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Why Beginner Guitarists Struggle With Chords
By Janus Buch


As a professional guitar teacher I meet a lot of frustrated beginner guitarists, who are struggling with playing and changing between their chords. This is extremely common and if you are a beginner who are struggling to make your chords sound the way you want them too this article offers you some insights into why this is the case and what you can do about it.

Chords are deceiving
Most beginners I talk to start their guitar journey by playing chords for two main reasons. First of all, because they wanna play their favourite songs and to do that, most of the time, you need to play chords. Secondly, chords seem so easy. Once the fingers are placed in the right position the fretting hand simply stays there while the other hand does all the work. And this is exactly why chords are deceiving. While the fingering of the chords themselves can be tricky as well, it is changing between the chords that most often makes people the most frustrated and for good reason. Think about the amount of coordination and fine motor skills that goes into this movement. Three fingers have to move independently from each other from different places on the fretboard to different places on fretboard. And they have to do it almost instantly. This is in no way a beginning task.  

Reduce the difficulty
Most beginners start out with playing full open chords. This is extremely difficult and starting this way will slow your progress on the guitar WAY down. Instead, what you should to is reduce all you chords to be played only on the three highest things. This means simply ignoring everything that goes on, on the D, A and E string. This will make the chords a lot easier to finger and you can begin playing songs at full speed within a week. Do however pay a lot of attention to the fingering of the top three strings. You should finger them exactly as you use to. You will have to play the full chord eventually and if you use the wrong fingers, playing the reduced chords, you will have to relearn the chords at a later date.

Isolate the fretting hand
Once you have reduced the difficulty a lot as described above, you wanna practice changing between the chords only. This means no strumming or having to follow along in a piece of paper or a streamed song. Doing this will give you make you able to focus solely on the movements of the hand. Your goals is to make the hand do the motion instantly and without you thinking about it. But this takes a lot of training and until you can do this, you will have to focus on this aspect only. Once you can fluently change between the reduced chords and play song with them at full speed, you can slowly start adding more fingers. Keep in mind that you have to use the same method for training these new chords until you know and can change between them by heart. ​

About the Author


The author have been teaching guitar professionally since 2016 and specialises in getting his students the results they are seeking. You don’t have to be stuck in your guitar playing anymore. At Bredballe Guitarskole Janus Buch is offering Guitar undervisning Horsens to everybody who is interested in learning and improving their skills on the guitar. As long as your are serious and are willing to put in the work, I will guide you through the process and together we can make your guitar playing dream a reality.

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