Most guitarists have a real tough time learning how to practice switching chords smoothly when they first start out. This is the biggest challenge that beginner guitar players speak me to about when they come in for their free intro guitar lesson and is the easiest to fix if you approach learning it in the right way. There are 3 main steps you must have in place to work on chord switches and they must be done in this order.
The 3 Essential Steps To Master Guitar Chord Switches
- You must have total muscle memory of the chords that your are struggling to switch between. If you struggle to switch from a C to a G chord, and you do not quite know how to do a G chord without thinking about it one finger at a time, then you are not yet ready to practice switching chords. You must be able to recall and place your fingers on the chord in less than 1 second. Until you are at this point, you can not hope to master guitar chord switches with any sort of musicality or rhythm. You must practice placing your fingers on guitar chords over, and over, and over, and over until it is burned into the muscle memory of your hand. Only then can you start to overcome the challenges you will face when switching guitar chords.
- Once you have muscle memory, you move on to switching guitar chords while maintaining rhythm. In the video below, I explain this more in detail. You must be able to keep track of rhythm while switching chords. That means you can tap your foot to a steady count of 4, and switch to the next chord before you hit beat 1. You will likely mess this up in the beginning, the more important thing to focus on is keeping rhythm, and adjusting your fretting hand while the beat keeps going. If you stop counting rhythm every time you switch guitar chords, you are training yourself to STOP EVERY TIME YOU SWITCH CHORDS. This is a common mistake. You must overcome the initial feeling of awkwardness, and PLOW through and get to the chord while keeping time. Even if you mess up, keep the rhythm, and adjust as you go.
- When you get to more complex strumming and rhythms, you will have a much busier strumming hand to attend to while switching chords. A simple trick to practice switching smoothly without sounding like you are having a heart attack from trying to switch at the last second is to practice switching your fretting hand on the offbeat of beat 4. This is difficult to explain in text so watch the video below.
If you can memorize the chords with the left hand, maintain rhythm while switching even if it means sacrificing the sound quality of the chord, and practice switching on the offbeat of beat 4, and train this on a daily basis, you will find in a weeks time that switching guitar chords is much much easier and you will be a better guitar player as a result.