One of the challenges at the start when playing is changing of chords from one to another an keeping the transition smooth, It’s something that as a guitarist who’s played for 19 years I take for granted and for many of my lessons when I started teacher I would often say that to get faster at changing chords it’s just practise and will come with time. Although I think this is correct, it’s a bit of a lazy answer as there is a lot more to it than that. So here’s some tips to get your guitar chord changes quicker.
Learn The Chord Shapes First!
Make sure you can play the chord shapes with ease without having to look at a chord chart, I would suggest learning an easy song that contains only 3 – 4 chords and just focus on learning those. To help with this really visualize the shapes of the chords and where your fingers have to go.
Even try visual reminders the shapes such as the D chord kind of looks like the letter D and G chord looks a bit like the letter G.
You can also memorize them based on other chords, Em and E are just one note different, Am is the E shape up a string etc.
Keep Your Fingers Close To The Fretboard And Strings
The more you play guitar, you’ll realize that every little movement is valuable to playing efficiently. Keeping your fingers close to the fretboard and strings will mean less time between chords, it may only seem to save a fraction of a second but it’s amazing how helpful that small amount of time can have with changing your chords.
Start by playing a chord an moving to another keeping your fingers as close to the fretboard as possible (don’t worry about speed at the start).
Focus Just On the Chords And Where They Change
Start by playing the chord just once at the start of the bar (or where ever the chord lands in the bar) and only strum it once, then prepare to move to the next chord, don’t worry too much about your strumming hand at the moment just focus on playing the chords and where you have to move next.
Visualize The Next Chord
This ties in with the above tip. As you’re playing a chord try visualizing where the next chord is and where your fingers are going to land.
Start small with this, just strum a chord once at the start of the bar and while holding that chord shape visualize the next chord that’s coming up before you play it. Then strum that chord and continue the same for the next.
Keep A Look Out For Easy Chord Changes With Matching Notes And Pivot Notes
Some chords will share the same notes as other chords and depending on where they land in your chord progression this may be able to make your life a lot easier.
If there’s an Am chord and a C chord, notice that they are almost identical except for the 2nd fret on the G string an the 3rd fret on the A string, changing between these chords only involves moving your ring finger between these two notes while the others stay the same.
Also an E to an Am is the same shape but all the fingers moved up a string
And if you play your G chord with the 3rd fret on the B string, you can use this as a pivot note to go to a D
Do Chord Shape Drills
For example, play a C chord, then take the fingers off the fretboard, move all your fingers around, then make the C chord shape again, try this with any chord you want to learn. This will help in learning the chord positions.
Build The Chords From The Bottom Up
This is a great one for beginners to understand as I find some students focus on trying to get all there fingers in the chord position at the same time, try to build your chords from the bottom up (low string to high string).
When you’re playing a chord progression keep your strumming hand still playing the strumming pattern and don’t stop even if you’re struggling to get the chord shapes. Tie this in with the above example an build your chords from the bottom up and you’ll be on your way to a smoother transition between chords.
As mentioned at the start, changing chords is one of the challanges many guitarist face at the start, but I hope these above tips help can you to develop a smoother and quicker transitions between your chords. Did these tips help you? Is there anything I left out that’s helped you out along the way?