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Can't Switch Chords Quickly

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Hey Everyone,

I've been playing guitar for 2 months now and I'm practising simple songs, and some of Kirk's simpler finger picking songs... but I've noticed that I find myself having to always slow down my playing to a really slow pace 'cuz I can never switch chords easily and quickly enough. I come from the piano :unsure: I played that a lot - are there any piano players with some advice? or just anyone?

Thanks:smilinguitar:

~Matt

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Give it time. I played keyboards and chord changes are MUCH easier. It will come in time, just keep at it. It's all about muscle memory and when it happens it's pretty cool. All of a sudden you make a clean change. Of course, you then mess up the rest of the song cause your in shock. ;)

Wayne

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Hey Everyone,

I've been playing guitar for 2 months now and I'm practising simple songs, and some of Kirk's simpler finger picking songs... but I've noticed that I find myself having to always slow down my playing to a really slow pace 'cuz I can never switch chords easily and quickly enough. I come from the piano :unsure: I played that a lot - are there any piano players with some advice? or just anyone?

Thanks:smilinguitar:

~Matt

Try this exercise: Choose two or three chords. Say, start with G, D and C. Switch between them without regard to any rhythm or strumming pattern. Just simple down strokes. But don't play the downstrokes until you're sure that you have formed and are playing the chord cleanly. Start slow, work up some speed. Don't go any faster at all until you have formed the chord and are playing cleanly. Work up speed in switching. Get to where you can switch quickly. But never advance in speed unless you play the chord cleanly!

Like Wayne says, it's all muscle memory and it takes time. Before you know it, you'll have no trouble switching chords in time with the songs you're learning, and you'll even find that it's easy because you learned to switch between them much faster than any song.

Now choose three other chords and begin again.

Have fun!

Steve

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The good news: You don't have any problem we haven't all experienced.

The bad: It does just take time, and a little thought about technique. Practice, practice and then some practice. Try thinking carefully about how each finger moves for a change and then place them deliberately, in sequence. Just like your keyboard. Accuracy first, then build up speed with practice.

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Yep, what everybody else said. Quick chord changes will only come with plenty of practice.....you have to build up the "muscle memory" in your hands. It takes time, but as long as you keep at it, it will come. We've all been through it!

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I've been playing for about 7 months and it just takes time and practice!! One day you'll realize it's all coming together! I'm trying to learn barre chords now.........they sound really bad.. think I need some of that hand putty to strengthen my fingers or something. They sound really tinny and just awful!!!!:eek:

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Practice is the number one ingredient when starting out. The second key ingredient when just getting going is knowing the song inside and out. That way you are able to think ahead and get ready to make that change.

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hmmm....ive been playing for about a year now and

im not that good but

when i was beginnig i was having a really hard time too and still am...but something that reallly helped me was i just picked a few simple chords like G, Em, C, D

and play those over and over again

and pretty soon it will just become muscle memory

and it'll be a no brainer

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Oh yeah, After a year and a half, I'm still not guaranteed a clean chord and am not confident to play to a group but I have progressed enough to make me happy. That's your bottom line, do YOU like what you are doing. :)

Wayne

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I'm having the same sort of problem as Matt. I've only been playing for a month or so but I've been practising every night. Progress is slow but I am progressing.

I know a few people who play guitar and it appears nearly everyone struggles to start with but the key is practice, practice and more practice.

Also having this site is a real bonus so thanks to everyone for the tips and advice.

Cheers

Tony, UK

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Hi,

As everybody has said, it just takes time. Quite a lot of time. One annoying thing for beginners is discovering that “Easy Chords” and “Easy Songs” never actually are all that easy – except of course for the experienced player who told you they were easy. Nothing is easy when you first start out. Fortunately, things do pick up reasonably quickly if you put the time in.

There are also quite a few strategies that we can use when learning chord changes. Here are some of them:


  • 1. Get each chord nicely nailed before you start trying to do changes. A good way to start, once you’ve got the strings ringing cleanly is to lift the hand slightly off the neck and put it straight back down again, Repeat this many times, strumming as you do so, lifting a little higher each time. Your first ‘changes’ can even simply be away from the starting chord and back to it again
    2. Look for anchor points or shared patterns. Many common chord changes don’t need you to lift all your fingers off all the strings. Often you can leave one in position and swing the other fingers around it. This makes it much easier to land the change accurately. Also look out also for opportunities to slide a finger up or down a string and use it as an anchor point. Lastly, check for pattern repeats – sometimes part of your finger shape can be moved across and ‘re-used’ without totally reshaping your hand position.
    3. Make sure that you are keeping the neck steady. One reason that beginners can find it hard to land a chord easily is that the ‘landing ground’ moved when they took their hand off the neck! A strap can help, but just watching and being aware of movement is the first step.

