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Getting Started Playing Chords

Getting Started Playing Chords

Making chords sound good can be one of the most challenging things to do when beginning to play the guitar. I have new students that come to me because despite trying to learn on their own, they can’t seem to get many things sounding right especially chords.We are going to start with some simple chords and chord progressions (progressions are the systematic order that chords follow in music).

First of all we need to talk about the left hand position for playing the guitar. The left hand thumb acts as a pivot point and should basically remain in about the middle of the back of the neck when holding the guitar. It should not hook over the top of the neck and act as a mechanism to hold your arm up.It should also remain in between the first to fingers and will pivot around as you change from chord to chord. The fingers of the left hand should be placed as close to the fret on the string you are playing, but not on top of the fret and should be curled so that you are on the tip of the fingers.

There are some exceptions to this the F Major chord being one of them as you have to lay your first finger flat to cover the first two strings. The other exception being Barre chords, where the first finger is laid across to cover more than one string. These types of chords will be covered later.We will begin with some simple open chords. Open chords are chords that use open strings (Strings that are not pressed down on with a finger). You can begin with the A7, D7 and E7 chords. (1st position chord PDF)

Begin by forming the chord making sure you are on your fingertips and on the correct strings and frets. Then pick each string of the chord separately one at a time, to make sure you are able to get each string to ring out. If you hear a dead string you are either leaning a finger into that string and touching it or you are not pressing on the string properly.

Try to adjust your fingers until you get all the strings to ring out. Be patient and spend some time strumming the whole chord after you get all the strings to sound good.Next we will practice moving from one chord to the next. I have attached a PDF file showing some basic exercises that I use with my beginner students.

These have proven to be the easiest chords to get started with and my students have had great success with these exercises.Strum each chord four times then go to the next chord and so on.

After you are comfortable doing this, use a metronome on a slow tempo (I usually start at 66 with my students) and strum each chord four times while leaving four clicks of the metronome to get to the next chord.

This forces you to switch to the next chord within a certain amount of time. Make sure you count out loud as you do this. There is a power tab file for exercise: basic chord exercises.

After you are comfortable moving with four beats between the chords then cut it to three and so on until you need no beats between the chords.

When you get down to one or two beats in between chords try keeping your strumming hand going with the metronome, even if you left hand fingers don’t quite get there in time.

This will help force your fretting hand fingers to get there in time.Well I hope these ideas help you with you playing I have had good success with them throughout my years of teaching.

Alan Darby
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