Practice on chords – tips and tools

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

Memorizing chords

The amounts of possible chord shapes on the guitar are enormous. As soon as you press down several strings on the fretboard, you form a chord even if you may be unaware of its name. If we take the 12 first frets, we could multiply it by six, which is the number of strings, and we have 72 positions. 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 alternatively 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. Still, it would grant you much by learning more than one version of some chords. To begin with, you should learn at least one open position 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, your need and your memory.

Some help to memorize chords will come from recognizing 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 changing

After a while you will be able to shift between some chords without effort thanks to your muscle memory. On the other hand, chord changes you are not adjusted to will go slower. This can result in an 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 – F#m – B – A7 – E

These are just suggestions, you could easily come up with your own progression. The advantage with this kind of practice is that you are forced to play progressions you in other cases may have avoided.  

Techniques for chord changing

When it comes to chord changing, 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 D7


Read more about shifting between chords.

Portable practice tool

A last tip is portable pocket guitar practice tool gadget, a portable guitar chord trainer that you can use for practise. 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 can order it on Amazon.

See all articles about guitar.

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