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Techniques for playing guitar chords

By Alexis, published on 17/05/2017 Blog > Music > Guitar > All You Want to Know about Playing Guitar Chords

Guitar training is an excellent idea for the beginner musician, as it’s the perfect instrument for playing and imitating our favorite pieces of music quickly.

Plus, as soon as you’ve mastered the guitar playing basics, it’s easy to improvise. Even for absolute beginners!

These foundations consist of knowing scales and basic chords, and reading notes and tablatures. Basic guitar lessons are very helpful at learning the basics and hopefully getting a little music theory thrown in!

Whether it’s a major chord, minor chord, seventh chord, harmonic chord, or even a pentatonic scale over a chord (that’s a mouthful!), chords are an essential part of your guitar and ear training.

Since the neck and fretboard are central guitar components, it’s vital to know how to correctly place one’s fingers, strum the strings and to play a chord progression.

Once you’ve achieved this, you can officially profess to play the guitar!

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Progressive training for learning the chords

For the beginner guitarist especially, guitar training is anything but easy: strings make our fingers ache, our right hand doesn’t quite coordinate as it should with the left, and what can we say about all those bar chords that seem impossible to learn while keeping in tune!

Whether you have a brand new guitar or play in vintage style, for beginners who want to learn to play the guitar, we recommend getting a tuner, learning guitar scales and how to read music and perform techniques like fingerpicking. In addition, discover the basic guitar chords. Moreover, you must to learn to play chords in a progression so that your overall playing becomes fluid and in tune. And most importantly, gaining fluency will help ease the pain at the tip of your fingers!

Fortunately, you can find guitar tabs and chord charts for known songs on the Internet and in specialized magazines with which to you train yourself. In no time at all you’ll be able to learn easy songs and arpeggios, and go on to riff or do guitar licks like Jimi Hendrix and play your own solos!

Before this however, the first step will be learning to succeed at playing two chords together without losing the guitar rhythm. Once you’ve mastered that you’ll need to multiply these efforts to play a music piece!

But how? Here are some guitar for beginners hints.

Finding common points between the chords

Identify the chords and know them well.

Learn the different between an F chord, E minor chord and a C major chord. This will help teach you fingering techniques and how to play confidently.

For optimal sequences between two or more chords, you must first locate the common points they may have.

  • When two consecutive chords have one or more fingers in common: this could facilitate the placement of your hand along the frets without having to move all your fingers.
  • When the position between two chords only shifts by one or several sections: this means that finger positioning doesn’t change, you simply have to move your hand several sections.

Play a tune correctly using simple chords. Play a tune correctly using simple chords.

  • When the position of the chord is moved by one fret or several strings: here too, no need to move your fingers one by one because your hand will move itself according to the number of necessary strings.
  • When two chords that follow each other are in the same order: try to keep your fingers grouped to position them rapidly.
  • When certain notes are common but the placement of the fingers doesn’t match: change the placement of the fingers on one of the chords to give the impression that the two chords have several fingers in common.
  • When there is no common point between the chords: unfortunately there are no shortcuts to take in this scenario, you’ll have to memorize how to place the two chords individually in order to play them fluidly in a sequence while reading the tablatures well and strumming with your other hand.

Why do this?

If you study the different chords that you must play and string together, you’ll learn to make the most of these common points. With practice, you’ll be able to move your entire hand without moving your fingers and effortlessly improve the fluidity of your playing.

An exercise for locating your chords optimally

If some of your fingers stay in the same place between two chords, try to maintain them perfectly identically while you shift all the others.

If you have to shift the entire position, train yourself to keep the fingers in their position even if you need to release your hand: the aim of the exercise is to position a chord, whichever it is, in space, without putting your left hand on the neck.

Thus, thanks to this simple exercise, your hand will learn to anticipate your fingers, increasing your flexibility and fluidity.

Break down a movement

If your two chords contain empty strings, you can play notes that are already available without even putting down your fingers.

Where does that index finger and ring finger go again? If you learn to analyze your movement, you’ll also know at once if notes can be played without having to place other fingers.

You’ll gain time and move between your chord progressions more naturally.

Confidently go from one chord to the next

Stringing together two chords necessitates an average of 6 small steps that you can break down according to your level.

First, learn all your chords by heart so you can next train yourself on one chord progression in particular.

