5 Tips for Enhancing Chord Techniques for New Guitarists

by Frederik Nielsen, Feb 15, 2018 . 4 min read

5 Tips for Enhancing Chord Techniques for New Guitarists

As every beginner guitarist will know, it takes some time for your fingers to become friends with the strings.

1. Avoid the ‘death grip’

In other words, pressing them down against the fret board repeatedly and for extended periods of time will make you want to shout things that aren’t radio-friendly.

What most people then do is to hook their thumb around the top of the fretboard for extra leverage, which only results in leaving your incriminating fingerprints on the fretboard rather than pressing down the strings with your fingertips. This is called the ‘death grip’.

To combat this, always make sure you keep your thumb on the back of the neck, which will help you use your fingertips, and in turn produce the clean and pleasant sound you expect. As with any exercise, this will feel awkward and difficult at first because your wrist lacks strength – the only way to strengthen it is to practice regularly.

2. Being Fast will make you Furious

Patience is, as always, a virtue, and regardless of how excited you are to pull off a new chord sequence – slow down. Learn to crawl before you run, or you will fall on your face and get frustrated. Comparing your own technique to that of more seasoned guitarists will quickly ruin your motivation.

Focus instead on getting each chord right, and speed will come with time and practice. That said, you should make sure you do increase your speed with time. Staying at the same slow speed usually means you have developed a bad habit that makes it impossible for you to increase your speed.

3. Practice with the sound off

Just like you can make a run on the good ol’ treadmill feel like a breeze by distracting yourself with an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, you can do the same when practicing your guitar skills. How so? Simple. Let your right hand handle the remote and popcorn while your left hand switches from one chord to another on the fret board.

You won’t get much sound, but what you will do is strengthen your wrist, fingertips and muscle memory. Alternatively, there are ways to still pluck or strum the strings without making much noise, so you can still enjoy your favorite show whilst not missing out on some good practice.

4. Cut corners by using pivot fingers

There are many different chords, but with the limited space on the fret board, chances are that some chords will have a finger or two in common. Use this to your advantage and keep those fingers in place. These are called your pivot fingers, and they will make your life a lot easier.

Not only will pivot fingers allow for much smoother transitions between chords, they will also lend support to your hand as you move your other fingers around the fret board to the next chord. Turns out that sometimes the easy way is the best way.

5. Practice, practice, practice

Bet you didn’t see this tip coming. Practice makes perfect, yes, we know. The important part of this is that you need to structure a routine. It’s better to practice for a short period of time every day than trying to make up for slacking by practicing relentlessly for hours at a time. There are practice schedules already put together for you so you can plan a daily 30-minute session.

Another important thing to keep in mind is to practice with focus. Make a note of your strengths and weaknesses, and make sure you work on ironing out the kinds every practice session. Keep track of your progress as well, as this will help with your motivation and boost that ego guitarists are so renowned for.



Get our free Alternate Tunings Guide!
Submit
Get Roadie Tuner

Check out some other similar articles

You want to get better at guitar, right?

Who doesn’t? If you’re serious about your instrument, you’ll do anything and everything to build up your chops.

Alec Plowman
Sep 30, 2019 . 4 min read

When it comes to learning guitar, everybody has a goal piece. It’s that one song they’ve wanted to master since they first picked up the instrument

Alec Plowman
Sep 23, 2019 . 3 min read

The voice of Hawaii, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, blessed us with his cover mashup of Somewhere Over the Rainbow and What A Wonderful World.

Frederik Nielsen
Sep 16, 2019 . 3 min read

Teaching yourself to play ukulele is great!  Whether you’re learning to play ukulele online or with a book, it’s an awesome skill.

Alec Plowman
Jun 25, 2019 . 4 min read

So you want to learn to play ukuleleAwesome. But, what’s the best ukulele for beginners? Which cheap ukuleles won’t leave you buyer’s remorse?

Alec Plowman
Jun 6, 2019 . 4 min read

Whether you are a beginner or have some experience with guitars, you still may be wondering how to tune a guitar perfectly.

Alain Abou Atmeh
May 2, 2019 . 4 min read

Alternate tunings make life as a guitarist a bit more interesting, as it’s easy to get tired of just being famous all the time. That’s why we cover alternate tuning

Frederik Nielsen
May 1, 2019 . 5 min read

Drummers are loud people — let’s talk about it. I have to deal with a drummer who never calls in sick for rehearsals. He always shows up,

Federik Nielsen
Apr 29, 2019 . 3 min read

It’s a well-established fact: having a routine makes your more productive. Chances are you already put this into practice when it comes to

Alec Plowman
Apr 5, 2019 . 3 min read

What’s the best acoustic guitar for a beginner? If you’ve ever worked in a guitar store, you’ve probably been asked that question. A LOT.

Alec Plowman
Mar 31, 2019 . 3 min read

We’ve talked before in this blog about how jamming with other musicians is an amazing way to fast-track learning the guitar.

Alec Plowman
Oct 11, 2018 . 3 min read

What sets apart a great lead guitar solo from a mediocre one? Is it technique? Finger dexterity? Scale mastery?

Alec Plowman
Jul 23, 2018 . 4 min read

Beginner guitarists and tuning stability have a turbulent relationship. In this day and age, getting your guitar

Alec Plowman
Jul 9, 2018 . 4 min read

So you’ve decided you want to play electric guitar. Awesome. You’ve just taken your first step into a wider world

Alec Plowman
Jun 28, 2018 . 4 min read

You are all in for treat! One can never be awesome enough with the axe, so take a look below for the tricks

Frederik Nielsen
Jun 13, 2018 . 4 min read

Embedded in every guitar player’s DNA is an incredibly huge ego (not my opinion, Google it) that needs to be fed on a regular basis.

Frederik Nielsen
May 28, 2018 . 4 min read

A few days ago, I went to a local show to watch a couple of up-and-coming bands I’d heard some good things about.

Alec Plowman
May 25, 2018 . 3 min read

What’s the best way to learn guitar? You can take guitar lessons, you can look up guitar tabs,

Alec Plowman
May 24, 2018 . 4 min read

When you learn to play guitar, there’s a considerable amount of guitar equipment you need to get started.

Alec Plowman
May 23, 2018 . 5 min read

Welcome back to Roadie’s guitar plectrums series! If picking the right pick has you lost in a world of confusion, then this is the series for you!

Alec Plowman
May 16, 2018 . 4 min read
We'll be bringing you recommended tabs and plenty of interesting quotes from guitar legends along the way!