Practice on chords – tips and tools

Here are some tips on how you could practice on chords including a cool tool gadget that can be used for the purpose.

Memorizing chords

The amounts of possible chord shapes are enormous on the guitar. As soon as you press down several strings on the fretboard you form a chord even if you may be unaware of the name on it. If we take the 12 first frets, we could multiply it by six which is the number of strings. That gives us 72 positions on the first twelve frets. On these positions, we could use one to four fingers to form different chords.

And if you don’t think that leads to many enough, you could add the possibilities from alternate tunings.
There is, of course, no reason to learn every possible chord on the guitar. It would take too long time, and wouldn’t be worth it. You do not need to know eight ways to play a G minor, for example. Yet, it could grant you much by learning more than one version of some chords. To begin with, you should learn both the open positions and the barre positions for the most common chords.


To summarize: you can’t memorize all chords so instead you have to be selective. How many you will know depends on how often you play and your memory.

Some help to memorize chords are to recognize the similarities between different categories. For example, major and minor chords are often very alike, and in many cases there’s only slight difference consisting of fingers movement a fret to the right or left on one string.

Practice on chord changes

You may notice that after a while you manage to shift between some chords without effort and this is because your muscle memory. Chord changes you are not adjust to will however be slower. This can result in a approach where you avoid some chord changes, but in that case you miss opportunities to enrich your guitar playing.

Here are some exercises for practice on chords (you may look at the pictures below first to learn some methods for shifting):

G – Em – C – Am


G – C – D – C – G – Bm – Am – Bm – G


Dm – Bb – C – F – C7 – G7 – Bb7 – F7 – A7 – E7


G – D/F# – Em7 – Bm7 – D7 – G – Cmaj7 – Dm7 – G7 – Fm# – B – A7 – E

These are just suggestions, you could easily come up with your own progression. You advantage with doing these kind of practice is that you are forced to play progressions you otherwise may avoided.  

Techniques for chord changes

When it comes to chord changes the rule of thumb is economy: move only the fingers that must be moved and move them to near positions.  Here are four examples:

Chord diagrams

Change from G to Em

Chord diagrams

Change from G to C (given that fingerings without index finger is used on the G chord)

Chord diagrams

Change from C to Am

Chord diagrams

Change from C to F

 

Read more about shifting between chords.

Portable practice tool

A last tip is Bestmaple Portable Pocket Guitar Practice Tool Gadget, a portable guitar chord trainer that you can train on. It’s also silent and therefore you can exercise without disturbing anyone.

Guitar chord trainer gadget

It’s not a product you will find in most musician stores, but you could order it on Amazon.

See all articles about guitar.

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