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  #1  
Old 10-31-2009, 12:19 PM
pedro pedro is offline
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Unhappy advice needed

New to guitar playing, i now know the open chords and can play them clearly but have real difficulty changing smoothly between them, when i try to play even a very basic song the gaps between changes is just sooo slow. i know practice makes perfect but i seem to have come to a complete standstill and are becoming a bit disillusioned.
please help...
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  #2  
Old 10-31-2009, 12:24 PM
Andromeda Andromeda is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pedro View Post
New to guitar playing, i now know the open chords and can play them clearly but have real difficulty changing smoothly between them, when i try to play even a very basic song the gaps between changes is just sooo slow. i know practice makes perfect but i seem to have come to a complete standstill and are becoming a bit disillusioned.
please help...
The only think I can say is make sure you're making the chords which allow as little motion for changing chords. Certain fingers really allow for quick changing. Otherwise all I can say is keep practicing it does get easier. I do remember those days and they will pass.
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Old 10-31-2009, 01:11 PM
Acoustic Rick Acoustic Rick is offline
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At first try to change only between say two chords. Just go back and forth from a G to a C and back again. Once you get really smooth at those toss a D chord into the mix. By then you know enough to play tons of songs just using those three chords. Then as you progress you'll gradually increase your chord vocabulary and it'll be second nature to you. Best of luck and enjoy the ride!!
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Old 11-01-2009, 10:21 PM
sully151 sully151 is offline
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I am in the same boat as you. I felt pretty good about myself until a friend came over and was playing banjo. It was then I realized how slow I was.

Justin at justinguitar.com has an exercise where you pick two chords and see how many times you can change back and forth in a minute. Makes a game of it as you try to beat your last high score.
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Old 11-01-2009, 11:48 PM
JoeCharter JoeCharter is offline
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When dealing with a difficult chord, there's an exercise I've been doing forever that works really well for me.

1) Play the chord
2) Remove your hand off the fretboard and close it
3) Play the chord
4) Remove your hand, etc.

Do this hundreds of times if necessary -- and do it for each of the chords of the progression, if necessary. Now try your progression again...

Cheers,

Joe
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Old 11-02-2009, 07:35 AM
ianardo ianardo is offline
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I'm still a beginner, and was in your position not so long ago - just keep that guitar cradled in your arms whenever you can, watching tv, waiting for something in the oven - and practise moving between two chords only continuously, it'll be a matter of a few days to a week before you'll feel like a pro - then comes the F chord
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Old 11-02-2009, 07:43 AM
Herb Hunter Herb Hunter is offline
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Once you get to the point where you can form a chord by placing all the appropriate fingers into position at once, rather than have to construct the chord one finger at a time, you will be able to change from one chord to another quickly.

I think JoeNewbie's advice below will help you accomplish this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeNewbie View Post
When dealing with a difficult chord, there's an exercise I've been doing forever that works really well for me.

1) Play the chord
2) Remove your hand off the fretboard and close it
3) Play the chord
4) Remove your hand, etc.

Do this hundreds of times if necessary -- and do it for each of the chords of the progression, if necessary. Now try your progression again...

Cheers,

Joe
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Old 11-02-2009, 08:12 AM
Ryler Ryler is offline
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Just curious, Joe and Herb, how does closing your hand enable you to form a chord all at once more than removing your hand and not closing it? When you say closing it, you kind of mean forming a fist, yes?
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Old 11-02-2009, 08:26 AM
JoeCharter JoeCharter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryler View Post
Just curious, Joe and Herb, how does closing your hand enable you to form a chord all at once more than removing your hand and not closing it? When you say closing it, you kind of mean forming a fist, yes?
Yes, I form (sort of) a fist when I close my hand.

If you just remove your hand without closing it, you'll be tempted to cheat by keeping your fingers in the semi-right position. By closing your hand, it forces you to start from scratch every time -- and that's the way to go if you want to improve your speed.

I used this technique 20 years ago to learn my first chords -- and still use it to this day when I learn a challenging piece.
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Old 11-02-2009, 09:05 AM
Ryler Ryler is offline
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Ah, thanks for explaining that. There are still certain scrunchy chords that I tend to stumble and pause with, so that helps. One of them is open G to a D7, if I'm looking at the fretboard, I'm fine, but if not, my ring finger is uncooperative on the F# note. It wants to land on the B string. I'll give your method a try.
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  #11  
Old 11-02-2009, 09:18 AM
JoeCharter JoeCharter is offline
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You may find it hard at first but be patient... Most beginners don't realize how much work goes into practicing a few chords to make them sound clear and transition smoothly. But once you get the hang of it, you'll never look back.
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Old 11-02-2009, 11:56 AM
EverythingMusic EverythingMusic is offline
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I created a list of chords and would play 4 beats per chord and switch. I might have 50 combinations in the list (even those that don't make musical sense). C/D/G/F#m/A/F/C/G/Am/ and so on. The objective was to teach muscle memory. It taught me things like when going from D to Em7 you don't need to lift your ring finger. I'd practice the combos for hours until I got to the point where I didn't even have to think of where to put my fingers.
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Old 11-02-2009, 02:27 PM
dgrolem dgrolem is offline
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I taught guitar when I was in college back in the dark ages, and this was every student's question. I know it just takes practice, but what is the "secret"? The secret is hours of butt in the seat time. Thousands of hours actually...
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  #14  
Old 11-02-2009, 03:57 PM
wcap wcap is offline
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I'll second the statement that it will probably take thousands of hours to master things to the point of starting to play some pieces really really well (so, maybe several years of playing an hour a day - well, that would be about 1000 hours I guess).

On one hand this might seem overwhelming and discouraging. But, especially if you are working on some pieces you enjoy and really want to learn, there are multiple small rewards along the way, as this piece or that piece gradually starts to come together. If you want to master this badly enough, you will actually enjoy the process a great deal.

So keep at it, and enjoy the ride along the way.

And before you know it you will be starting to sound pretty good.


In my case I played 5-string banjo badly for several years before things really started coming together. Two pieces over and over again, played badly for about a year, then started adding pieces. Nothing was played all that well for a while. But after about 3 years things really started to come together, and all of these pieces started sounding pretty good.

After about 30 years of banjo I got really seriously into guitar. Though I was not starting out from scratch (lots of technique transfered from banjo), it took me several years to start getting really comfortable with fingerstyle on guitar, and it took about 5 years (averaging no more than 1 hour of playing most days) before I was playing many, or any, of my fingerstyle pieces with enough reliability and precision to seriously consider performing them (e.g. in church) or recording them.

But I've had a blast getting to this point over the past 5 years or so, and I have a long way still to go.
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  #15  
Old 11-03-2009, 07:31 AM
Ryler Ryler is offline
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wcap,

I was inspired by reading your timeline of development. I've been at it 2+ years and am doing fingerstyle. The pauses that plague some of my finger transitions are my nemesis. Same pauses all the time. (If only I could consider them "rests" and part of the intended timing!)

One of the hardest pieces of advice to follow is to play each piece as slowly as your least adept measure, so as to keep even timing. Can't say I abide by that no matter how wise it is. But plug away I do. And I do enjoy it tremendously.
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