Learn your chords to play the guitar naturally! Learn your chords to play the guitar naturally!

Be patient and practice your guitar! It’s impossible to learn to change and string together chords in one time only, even by taking an online guitar lesson.

Here is a breakdown of a method:

  • Form your first chord with your left hand.
  • Slowly change your position to form the second chord.
  • Observe how your fingers are positioned, asking if there are two common points between the chords, whether the fingers cross over each other, and if there are some that don’t change positions.
  • Go from the first to the second chord on the guitar, then do make the opposite gesture, going from the second towards the first, softly and slowly: your fingers must stay as relaxed as possible all while performing a minimum of movement. It’s important to pull off these “glissandos” between chords in a slow, exaggerated manner in order to build up muscle in your fingers. Most importantly, it will help you form the habit of the finger positioning. From there, you’ll be able to increase the rhythm and speed of your succession like a crescendo.
  • Repeat this step 20 times if you must, and even more if you need to: the aim is that this gesture becomes natural, instinctive, while you are at ease and relaxed.
  • Now, the last step consists in carrying out this entire exercise. There’s one catch: you must pluck your guitar strings with your right hand, in order to hear the strings ring. To verify if the sound is in tune, play each string alone to locate and study the sound.
  • This will help you play arpeggios!

Tricks and advice for doing a chord progression

Regular Practice

Of course, to arrive at stringing together the chords like an expert, à la Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan or Ben Harper, if there is but one piece of advice to follow, it would be to train regularly.

Adopt Ben's guitar style! Adopt Ben’s guitar style!

What do we mean by this? How long should you practice your guitar to achieve a fluid playing style? Professional guitarists recommend daily practice or every 2 days from 10 to 15 minutes so that gestures become automatic and so that your muscles “memorize” the chords and finger placement. You’ll quickly learn the difference between terms like open chords and major chords.

The support of a guitar instructor

If you don’t manage to motivate yourself or succeed at making chord progression, ask a guitar instructor for guidance. He or she will provide sound advice via a private lesson or guitar course. Maybe you can even find free guitar lessons with a friend?

The guitar teacher will show you if you are holding yourself wrong or correct any bad habits you may be taking on.

Learn to string your chords together with a professional! Learn to string your chords together with a professional!

Having a guitar professor allows you to get an immediate return on your fingerstyle, playing and practice: he or she will be your mirror, considerably enriching your training.

Keep the rhythm

Rhythm is an ultra-important element for playing the guitar well – whether you play rock, rhythm, blues or jazz guitar. Notably, it’s vital to not lose the rhythm when doing a chord progression.

Don’t slow down to change chords and learn to play with a metronome. This way, you won’t lose time analyzing your playing: you’ll learn to play at the correct tempo while placing your chords where they should be.

Once you master the two chords and your placements appear correct, use a timer, and try to do it as many times as you can in upscale and downscale movements on your guitar neck. Next stop on your path to learn guitar: fourth chords and fifth chords (or power chords) and riffs!

Always privilege quality over quantity: try to do 5 correct chord progressions (of 15 sequences) in 1 minute with a crisp sound.

Pay attention to your breathing

We are particularly referring to noticing your breathing during the split-second moment in your chord progression when you let the empty strings resonate, allowing you to pull off your sequence as it should be.

This “respiration” must always come before the chord change and more precisely on the eighth note that precedes the first phase of the measure to come.

And if you want to get very technical: when you use your pick to string together two chords (often constructed on a pair of eighth notes), instead of playing two pick strokes, use the last part of the empty bar to correctly place your left hand.

Visualize the chord sequence

Learn to visualize the barre chord sequence.

Remember how you learned how to read music? Close your eyes and visualize your fingers in their correct position to form the chord to follow.

If you can hold this mental image, you’ll prepare your mind to undertake this gesture in complete flexibility.

If possible, use the fingers that don’t move to serve as a support, or as a pivot to carry out your chord change. Next step will be adding equipment like a capo or amps to heighten your chord progressions and guitar music playing.

You now know how to play guitar chords! You are well on your way to becoming an expert guitar player.

We hope you enjoyed these guitar tips. And don’t forget to keep practicing and keep your guitar playing motivation strong! Just picture yourself onstage playing those guitar solos!

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