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Guitar Lesson: Begin To Practice Chords

Feb 25, 2008
Chords are important tools in a guitarists toolbox. So, what can you do to become a better chord player? Here are some ways you can practice chords effectively!

In this guitar lesson we will take a closer look at an easy chord sequence with only two chords, D and A7. We will play them in their most common shape. Let us first take a look at the chord D-major:

D: 04 23 32 21

Every note in the chord is represented with two numbers. The first number in the pair tells you which fret to press down. 0 means that you play an open string, that is, a string without pressing down a fret.

In order for you to really understand this notation I will also describe in words how to play this D chord:

Play the open fourth string, press down your left hand index finger on the second fret and third string. Use your ring finger to press down the third fret on the second string and finally press down the second fret on the first string with your middle finger. Now you can strum the chord.

If you are a guitar beginner make sure that you are playing correctly. Here are a few tips:

1. Make sure that your fingers are perpendicular to the fingerboard. This is easier accomplished if you have short nails.

2. Place your left hand thumb in the center of the neck of the guitar for support.

3. Try not to press down your fingers too hard on the fingerboard. If you cannot play the chords with a clean sound it is better to try to figure out the real cause of the problem. Maybe the error is that one of your fingers is touching an adjacent string or it can have to do with the way you press down the frets. Press down the frets as close to the left of the metal strips as you can in order to avoid unwanted noises from the strings.

Let us go back to the chord D. The best way to practice this chord is not to hold down your fingers on the fretboard until you feel pain. Instead I suggest that you press down your fingers on the frets as lightly as you can and strum the chord once testing if the chord sounds clean and accurate.

After having strummed the chord once take your left hand from the fretboard and relax your fingers by shaking your hand. Now it is time to practice playing the chord again using the same method.

Why should you practice this way?

The difficult part of playing chords is not to hold a chord over an extended period of time. This can cause pain and injuries and will not make you a better chord player. The important thing is to be able to place your fingers on the right frets as fast as possible as you change chords.

This is why it is important and most effective to practice using the method described previously.

Now it is time to take a look at the A7 chord:

A7: 05 24 03 22 01

In words this means: Play the fifth open string, place your index finger on the second fret on the fourth string, play the open third string, place your middle finger on the second fret on the second string and play the open first string.

Practice this chord the same way as the D-major chord by alternating between holding the chord, strumming once and then relaxing the fingers.

Now when you have two chords at your disposal you can practice the important skill to be able to change chords fast and smoothly. Strum once on the D chord, then move to the A7 chord, strum once and repeat the sequence slowly until you can play the changes with ease.

Something to consider when you move between chords is to move your fingers in an economical way. Keep them close to the fretboard as you move from one chord to another. In this example with the chords D and A7 you can move your index finger and middle finger up one string each to be prepared to play A7.

In any song having chords that you want to practice you can use the same method. Concentrate on two consecutive chords in the song at a time. Try to move between them smoothly by strumming once on each chord.
About the Author
Peter Edvinsson is a guitarist, composer and music teacher. He invites you to download your free guitar tablature at http://www.capotastomusic.com
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