I got this interesting little email the other day…
“Hi Dan-I’m not sure if I’m fingering the G chord correctly. I place my ring and pinkie fingers on the high E and B strings first, sort of as a guide, then place the middle and index fingers. I thought that as I got faster, I would be placing all the fingers at once, but I’m not. Any suggestions?”
It’s a really good question.
You see, when it comes to learning how to play chords and change between them smoothly, there are two things at play.
Firstly, you have to learn the chord shape and train your fingers to play it.
Secondly, you have to get to the point your fingers can all land on the chord at the same time.
It would be great if we could merge steps 1 and 2 together, but in reality, most people find that too hard.
I mean, at first, it’s hard enough just learning a chord shape, getting your fingers in position and being able to play it cleanly.
Thinking ahead about step 2 (landing the fingers on the strings at the same time) is hard.
…But at some point, you need to consciously adjust the muscle memory to start to land all the fingers together.
This is really tough, but if you’re at the point where you can a play chord cleanly but it takes a lifetime to change to it…
Here is a tip that will help.
- Play the chord and ensure each note is clear
- Remove the fingers and make a fist with the fretting hand
- Place the fingers back on the fretboard to make the chord shape, but do not let any finger land on a string on its own
- Try to “hover” each finger over the correct string/fret and then, bam, place them all down at the same time
- You can reach across with your picking hand to help align the fingers before landing them
This takes lots of focused attention, but a few minutes per day of this will help.
Breathe and relax and be aware, at first your fingers will do all sorts of crazy movements, but you will get there.
Is this easy?
Yet if you try it 10 times each day for a chord, it will help.
The reason why is that you will slowly but surely be training all the little muscles in the hand to work together and NOT against each other, which is often the case.
It’s all about building up positive muscle memory, but 100% focus and precision are key.
You will get there with chord changes – everyone does if you stick with them.
…And when practised with focus, you can build up some good muscle memory quicker than you may think.
I’ve got a short eBook full of chord-changing tips.
Some are a little unusual, but mighty effective.
…And as they range from super simple to a little more intricate, you’ll find a really good variety to help.
Enjoy your practice day.
P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.