Learning the positions of each finger on the fret board for every chord is already an impressive feat. However, changing the position of the fingers quickly to produce the next chord can prove even more difficult for beginners. Here are some tips that might help you.
Learning to play guitar can be compared to learning to write on a keyboard. At the beginning we are unable to do it without looking at the keys. It is a slow and frustrating activity, as we want to write faster, without making mistakes, but sometimes cannot find the letters and our fingers do not seem to obey.
As we get used to chat or text our friends, we get increasingly faster, and with time we do not even have to look at the keyboard to write complete sentences. Playing the guitar is pretty much the same thing. With practice, you will soon be able to move your fingers across the fret board without even looking at it.
The first thing one should do is pick a song you like and are familiar with. Try to choose an easy song that has distinguishable verses and chorus, and only three or four chords. Don´t worry, you´ll get to the complex ones when you´re ready.
Check out this video about the A Major chord – it’s a great beginners video and Mark is a great teacher:
Memorize all the chords used in the song. Practice each of them, and play them slowly. When you strum your chord, all the strings should have a clear sound. So listen for strings that are muted or buzzy and reposition your fingers if you hear any.
After you make sure you got the perfect chord, go to the next one and repeat. You can try playing one chord, release the fret board and do the same chord again. This helps you memorize each chord better. Do this until you feel you get a perfect sound on almost every try, and then go to the next chord.
Now you want to learn to do smooth transitions between chords. A simple trick is to find fingers that do not have to significantly change their position or move at all when going from one chord to the next. You use them as starting points or pivots, while the rest of the fingers find their places.
This keeps all your fingers as close to the fret board as possible which is also essential to switch chords smoothly. An example of this would be changing between two barred chords. Here, the index finger would only have to slide down or up, and you only have to position the other three.
When you´re ready to start playing a whole song, count the beats each chord should be played. Then anticipate your next chord, visualizing where your fingers should land when it is time to go to the next chord. Playing the song slowly will give you enough time for changing the fingers while keeping the tempo, but if it still proves too difficult, you could use the last beat of each measure to position your fingers for the next chord on time.
Whatever you do, never stop strumming. If you keep moving your strumming hand, the fretting hand will try to keep up and place the fingers on time. Do not worry if your fingers are not yet in place when the downbeat comes, you´ll start doing it right in no time. Increase the speed of the song as you gain confidence.
Just keep these simple tricks in mind when you´re ready to play your next song, and they will surely help you build up the skills to become a great guitar player in no time.