Lessons Guitar chords Songbook Guitar tools Misc/Contact

4. Chord progressions and chord switching exercises - 4

You will learn


Out of tune?

Tune your guitar online, click here


Chord progression - Simply means playing one chord after another. You hve already, maybe unwittingly, played a lot of chord progressions. For Sweet Home Alabama the chord progression was D - C - G for instancde.

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 that switching 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 guitarplayer is to actually be able to make fast and smooth chord progressions. Ideally you should not be able to hear any "intermediate" step between two chords, one chord should just smoothly follow the other.

So the question is - how can we achieve such nice progressions? There are two strategies:

1. You 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(this also includes simply switching between regular chords over and over)

2. You find shortcuts between different chords, to make a smooth transition from one chord to another.

3. 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 tips for both strategies in this lesson. The second strategy, however, only works in certain situations and between certain chords - but they are nevertheless usefull to know about. The second strategy can only work with the first one, since you need to be able fret the chords neatly and flawlessly before you can make shortcuts.

This takes time, but believe me when I tell you that the work and time will pay off greatly for your future guitar playing.

Chord switching exercises

I'm sure that there is a similar quote outthere, nevertheless I go by this one

"If you practise something difficult, the easy becomes easier"

The same goes for anything that you learn, not only guitar playing. Nevertheless, you must go at it in a logical order - it would be silly for me to have introduced these exercises to you in the first lesson (and also I would bore you out straight aweay). However, now you are at least a bit used to the fretboard, and therefore you are ready for trying some more tricky stuff! These exercises are going to aid you now, and for the rest of your guitar playing experience.

Remember that exercises are exercises, and not music. They are to be repeated as often as you can to keep up your fingers' agility and speed. For instance when I don't really know what to play, I just play exercises to keep my hands ready for when I actually figure out something to play. It keeps your muscles and brain going.

In the following lessons you are going to learn more exercises - memorize them so that you always have them ready for practising in your head. Also - think outside of the box: Make your own exercises!

I am going to demonstrate the exercises at the end of this lesson. Remember to at all times keep your fingertips as close to the fretboard as possible when playing.

Exercise 1

The key is to understand the pattern of this exercise. Practise it extremely slowly in the beginning, and only increase the tempo when you feel secure enough. Only move two fingers at a time when swtiching- keep the other two in their place.


Listen to MIDI

Exercise 2

This exercise is similar to the exercise above, however in this one you have to move all fingers when switching between the chords.


Listen to MIDI

Exercise 3

This exercise not only practises the independency of your fingers, but also your ability to confidently movge up and down the fretboard. It is the most difficult one of the three - so make sure to take your time! Slowly first, then speed up.

Actually it is sobering to think that even a beginner guitarist can play the most amazing of guitar solos out there,as long as it is played at a slow speed =)


Listen to MIDI

Video demonstration of exercises 1-3


Exercise 4 - Make your own exercise!

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. The following chords are difficult to play as a beginner, therefore the only way to learn them properly is to make an exercise in order to play them over and over again - a progression.

B7 - G - D7 - C7 - Am - G7

Since C7 and G7 are quite similar I decided to put an Am in between them, to keep the switching difficult.

Exedrcise 5 - example of shortcuts

This is a simple exercise in which I wanted to highlight some common shortcuts between chords. I will show you nicely in the video how to fret the chords for this shortcut.

D - G - Em - Am - C - Am - Em - G - D







Before moving on

Make sure that you have at least memorized the exercises. You don't necessarily have to be able to play all of them flawlessly now, but imagine them more as always being a part the upcoming lessons, and as part of your warm up before playing.


← Previous lessonNext lesson →