5 Chord Changing Tips

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The biggest hurdle to overcome in the early stages of playing guitar for most players is changing between chords in time. In the long term you should be aiming for the following:

  • Being able to move between shapes without any gap in time
  • Clear sounding chords, with no fret buzz or missing strings
  • Moving between chords without having to look at the left hand
  • Moving all fingers simultaneously, rather than one by one.

When you start out with your first 3 or 4 chords these goals feel a long way off, but they are achievable with the correct approach to practice. Here are my top 5 tips:

  1. Figure out the most logical way to change between chords and then stick to this way. This is essential, as your ability to play chords smoothly is thanks to muscle memory. If you alter the way you play a chord change each time you pick up the guitar, then that muscle memory won’t even get started. My main tip here is to try and put down the fingers which are on the bass strings first (E,A,D). This is because these are the first strings that you are like to hit with the right hand. It is then a case of analysing chord changes for the most logical movement. Ask yourself, are any fingers close to where they need to be for the next change? Are fingers already on the correct frets, but perhaps not strings? sometimes fingers are already in the correct shape/formation and ‘just’ need to move.
  2. Separate out the hands: you can start this by simply moving between chord shapes without playing them. This seems like a strange thing to do at first, but it allows your brain to focus solely on the movement and good finger placement. When I started out, I used to do a lot of this. As it is silent practice it can be done any time of day too!
  3. When moving between chords don’t lift your fingers away from the fretboard. Try to keep them as close as possible as this will minimise the time to find the next chord. To start with you may find that the fingers involuntarily jump away from the fretboards in anticipation of the chord change, so this is really about training the fingers and you may have to go very slowly at first.
  4. Practice playing in time in a gradual way. I do this exercise a lot with students. It goes like this: either with a metronome or drum track (at about 60 bpm) play your chord of choice 4 times to the beat. Then leave a clear gap of 4 beats/clicks. This is your time to move to the next chord. Once you can do this, reduce the gap between the chord to 3 beats and then 2 and then try without a gap at all. This is a great way to see progress.
  5. Visualise chord shapes/changes when away from the guitar. To reinforce your memory, try visualising chord changes when away from the guitar. This could be whilst walking, waiting for an appointment, free time when you can get in some guitar practice, without a guitar! To do this you need to clearly visualise the fingers, where they are and how they move neatly to the next chord.

There are other things that you can do, but I find these most effective. If there was a sixth tip , it would be don’t give up! Every guitar player has difficulty with this. To get beyond this stage try not to think negatively about how difficult it is, instead take a problem solving approach and try to look at it logically.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all fellow guitar players out there! I always find this time of year is a great time to take stock of progress and thrash out a new practice routine. Part of my teaching involves guiding students on how to practice effectively. A lot of musicians learn the hard way! Less can sometimes be more, and more often than not we find ourselves running over material we’re already comfortable with or rushing through new material. If you’re looking for guitar lessons in the Stroud (Gloucestershire) area I have limited spaces for 2014, so get in touch! Best of luck achieving your musical goals in 2014.

Guitar for Sale

Before it heads onto Ebay, thought I’d put it out there that I am selling one of my guitars.

I’m selling my Hofner H17 contemporary series archtop. I’ve had this for 2 years now, and have only gigged it a handful of times. It’s in fantastic condition and is currently setup with flatwounds.  It’s in a stunning red finish. Below is a picture.  I am looking for £350 for this guitar. For further info email me at: stroudguitar@gmail.com

If you’d like to try before you buy you are more than welcome to pop round.  I do teach jazz guitar, so if you’re into jazz in the Stroud/Dursley/Nailsworth area then feel free to enquire about lessons too.

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Local Guitar Shops: Dursley

In my recent post about local guitar shops I neglected to include Intersound Guitars in Dursley. I’ve not managed to make it over there yet, but heard good things about the shop from students. Their website is: http://intersoundguitars.co.uk/

In this age of internet shopping I think buying a guitar is one item you can’t buy without trying. You need to feel the playability, size of the instrument and also the sound. If you are looking for guitar lessons in the Stroud/ 5 valleys area in Gloucestershire and need some advice on what guitar to get as a beginner then I offer this kind of advice to students. Most guitar shops are friendly places and will also offer help and guidance when buying your first guitar!

New Year Offer

New year offer

Guitars make great Xmas gifts, but it can be a little bit daunting knowing where to start if you’re a beginner. I’ve decided to extend my Xmas offer for the full month of January. Whether you’re a  beginner, intermediate or advanced player – my offer is 3 lessons for the price of 2 and designed to help kick start your guitar playing in 2013. I teach rock,blues and jazz and tailor my lessons to what you want to learn. Lessons take place in my music room at my home in Kings Stanley ( inbetween Stroud and Stonehouse).

For further info please call: 07922 159 574 or email at: stroudguitar@gmail.com

Look forward to hearing from you and helping you achieve your musical goals for 2013!

Andy