So you’ve started learning guitar this year and you’ve learned a few chords. Maybe you even learned a couple songs, but your fingers still don’t do quite what you tell them to do. Switching chords still feels cumbersome, and maybe it feels like you’ve reached a plateau. Don’t worry, here are a few quick tips to try that will help your fingers get faster at switching chords.

1. Watch For Similar Shapes.

Although it seems like every open chord is it’s own shape, many chords share the same shape. Sometimes they’re on a different set of strings. Sometimes they’re just thinner or wider versions of each other. Here’s some common open chords that share the same shape:

E Major / A Minor

E Major / A Minor

E Major and A Minor both share the same shape, just on a different set of strings.

 

C Major / G7 / Fmaj7
C Major / G7 / F Major7
These three chords share the same shape. Think of C Major as the “parent” shape. G7 is a wider version of C Major, and Fmaj7 is a thinner version.

2. Watch for Anchored Fingers

Not all chord shapes are the same, but many times chords have a finger or two in common that stay anchored while switching. Watch for any shapes that keep one or more of the same fingers. For example:

G major, D major, Cadd9, and Emin7 all have the third finger stay in the same place

G, Cadd9, D, and Em7

check this out for reference:
4 Essential Open Chords

How many shapes can you find with fingers in common?

3. Hidden Similar Shapes

Sometimes, you might not find any similarities in your guitar chords. That’s because they’re hiding! Check out D Major and and C Major. Can you see it?

C and D

Fingers 2 and 3 are the same in both chords, just on different strings. Practice switching between these two chords and thing about fingers 2 and 3 as a unit. They stay together through the switch.

4. Keep Your Right Hand Moving

Hands are “slow learners”, they require lots and lots of repitition before fully understanding. One way to help out the process of helping your left hand learn the chord transitions is to keep your right hand strumming. Don’t wait until every finger gets to where it needs to go, just strum away. Doing this will trick your left hand into catching up.

Caution: Don’t do this everytime you practice. You don’t want to develop a bad habit of lazily switching chords. Use this technique as a quick jumpstart to your practice session.

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