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Changing Chords

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Active Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4
Topic starter  

I have been playing :?: acoustic guitar for 2 1/2 mos. I have a great Martin instrument so I cant blame that :( . I also take guitar lessons for 1/2 hour every week as well as check the internet for discussions and assistance.

My question to you good folks is how you go about physically making your chord changes. I have seen nothing anywhere that tell of this.
For example if going from D to G, which finger do you try to place down first? Whichever works for you? The E string finger since that is the first string to be played in the new chord?

My guitar teacher of course simply appears to put down all fingers at once, but at the beginning one has to train their fingers to go somewhere first.

Your comments would be greatly appreaciated, and the more applicable to changing all chords, the better.


Eminent Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 17

That is a very good question. And the only thing i can tell you is to practice with your chord changing everyday. I was like you at first too, but then one day i noticed I was doing like your teacher and placing my fingers at once. The only thing i would suggest is practice going back and forth. go real slow. do this as n exercise everday. pick the 7 common chords like A, Am, E, Em, D, G, C. And just practice changing between them. I'd start with just 2 of any combination then as it becomes easier go for 3, then 4 etc. This is how i approached it. And I didn't have a guitar teacher. and it seemed to work for me ok.

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Noble Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 1735

That's a good question and I don't know. Not off the top of my head because the hand now has muscle memory and does it mostly on it's own. But when I first started I had to think about it and I screwed up lots.

G to D—all fingers at same time.
D to G—pinky on 1st string then middle and index at same time
G to C---ring then middle then index like dominos
C to G--- pinky on 1st string then middle and index at same time
C to full barred F—pinky, ring and index same time
Full barred F to C-ring finger never moves then middle then index like dominos
Mini barre F to C to F—all the same time because the shapes are similar
D to A to D—all same time
A to E—middle and ring same time and index just after that
E to A---all the same time

Root 6 barre major chords I form the chord first with the ring and pinky. When they are in place I drop the middle finger down and (last) barred index finger.

"Nothing...can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts."

Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 2849

In the end all of this advice is the same as I would suggest.

When I am practicing chords and/or new progressions I just take it real slow and maybe just do one strum to sound the chord out then move to the next one and do one strum etc.. All this time I am figuring out what is the anchor finger (least movement) and fix that first, then the next easiest etc. After going through this a number of times you get the feel for the chord and the progression then you can apply whatever strum pattern you feel good with and work Through them again and again. After awhile you seem to put all fingers down at once without even realizing it.

One important thing that I always try to remember and that is that there is no rule that says you must use the same fingers on the same fret all the time for each chord. An example that is thrown around alot is the open G. Depending on what chord I am coming from or going to I use the 1,2,3 combo or the 2,3,4 combo depending on which is quickest and cleanest.

The key is a word you will begin to hate hearing "practice" :lol:

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Trusted Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 62

Ditto what Nils and javajark wrote. Go through the changes slowly and pay attention to the movements that are required. Be aware of any fingers that might stay in place and can be used as an anchor. I had this problem well past the 2 and a half month mark but I put everything else aside for a while and just concentrated on chord changes and it made a big difference. Good luck!

Well I got this guitar and I'm tryin' to learn how to make it talk.

Eminent Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 38

I had alot of trouble with this when I was starting out. One thing that
really helped me was when I asked another guitar player for any tips,
and he told me "You have to grab the chord". You need to practice really
really slowly.
Start with one chord shape, do a strum to make sure you have all
notes clear.
Slowly, very slowly lift all the fingers and move them to the new
locations and place them all at once. Take up to a minute at first.
Once fingers are down strum again to make sure all notes are fretted
right. Repeat process alot.
Gradualy increase speed until you can do it smoothly.
open C to open G is good since all fingers need to move.

Other thing to do is to look for pivot, and slide fingers. E->A->D
can be down with only lifting first two fingers (E->A you can slide 3rd
finger forward one fret while moving 1st and 2nd fingers). Trick is to
practice it real slowly and visualize grabing chord rather then placing
fingers. Also make sure your thumb is in center of neck, and use it as a
guide to where your fingers are. After you get it with a few chords, the
thumb will be less critical where you leave it.