Guitar chords can be a serious pain to learn. Confusing finger placements or tired fingers can keep you from practicing as long as you should. No worries, that’s perfectly okay. Everyone starts out where you are right now. In this lesson I will outline a few easy ways to learn guitar chords. There are no fancy tricks or shortcuts. As with anything worth learning, guitar takes practice.
1. Press & Release the Chord
The first trick I want to teach you I call the “press and release” technique. For this technique you place your fingers down in the shape of the chord, applying enough pressure for all the notes to sound clearly. Then, without losing the chord shape, lift your fretting fingers about 1-2″ up off of the fretboard. Pause a second, then repeat. (Creative name, right?)
Do this about a dozen times, or while you are watching TV, and soon these chords will become second nature. The reason this happens is due to muscle memory. Basically, you’re training your fingers to naturally play the chords through repetition.
2. Learn Guitar Chords While Watching TV
This next technique works well with the previous one. One of the main questions I get sent to me is “how can I smoothly transition between guitar chords”? This is the ticket to that particular train. The press & release technique built the initial muscle memory.
Practicing while focusing on something else (i.e. TV or a movie) helps drill these chords into your subconscious, making them second nature. Eventually, after I’d say about a week of regular practice time, you should be able to transition between chords quite easily.
3. Visualize Yourself Playing!
This next technique I usually teach students for learning difficult guitar solos or more advanced techniques. However, it’s never too early to learn! Also, if you learn now, your ability to visualize will be much stronger when the time comes to learn Panama. ?
Here’s what you do: Watch what you are trying to learn. In this case, you would watch a video of somebody playing the chord you can’t play. Find it on YouTube or somewhere.
Attempt playing it yourself so you can at least feel the specific sensation from the chord. Then close your eyes and see yourself playing the chord. Visualize your fingers placed on your guitars fretboard, and your hand strumming the strings on your guitar. Really try to put yourself in that vision.
This technique is also quite powerful with chord transitions. The stronger you get your imagination going with this, the more effective it will be.
If you already know how to play certain chords (Em, G and Dm for example) but can’t string them together smoothly, this is exactly what you should be doing. Picture yourself stringing each chord together effortlessly. Try and focus in on your fretting hand within that vision. See the different movements; Which fingers move? Which ones can you keep put to make the transition easier?
To recap, the 3 techniques are:
– Press & Release
– Practice while distracted (TV, Movie, Just hangin out talking to friends…)
Another question I’ve been asked frequently are what practice tools I believe are worth while and which are useless. More specifically the grip building tools available. Personally, I don’t believe they are all that helpful. One is much better off building the strength to press the strings down on the real instrument. However, there are some tools out there that will make learning chords easier. Tools that allow you to practice chord shapes in any time, place or situation. Another big plus is if you can do so quietly.
I hope this lesson will make it easier for you to learn guitar chords. As always, it will take effort on your part and there are bound to be some frustrations at first. Don’t worry, though my friends. Just stay focused, pay close attention to your progress, not your mistakes. Soon you will learning to play any song you wish.
Have a question? Stuck with a particular technique or chord? Feel free to leave me any feedback below. I’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.
I created a video for this lesson to show you everything I am going to talk about, but the audio is out of sync so I’ll have it uploaded as soon as I can figure out how to fix it!