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  #1  
Old 02-01-2012, 02:54 PM
jasperguitar jasperguitar is offline
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Default The struggle of changing chords fast enough ..

I getting to the point where I can pretty much find any chord [ at least the usual suspects ]. I have the brain cramp blues now and then, but I work through it, and get the chord.

What I am struggling with, changing the chords fast enough to stay in tempo.

I know I'm not alone, I've seen/read numerous postings from fellow learners who struggle with chord changing.

Anyhow.. here is the question:.. Do you have any practice exercises to help you speed up your chord changes? Not cheats, such as ghost strums. Actual chord changes.

I have a bunch of songs I play from start to finish. Some Beattles tunes.. I can play the songs, just can't play them in the tempo that the song was recorded.

I am determined to get up to speed.

I take the song, play each chord, and then practice playing each chord very slow, making my change. Does not take too long before I can play through the song, at a reduced tempo. Drives me nuts.

Any help, thoughts, past experiences?

Thanks.
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Old 02-01-2012, 02:57 PM
billyfamilyvide billyfamilyvide is offline
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What helped me the most was something I called "forced chords". I would play (strum) the song at normal tempo. Sooner or later, through much practice and disgusting sounding chords, my fingering hand would catch up.
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Old 02-01-2012, 03:01 PM
Smurf Smurf is offline
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What helped is good 'ol practice with a metronome. Starting with a tempo that is 1/2 the tempo of the song & kicking it up once a week or so built up the speed for me.

I chose that hardest tune I am doing at the time and make that my "goal" track....or even just taking a chord progression that has a few of those darn finger-twisting chords and using that as my goal track, killing 2 birds with one stone!
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Old 02-01-2012, 03:02 PM
Fliss Fliss is offline
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You are definitely not alone in struggling with this.

There is no substitute for practice and lots of repetition. But one thing that might help you is to look for fingers and shapes that can stay in place while changing, so you can use them as a kind of pivot. An example of this is C to D7 - the index finger stays in place on the first fret of the B string. If you were then to change from that to a G chord, the index and middle fingers can stay in the same position relative to each other while thethird finger slides up one fret to the third fret of the E string.

Once you see these patterns, it makes it a little bit easier to keep things flowing.

Fliss
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Old 02-01-2012, 03:12 PM
jwing jwing is offline
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I put an app on my iPhone called TempoAdvance.

It is a metronome with a tempo increase function. I choose an intial tempo that is quite a bit slower than I think I can play. I tell the app how many measures to stay at that tempo and how many beats per minute to increase the tempo when the presrcibed measures are done. The new tempo is kept for the same number of measures and again automatically sped up by the chosen increment.

By picking a small increment, I can hardly notice the difference from one tempo to the next. I keep playing, even if I make a mistake. When the tempo gets so fast that I can't keep up, I've found my limit for that day. The next day I start far below the limit, but faster than the previous day's start.

It works for me, but it takes some serious discipline and concentration.
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Old 02-01-2012, 03:15 PM
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Mr Fixit eh Mr Fixit eh is offline
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And don't forget that there is no law that says every chord strum has to sound good. In other words, keep the strumming locked into a solid beat. Say its in 4/4 and you're struming dn, up, dn, up, dn, up, dn, up. On that last down/up, your fretting fingers are up in the air searching out the new position for the downbeat of the next bar. Most pros do it and it sounds just fine.

Steve
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Old 02-01-2012, 03:18 PM
wcap wcap is offline
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Like so many things involved in playing instruments, it just is going to take time. Keep plugging away at it. Learn more songs too if something grabs you. Plug away at them all. Revel in the small successes, and enjoy the ride. You might not play anything decently well for a year or more. It might take several years to play anything really really well. And then at some point, if you are persistent and patient and determined, things will start to come together, and a bunch of different things that you have been working on playing will start to sound genuinely good. This is what happend with me, anyway.

Again, take pleasure in the things you are able to master, don't get upset about the things that are not working the way you would like at this point, but plug away at it systematically and patiently. Enjoy the process and all the intermediate stages and the succession of small triumphs, and you will likely be surprised by what comes naturally to you in a few years.
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Old 02-01-2012, 03:30 PM
HHP HHP is offline
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Sounds like you are practicing playing slowly so you get good at playing slowly. Try setting the tempo with your right hand, keep it steady and at speed, force your left hand to try and make the changes as best you can. It will get better as you practice making changes instead of playing slowly.
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Old 02-01-2012, 03:59 PM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Fixit eh View Post
And don't forget that there is no law that says every chord strum has to sound good. In other words, keep the strumming locked into a solid beat. Say its in 4/4 and you're struming dn, up, dn, up, dn, up, dn, up. On that last down/up, your fretting fingers are up in the air searching out the new position for the downbeat of the next bar. Most pros do it and it sounds just fine.

Steve
Exactly. Play in time, get the next chord in its place, and the ear will forgive a missing chord, or open strings, on beat "4-and" of the previous bar.
At anything but really fast tempos, you generally need to hit the chord on beat 4 (the downstroke), but the following upstroke can be faked - hitting open strings while your fingers move to the next chord. But be really sure that next chord is not a nano-second late. A metronome is a good aid here: it's totally unforgiving.

