Mastering Chord Changes

Now that you've got chords down - learn the best way to get to the next one!

So you've learned a few chords now. Excellent.

You've probably noticed some changes - maybe you're holding your fork like a C Major Chord?

Yeah, we've all been there buddy.

Learning chords is fundamental - so I'm glad you're there. But its fundamental because you need chords to play a song. Of course, you'll need more than one chord to do this. And you'll need to play those multiple chords in rhythm, in time, and without exerting too much effort.

Sound like a lot?

It's not. Once you learn how to change chords, your fingers will essentially program the technique in to your body. This is called muscle memory and it's going to be a good friend to you for a while.


All Together Now: The Let No Finger Linger Policy

So here's where you say - "just tell me the best way to change from an Em to Dm."

Can't do it. Sorry.

It's not that I won't do it. I can offer you some tips later on it. But for now, you should find the best way to change chords on your own.

Yes, I'm giving you a longer leash on this one.

Though, not too long. And if you don't want the leash - watch out Chord Changing Video. Pay particular attention to how she handles her fingers as she changes from chord to chord.

This is an extract of StringNinja

You should watch the video. Then practice those techniques. Here's what you have to keep in mind.

Move as few fingers as possible. This is big. The more fingers you move the longer it's going to take to change chords. And while the fraction of a second, or fraction of extra effort, may not matter too much the first time, it snowballs from there.

You'll change chords dozens of times each song. Multiply that. It gets to be too much. You want to be efficient. Efficiency is the best way to learn guitar fast.

You know what we call those that move too many fingers? Dramatic. Drama queens. Doing ballet moves in between each chord. Good luck with that! Break a leg, err, a finger!

Don't let a single finger linger either. You'll want to keep your fingers close to one another, and close to the fretboard.

But that's not all for the fingers. You'll also want to think about, at least when you start, using shared finger techniques.

The premise is simple: if you're going to change to a different chord, and that new chord has a finger playing the same note as before, why move it?

Your end goal in switching chords is to eliminate unnecessary movements.

Let me repeat that:

Your end goal in switching chords is to eliminate unnecessary movements.

There. Make it as simple as possible. So if a finger doesn't have to move, don't move it. It will only make the switching processs easier.

Shared fingers are a blessing, and they certainly make certain chords into favorites to change to and others into enemies.

All Together Now: The Rhythm Party

You want your fingers to be in tune with one another. Best friends. You want them all on the same page.

If you want to learn guitar fast, you've got to get your fingers to work as a team. They'll all do what they have to do separately, but for the same team in the end. Team You.

Why? Because you need to play all the notes at the same time. The fingers have to their notes simultaneously, so you'll want them acting in unison.

And, as long as we're at it, unison is important. Rhythm is key.

Unfortunately, that key is one of the harder things to master. I'm sure you've heard someone say "people are just born with rhythm" and it's kind of true. There are some talented souls that can just stay in rhythm without trying too hard.

Maybe you're one of them. Congrats. But you're probably like me and wonder why the rhythm fairy never stopped at your house.. So you gotta practice.

It's very difficult to prescribe a good method for learning rhythm. You can find some tips in our strumming and rhythm mechanics article. That will help. Our StringNinja course is designed to help you get rhythm done completely, though. That's really the best way you're gonna learn it. And once you learn rhythm, it'll open some MEGA doors for you.


Gotta Crawl Before You Walk!

For now, here's my biggest tip: use a metronome. Keep a beat so your fingers can't delay things. Get all the fingers down.

A metronome is an automatic rhythm maker. It's like a stoplight for your fingers. Go. Stop. Go.

you get it. But you can set the metronome on an extra slow pace when you're learning. Gradually, you can increase it until you've got a steady and helpful rhythm.

And having a set rhythm to play off will only help with establishing that almighty muscle memory.

And that's the end goal here. So when you play you don't even have to think about what chord your playing, or what chord you're changing to. You'll just do it.

But that's down the line. You've got a little ways to go. Stick with it though. Practice. And sign up to our free 5 day course to get going even faster.

OR if you REALLY want to kickass, try StringNinja. Our specially designed teaching program has a big focus on changing chords and by the end of it you'll be changing chords as easily as a balloon pops with a needle!

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