14 May 2010

6 Ways To Better Guitar Chords

The more you know about guitar chords the better you will be able to play guitar. Chords are the foundation of rhythm guitar playing and must be understood well to play guitar solos too. So time invested developing skills and knowledge with guitar chords is time well spent for any guitar player. But how do you maximize your chord knowledge and skills? Here are six things you can use to make the most of your practice time.

1. Practice chords often

Break up your daily practice time into several short sessions, five or ten minutes is enough. Short sessions make it easy to focus on perfecting correct movements and help to avoid fatigue. The frequent repetition gives your unconscious mind time to absorb and adjust between sessions.

2. Always have a new chord to work on

The more chords you can play the more songs and styles you will master easily. Make growing your chord vocabulary a long term goal and ensure you build your knowledge by working on at least one new chord at all times. Set yourself a guitar chord of the week and over time you will learn a large number of chords.

3. Choose chords relevant to your style of music

There are many different kinds of chords and different ways to play them. To get the most benefit from your practice time focus on mastering chords and fingerings relevant to your musical style. Find out about the kind of chords and fingerings used by your favourite players and make those your priority.

4. Deepen your chord knowledge

Whenever you learn a new chord don't stop at the first fingering you come across. Learn how to play it in other places on the neck and with other voicings or inversions. This will help you create different sounds for the same chord and add more interest to your rhythm playing.

5. Get the most out of chord shapes

Whenever you learn a new chord shape learn how that shape can be used to play other chords. Often times you can modify fingerings slightly to alter the chord, from major to minor for example. Many chord fingerings can have more than one name, it all depends upon point of view. For example, a C major 6 chord contains all the same notes as Am. Look out for relations like this to improve your chord vocabulary and playing options.

6. Develop good chord practice habits

When you learn new chords remember to work slowly and focus on developing accurate technique before trying to speed up. Use a metronome to help you evaluate a comfortable playing speed and gradually increase it to the tempo you need.

Let's review those points to see what we've learned.

1. Practice chords often, frequent repetition reinforces muscle memory
2. Always have a new chord to work on, you'll soon build an impressive chord vocabulary
3. Choose chords relevant to your style of music, to get most gain from your efforts
4. Deepen your chord knowledge, get the most out of each chord
5. Get the most out of chord shapes, you'll find many ways to reuse and recycle them
6. Develop good chord practice habits, remember, accuracy is your best friend

If you're serious about improving your guitar chord skills, put these ideas to work right away. Pick a chord you know already and find at least four different ways to play it around the fretboard.

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