Warning: this will work best in keys where all the open strings are in key, that means keys of C, G and D only. Luckily they're three of the commonest keys (I wonder why...).
Once you get into the keys of A and E (where the open G is out of key), people might start to notice the wrong note on an open-strings upstroke. It still won't matter in a blues though, or any blues-influenced song, where the G natural is just fine in A or E major, at least as a passing note. You can even make a point of those open strings sometimes.

Another "cheat" is to play a bass note alone on beat 1 of the new chord, to allow the other fingers to catch up. You only need to strum the full chord on beat 2. This is obviously good news if the chord is E, A or D, where the bass note is an open string .

Of course, this doesn't mean you needn't speed up your changing and can just relax where you are. But it means you can get a satisfactory sound while you're working your way to increasing your speed. Chord changes don't have to be lightning fast; they just have to be in time, accurate and confident.
(Remember: metronomes are for getting your timing accurate; not for increasing your speed. That's a secondary function. The more you play the faster you get anyway. No need to make that a specific goal. Still, the app jwing mentioned won't do any harm...)
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Old 02-01-2012, 04:36 PM
stanron stanron is offline
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You might already be doing this but if not,

As well as practicing chord sequences it is worth spending some time concentrating on pairs of chords. Take the first two chords of a song. Strum down and up on the first chord then down and up on the second chord. Down and up on the first and down and up on the second. Try and set up a rhythm changing between these two chords. Start slow and get a good groove and gradually speed it up. Consitancy of rhythm first and speed later. After some time on one pair of chords try another pair. Some time in each practice session should be spent doing this until it is no longer an issue. Concentrating on pairs of chords can produced rapid results.
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  #11  
Old 02-01-2012, 04:41 PM
darkvalley1 darkvalley1 is offline
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I agree with all the suggestion above, particularly letting your strumming hand ditate the speed and letting you fretting hand catch up. Indeed the suggestion about playing open string strums while you are changing can often enhance the sound, causing a dissonent sound, which before you brain can get to really dislike it, is resolved to a nice clean chord. I do this often in my playing by choice.
One aspect of fast chord changing is to be able to place all your fingers on the frets at the same time. After awhile this becomes easy, but at the beginning I certainly used to place my fingers down one at a time.
One tip I've seen to speed this up was from a Bob Brozman DVD. You form the chord and then start to lift your fingers from the fret board slightly and then place them back down, (like damping the chord) holding the chord shape. You then proceed to lift your fingers more each time until you are lifting them way up from the fretboard and then putting them back down on to board, all at the same time.
Repeat ad nausium, or at least until your wife and family throw you out of the house!! By then you should be able to play a nice fast ditty about being a lonesome hobo.
I'm sure you have heard and experienced this before, but the things which are frustrating us, in trying to achieve in our playing, become second nature some months down the road and we wonder why they ever caused us so much trouble in the first place. This, of course, if we practice practice practice!!
regards
Finbarr
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  #12  
Old 02-01-2012, 04:56 PM
BrianMcG BrianMcG is offline
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I have a practice routine I call 100s.

I have a spreadsheet that has all the major, barre and other chords on it. The chords are listed both on the top and bottom on a grid.

I pick a chord, say a C chord on the top then a D chord on the side. Then I change chords between the the two 100 times. Then I go to the next, a C and a G for example then do that 100 times. When I finish a series I color in the box corresponding to the two chords.

My goal is to fill out the whole spreadsheet by the end of the month.

After a couple of months of that you will be good to go.
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  #13  
Old 02-01-2012, 05:54 PM
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rick-slo rick-slo is offline
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I don't think the metronome is the answer to this.

In moving from the prior chord learn to form chord shapes in the air on the way to the frets.

On the other hand in finger picking you often do not have to put down all the fingers at the same time. Plant first the fingers that are played first.

Leave the prior chord a bit early (short of a full beat). A lot of people to this and it usually sounds fine (normal in fact).
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Old 02-01-2012, 06:10 PM
carl365 carl365 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rick-slo View Post
In moving from the prior chord learn to form chord shapes in the air on the way to the frets.
This is the way I practice chords, before the fingers hit the strings, I move all the fingers in the chord shape, then come down all together on the strings.

Seems to work for me.
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Old 02-01-2012, 09:03 PM
Howard Klepper Howard Klepper is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billyfamilyvide View Post
What helped me the most was something I called "forced chords". I would play (strum) the song at normal tempo. Sooner or later, through much practice and disgusting sounding chords, my fingering hand would catch up.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Fixit eh View Post
And don't forget that there is no law that says every chord strum has to sound good. In other words, keep the strumming locked into a solid beat. Say its in 4/4 and you're struming dn, up, dn, up, dn, up, dn, up. On that last down/up, your fretting fingers are up in the air searching out the new position for the downbeat of the next bar. Most pros do it and it sounds just fine.

Steve

Disagree with these. Yes to keeping a tempo. But slow that tempo down until you can actually make the changes. You get better at whatever you practice. When you practice playing sloppy, bad sounding chords with the fingers out of place, that is what you will get good at. Same with anything else you practice. If you play faster than you can play with decent execution you are teaching yourself to play badly, and will need more time to unlearn it later than you would have taken to do it right.

It has been said many times, but it can't be said too often: speed comes from accuracy. Practice playing cleanly and you will improve your speed without practicing playing fast.
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