Cheers,

Chris

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the best way i learned to change chords quickly was to go into a room turn the lights out and try to figure out the chords in the dark. its challanging but it got me where i needed to be.

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the best way i learned to change chords quickly was to go into a room turn the lights out and try to figure out the chords in the dark. its challanging but it got me where i needed to be.

Brilliant! Ok, I'd simply close my eyes, but I like that idea. I'll try that.

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Start practising switching between the easiest chords. Maybe just between only two chords, then three and so on.

Keep on practising. :smilinguitar:

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You've already discovered the secret. Slow chord changes!

Do just that...change chord shapes slowly. Lift your fingers from the fretboard when you change chords and change shapes slowly. 1...2...3...

Then when you're comfortable with that try changing shapes from chord 1 to chord 2 a little faster. Don't try to play a song, just go from chord 1 to chord 2.

Then go from chord 2 to chord 3. Then go from chord 1 to chord 3. Then go from chord 3 to chord 2. Then add chord 4, and so on, so that your fingers develop muscle memory.

Say the chord name out loud when you play it. Don't worry about how silly you may sound because it will soon become an unconscious movement.

Play with the music and chord progressions that sound good to you.

It will start to come together sooner if your 'playing around' a bit.

Give it a try and get back to us here on this thread.

Good luck!

Dan

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I've been trying this aswell, but I've not made any progress. I've been practising 9 chords (E, A, D, Em, Am, Dm, C, G, F) for months now, working my way through them in that order then (E, Em, C, A, Am, G, D, Dm, F), but I'm still rubbish and having alot of trouble with motivation. I tried practising a single chord over and over, lifting my fingers up together and placing them all down at once but I got bored very quickly. I was going to move on and learn another 9 chords then play through all 18 in sequence. I thought it would increase flexibility in my left hand if I was trying other positioning, but after reading about "muscle memory" I don't know what to do. Would anyone recommend moving onto learning new chords, or should I stick with the first 9 until I can change between them quickly and cleanly? Any advice would be very much appreciated. :)

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Are you practicing moving around the frets as in scales? I don't do actual scales, I just walk up and down and back and forth on the neck. I find this helps with chord shapes along with practicing the chords.

It sounds like your fingers are not yet independent but it will happen. As stated above, you do need to do the boring chord 1 to 2 3 to 4 movements. Try not to get discouraged, the greats practice for hours a day and also have to do all that boring stuff.

Wayne

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I'd recommend that you learn a couple of easy songs that use some of those chords and start mixing them into your playing. Endlessly hammering out chords would make me lose motivation too! Playing the songs will give you more of a "feel" and give you something interesting to do as you're practicing your fingering and chord changes.

In a similar thread I likened it to playing golf - if all I ever did was go to the driving range and hit ball after ball after ball, I'd quickly lose interest and consider it drudgery rather than fun - the enjoyment comes from getting out on the course and actually playing, and mixing some practice sessions in around it to keep improving.

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I've been trying this aswell, but I've not made any progress. I've been practising 9 chords (E, A, D, Em, Am, Dm, C, G, F) for months now, working my way through them in that order then (E, Em, C, A, Am, G, D, Dm, F), but I'm still rubbish and having alot of trouble with motivation. I tried practising a single chord over and over, lifting my fingers up together and placing them all down at once but I got bored very quickly. I was going to move on and learn another 9 chords then play through all 18 in sequence. I thought it would increase flexibility in my left hand if I was trying other positioning, but after reading about "muscle memory" I don't know what to do. Would anyone recommend moving onto learning new chords, or should I stick with the first 9 until I can change between them quickly and cleanly? Any advice would be very much appreciated. :)

Hi there,

Quick question. Do you know how many thousands of songs use those chords(or variations of them)? You are on the your way! Take a,d,and e. Strum them and make a song. Or e,a and b. Those are your blues chord patterns! Try G,em,C and D.

All I'm saying is mix it up and have fun

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Well, for me, it was about a year before I was able to proceed through for or five chords smoothly. Muscle memory is a real thing and someday it will just happen for you. You'll suddenly make a smooth progression and say "Wow!".

Then you take the next step. Just don't give up.

I used to have a beginner's book around here with two and three chord songs.

Can't find it tho'. Maybe some other members know some simple songs?

Kirk?

Good luck!

Dan

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I also found I learn chord positions better if I fine a song and practice it. However at first our instructer told us to just take the chord like G,C,D and strum an 8 count of each one in a sequence over and over.I would spend about 10 minutes just doing that on each chord progression I knew before I started with the songs. It seemed to help with muscle memory and also trianing the ear.:sweatdrop

Hey I like the idea of playing in the dark!! I hadn't thougth of that one!

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