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9. Chord progressions and chord switching exercises - 4

chord progression may sound complicated,but it is actually nothing else but a sequence of chords, one played after the other. You have already played a few chord progressions if you have followed my previous lessons, for instance in the strumming exercises or for Sweet Home Alabama (the chord progression was D - C - G).





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Playing chord progressions - switching smoothly

So far you have been playing quite easy songs that are not too fast and have simple chord progressions. Nevertheless you may have noticed thatswitching between the chords is a bit tricky, and soon you are gong to learn songs with much more advanced chord progressions that require much faster switching.

The key behind being a good rhythm guitar player is to be able to make fast and smooth chord changesIdeally you should not be able to hear any "intermediate" step between two chords, one chord should just smoothly follow the other.

In order to achieve nice, smooth chord progressions...

  1. You always start slow. Slow. Slow. I cannot emphasize this enough - the moment you try to speed up your tempo without being confident in chord changes at a slower tempo, your playing will sound sloppier than a chain saw playing the piano (!). So use a metronome, and gradually increase the tempo.
  2. Practice specific chord switching and fretting exercises over and over until your fingers are fast enough to make smooth switches, and can fret the chords without any problems. In this lesson we will cover exercises for open chords, in the next for some rather weird chords. =)
  3. You can find shortcuts between different chords, to make a smooth transition from one chord to another.
  4. Fretting is not absolute - don't always force yourself to fret a chord in a certain way just because a diagram tells you to - sometimes you may need to change your fretting pattern according to the chord progression, or even only play fragments (parts, or certain strings) of a chord. Professionals to this all the time.

You are going to get some help using these tips in this and the next lesson. The third tip relies on the first and second one - you need to be able fret the chords neatly and flawlessly before you can make shortcuts.


Open chord progression exercises

To get you started, it is good to practice the chords you already know. I will demonstrate these 3 exercises in the video.

Tricky open chord changes

B7    G     D7  

C7    Am  G7  



Canon chord progression in C

C          G

Am        Em

F           C

F           G


This is the chord progression from the famous Canon in C composed by Pachabel.

It is one of the most famous chord progressions ever, used in  a LOT of songs. Please have a look at this video to see how many songs that use it - it'll blow your mind (in this video the song is in D though). 


Short-cuts with open chords

D    G   Em

Am  C   Am

Em  G   D  

This exercise is supposed to show you how you can have nice shortcuts between chords if you think a bit where you can place your fingers. I will show it to you in the video above.

Word of advice

The best thing that you can do when learning new chords is to play the most difficult chords over and over again - in succession (following each other). You have not learnt that many chords yet, but you will encounter many chords that simply seem impossible at first. Repetition and practise is all you need to master them, so don't give up! Mak your own exercises,or brea down the exercises above in different parts (eg only practice one line at a time). 


 In the next lesson we will have a look at some strange chord progression exercises - strange but extremely useful! Please click here to continue.

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