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Hoping for help resolving my G chord difficulties...

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(@robbieboy)
Eminent Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 19
Topic starter  

Hi folks,

As a relative beginner I have a repertoire of about a dozen chords, one of which (surprise, surprise) is G- the stock standard finger one on A string (second fret), finger two on (top) E (third fret) and finger three on (bottom) E (third fret). I know the chord and I know it instantly. But I am frustrated by the way I move to and from it and keep wondering why this is when I practised it plenty of times when I started (and no-one else seems to have the problem!)

To give you an example of what gives me difficulty, take the example of "Everybody Hurts" by REM which involves a simple arpeggio and a transition at the beginning from D to G. The strings played in the arpeggio are (for the D): D/ (bass note) G/B/E/B/G, DGBEBG (again), and then on to the G chord where the strings played are: (top) E (bass note) then G/B/E/B/G, then E/G/B/E/B/G again (sorry to tell everyone what they already know but it just helps me to accurately describe my problem!)

My problem lies in making a smooth transition at the end of the 'D' arpeggio to the 'G' arpeggio- specifically, the first note of the 'G' arpeggio where you reach for the third fret (top) E with the second finger- I just cannot seem to make this a seamless transition, without a slight pause. I think my problem is I don't know what my first move should be in changing from D to G: bearing in mind what people have said to me about minimising movement, my initial move tends to be to slide my third finger (B string third fret) down to (bottom) E third fret, THEN reach for A string (second fret ) with my first finger and (top) E (third fret) with my second.

I was probably strengthened in my resolve to do it this way when my guitar tutor told me that the hand was not designed for a scenario where you reach for A string with first finger and (top) E with second as the FIRST move, THEN reach right down quickly to the (bottom) E with third finger as the SECOND move. He told me this would place stress on the third finger as it was not designed to do this, and the third finger would effectively suffer repetitive strain injury.

So now I have this uncertainty and lack of confidence as to how I should make this particular transition (and transitions from other chords to G as well). All I know is I am getting mighty sick of seeing people do transitions to G effortlessly when I continue to have this problem :(

Sorry if there has been unecessary detail- I just wanted those reading (and who managed to stay awake) with an accurate description of my difficulty. Can anyone tell me what I am doing wrong? Thanks in advance to anyone who can help!


   
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(@davidhodge)
Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 4472
 

First off, this kind of thing is common with beginners, so don't worry too much about it. Worrying doesn't get you anywhere but frustrated.

You've a couple of options, but the one that will help you handle this immediately is to learn to "cheat" on your chord a bit. Beginners tend to wait until they have the whole chord formed before they play it. With more advanced players, it looks like they're changing every note of the chord at once, in one fluid motion, but the reality is that they are getting their fingers on the assigned notes slightly ahead of the picking hand.

Case in point: Notice on the G chord that you're not picking the A string with the arpeggio, so there's no reason to fully finger the G chord if you're careful with the picking. Make the first move that you do, getting the bass note down. Now immediately play the note. You're going to be hitting two open strings before you need to have your finger on the high E string. You don't have to even worry about your first finger.

It's not that you're not making the transition smoothly, it's that you're waiting for the transition to be complete before playing and when you're playing in this style, you don't have to do that. What you want to practice is hitting the string in correct timing and if you slow the tempo down enough, you should find yourself able to do this and you might even surprise yourself at how easily you did it.

Once you are getting everything in place while you play, and only after you're sure you're comfortable with it, then start picking up the tempo. With repetition and confidence, it will take you less time to get up to speed than it did to read this long-winded explanation.

Hope this helps and please keep us updated on your progress. By the bye, the lesson on You Are My Sunshine ( https://www.guitarnoise.com/lesson/connecting-the-dots-part-2/ ), despite it being part of the "walking bass line" lesson group, deals with this very topic. Give it a read... And be on the lookout for the upcoming lesson on The 59th Street Bridge Song (otherwise known as Feelin' Groovy), which will also deal with this in a big way. Should be up online next week.

Peace


   
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(@fender-bender)
Trusted Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 34
 

Hey, I was just having a look at your message and thinking I know so little myself that I would have to get tabs for the song and try it myself. Sounds cool, I think I will look for the tabs anyway. But getting back to your question . . .

