move your finger away from the back of the fret and play the string. It starts sounding different, not as clear. Move it even further away, and play the E string and you will start to hear a buzzing noise.
Let’s look at a C chord for example all your fingers need to be as close behind the fret as possible without touching the fret. If you touch the fret this will also deaden the sound being played.
Notice in the picture the fingers are curled at the first knuckle. The fingers are directly behind the frets.
Another thing that is kind of hard to explain and that is; How hard to press on the strings. You need to press down on the strings with enough force to get the strings to ring out properly. But not so hard that you are going to heart your fingers. With time you will know how much pressure you need to make the right sound. And with time mussel memory will work for you and it will be second nature.
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Can Your Arm Help You Make a Chord?
Speaking of a C chord. Do a quick little experiment with me. Grab your guitar and place your fingers on the fretboard as if you were going to make a C chord. Now Take your elbow on your fretting hand and move it out away from your body. What just happened? Your C chord completely changed directions on the fretboard.
Your fingers are almost parallel to the neck of the guitar. But when you move your arm out. Now your fingers even though they are positioned to play the C chord. Your hand is now vertical to the neck of the guitar. Why?
Because the mechanics of your hand, wrist and arm are such. That the way they are connected and work together you have to keep your arm in close to your body to play the C chord.
All this to say that when you are making chords you need to keep your arm and elbow in against your body. Now it doesn’t need to be tight. It just needs to be in so that making chords will be so much easier.Join Our Mailing List and Take 10% Off!
Holding the Guitar With Your Fretting Hand
All of your life you pick up things with your hands. So you are used to grabbing things. Like a glass off water or a tennis ball, or even a bat. You grasp with all your fingers and palm the object, which is natural. Even when you pick up your guitar this is how you grasp it. So that you don’t drop it on the floor. But when you are playing the guitar you don’t want the neck to be in the palm of your hand.
Let’s look at the c chord again and break it down. When your fingers are in position to play the C chord. Or any chord for this matter. You need to leave room at the bottom of the neck. In other words the palm of your hand should not be touching the neck of the guitar.
To accomplish this your fingers are curled, so that you are playing on the tips of your fingers. You need to place your fingers behind the frets. Your arm and elbow should be in next to your rib cage. And your hand should be bent a little at the wrist in the perfect position so that your hand is not touching the bottom of the guitar neck.
This brings me to the next matter and that is your thumb.
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Where Should Your Thumb Be Positioned on the Finger Board?
When you are playing chords it is a lot easier to play them when you can’t see your thumb. I mean your thumb should be on the back side of the neck. Not hanging out over the top of the neck. Next to the 6th string. You see when your thumb is over the top of the neck of the guitar. Your hand naturally is moved up closer to the bottom of the guitar neck. This flattens your hand position and makes it harder to play chords.
The lower your thumb is positioned on the back of the neck, the easier it is to play a chords. First off when you keep your thumb in the middle of the guitar neck. The position of your hand is lower so you are able to position your wrist and hand properly. So that it is not touching the neck. Then your fingers are automatically going to be further away from the strings. Which will allow you to curl your fingers properly. This in tern will allow you to play on the tips of your fingers.
Another thing about your thumb. When you first start out and you are learning to play the guitar your hands are week. Because they are not used to being put through the work out. That you are asking them to do when playing the guitar. Sometimes you can use your thumb to overcome the lack of strength ion your hand.
And that is by using your thumb and fingers like a clamp. If your thumb is flat on the back of the neck you don’t have very much pushing ability in your thumb. But if you have your thumb up at the tip. Now if you need to “clamp” down to play a chord. You are able to push with your thumb, and this forces your fingers against the strings. And the strings against the frets. Which allows you to play even the hardest chord, and make it sound good.
Looking at Chord Charts
I remember looking at chord charts when I first started and I really found it difficult. Looking at dots and figuring out what finger goes where. If you need to know how to read a chords take a look at this quick resource.
How to Move From One Chord to the Next
Now that you have the tips on how to make a chord. And by consciously taking those tips and implementing then every time you make a chord. You will be able to make the chords. And also make them sound great. Then after a while of taking the time to fret the chord properly it will become second nature. You won’t even think about it you will just do it. That’s mussel memory.
But how do you go from one chord to the next? This is called chord transitioning. First off when you are playing a chord progression. Let’s say your going to play a G C and the D chord. So you know the three chords your playing. The first thing before learning how to move between them. You need to know how to make these chords. Without thinking about it. If someone says play a C chord. You know right off the bat how to make the c in the open position. And that goes with the G and D chord to.
So we will assume that you know the chords. If not start learning them. You need to learn where to place your fingers first. Okay your strumming the G chord and you know that the next chord coming up is the C chord. You need to in a split second be thinking. Before you actually need to make the move to the C chord.
Think to yourself, Okay the C chord is next. Visualize in your mind making the C chord. And know that on the 4th beat your hand needs to be on the strings making the C chord. This seems like a lot to do in a split second. But that is how fantastic the brain works.
First off after you learn how to make the C chord or any chord. There is a thing called mussel memory. That is when you do something over and over again and your mussel. In this case hand and fingers automatically can do it. Without you even really thinking about. Placing your fingers on the A D and B strings at the right frets. It’s like autopilot.
So all you need to know that in this example the song is in 4/4 timing which means 1 2 3 4 beats. So once you get to the fourth beat your hand and fingers need to be on the C chord.
Related Article: How to play guitar in different positions on the neck.
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How to Practice Going from One Chord to The Next
Start With the G chord. Take your hand and place it on the fingerboard to make the G chord. Then remove your hand and put your hand down by your side. Then take your hand and make the G chord again on the neck of the guitar. Speed is no issue, your trying to get your fingers on the right strings. And with good technique like we discussed previously. Then take the C Chord and do the Same. After that work on placing the D Chord on the fretboard.
You can test how accurately you are positioning your fingers. By taking your pick and picking one string at a time. After you have made the chord.
Here’s a tip to practice going from one chord to the next. Don’t worry about your strumming hand. Don’t strum or pick a note. Simply concentrate going from one chord to the next. As in the example before your going from the C chord to the D chord. So what you need to do is position your hand to make the C chord. Then move to the D chord. And once you get to the D chord. Look at where your fingers are. And then place your fingers on the fretboard to make a C chord again.
Look at where your fingers are and then move to the D chord. Your not worried about moving fast. You are concentrating on getting your fingers onto the correct strings at the D chord.
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Starting out treat each chord the same way. First use the chord chart to learn the shape of the chord and where to place your fingers. Then practice with your fretting hand placing your fingers on the fretboard to play the strings.
Use your strumming hand to pick each string to check your fretting hand technique. If the strings are not ringing out. Then you have a problem with your technique. Look at the chord to diagnose where the problem is.
Make the correction and strum one string at a time to see that the problem is resolved. Then make the chord again. Learn the chord shapes like the back of your hand before you move on to chord transitioning.
Practice moving from one chord to the next before working with two hands. To learn more about playing guitar chords. And learning the secrets that took me years to learn. You can take the shortest route to playing chords and guitar with my Course Guitar Bootcamp. Grab the sale price now.
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