I have only been playing - or working on playing - since January so my level of play is probably below even yours. But I would like to offer two things: 1. I find that practicing a difficult section of a song in a super slow-mo crawl, where my fingers transition from place to place over the course of several seconds helps. After doing that section repeatedly in slow-mo you will begin to speed up naturally. 2. I hear in your writing your level of frustration, ie; "no one else has this problem, " and "I am getting mighty sick..". I know that feeling EXACTLY. When I need to pick myself back up, I look back to a milestone that I passed ONLY a few months ago. For me it would be when I could strum the simple chords of a three chord song, and do the whole song. Before that it was being able to change from one simple chord to another. I am sure you have your own milestones when you said, "Hey look mom, NO HANDS!"

Someone else may give you an insight to that particular transition. All I am saying is, Life is good Brother, You can do it!

F/B in beautiful Wentzville, MO


   
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(@kroikey)
Reputable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 232
 

I'm glad someone asked this before I had to. Your not alone! I kinda knew I have to get out of the habit of forming the chords completely before strumming, as I'm hitting a few walls where finger independance is necessary. Independance and also working together for the chords is kinda counter-intuitive, but slowly does it!

Thanks DHodge, your a star, keep on shining! :D


   
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(@rparker)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5480
 

I can't add anything of value to David's writings, but I can back up his statement about beginners having problems with chord transitions. I don't have problems with G-D anymore, but send me from an open chord to a barred chord and I have that split second delay thing going. Probably a repetion thing. I know that I've got the chord fingered LONG before I strike it with my right hand. Getting better and better, but I still have to work on it.

Another note about the G chord. I learned it out of a book where they had me do the ring finger on the b-string (3rd fret). I found out later that it wasn't needed, but I can't play it otherwise and keep the timing going. Odd.

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


   
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(@fender-bender)
Trusted Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 34
 

That was quick! In the time it took me to click "reply" and compose a message, David had already responded with a solution!

F/B in beautiful Wentzville, MO


   
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(@bjourne)
Trusted Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 37
 

Well, you are not alone because I also have that same problem practicing that same D to G arpeggio in Everybody Hurts. :) One thing that helps a little for me is to use the four finger G 320033, that way you don't have to move your ring finger when switching between the chords. For me the big problem with that chord change is that my thumb wants to be in a totally different position when playing G instead of D. So I have to regrab the neck of the guitar which causes big slowdowns.


   
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 Cat
(@cat)
Noble Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1224
 

Can anyone tell me what I am doing wrong? Thanks in advance to anyone who can help!

Yer tryin' to "build Rome in a day", mate! At this point you should be takin' small bites but SAVORING those bites. Listen, kid: tune that thing right...and concentrate on the notes that jump out at you from those scarce few chords. Then spend yer life chasing after 'em!

It's a WONDERFUL instrument, matey!

Cat

"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"


   
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(@robbieboy)
Eminent Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 19
Topic starter  

Thanks everyone for the tips and encouragement, and apologies for my tardiness is replying to those who responded quickly to my initial post!

A couple of developments since I posted this thread intially- one is that I acquired a steel string guitar which I have overwhelmingly played and practised on in preference to my nylon string, and the other is that I have taken some advice kindly offered earlier in this thread when changing from D to G for the 'Everybody Hurts' arpeggio (that advice being not to fully finger the G chord, but just use fingers 2 and 3 as finger 1 does not play a role in a 'G' arpeggio- this has been helpful).

I don't know if anybody here has experienced the curious sensation of doing 99% of their playing and practice on a steel-string, then momentarily going back to a nylon string? It's a really weird feeling, because with a steel string the neck/fretboard is much narrower and the strings closer together- then when you go back to a nylon string, the neck/fretboard feels absolutely massive and it seems a comparative breeze to find chords and hit the right strings (kind of like learning to read then going back to a book with huge print that a youngster would read!!).

The downside of changing to steel string for me has been that because the strings are a lot closer together, I have been more inclined to hit the wrong strings or accidentally hit the same string twice when playing an arpeggio- more precision seems to be required. Also sometimes (with Everybody Hurts arpeggio) when reaching for the 'bass' E with finger 2 I have found with the narrower frets that sometimes I finger the 'bass' E too firmly with finger 2- pushing it off the top of the fretboard and making a weird sound!!

Anyway thanks one and all for the advice and encouragement- with the guitar I find there are days when I feel like I am getting somewhere, and days when I feel like I am getting nowhere. But I am learning that this is all part of the ride! Thanks everyone.


   
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