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How to Change Chords Smoothly on the Guitar

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We are about to take on THE biggest challenge for newer guitar players… changing chords smoothly. This is the single toughest skill that ends up frustrating so many players and even makes a lot of them quit the guitar altogether. That’s why I want to give you some tips to make sure that you sail through this guitar player right of passage as easy as possible. Below you will find the Smooth Chord Transition Checklist. Read through the following seven tips, and then we will go through a few chord changing exercises that will help you apply everything into one neat package. Keep the clean chord tips in mind as you go through this video. We will focus on just the D and A major chords to start.

1 - Know the individual chord shapes first. - If you can’t go directly to the individual chord shapes on their own first, you will have a much harder time trying to switch between chords. Dividing up the challenge like this is a great way to attack new skills.

2 - Only work on two chords at a time. - If you try to work on changing chords with a progression that uses four or five chords, you are going to make things much harder on yourself than if you work on only two chords at a time. This comes back to dividing up the challenge.

3 - Practice awareness. - Try to be aware of what chord is coming up next, so you don’t get taken by surprise. A big part of this is studying and knowing the chord progression you are playing.

4 - Visualize what the next chord looks like. - A great way to practice awareness and make a clean chord change is to visualize the next chord that is coming up before you have to make the change.

5 - Think about how the next chord feels. - Another effective way to practice awareness is to think about how the chord you are changing to feels before you have to actually make the switch.

6 - D to A then A to D - When you are working on a specific chord change try starting with the first chord and moving to the second for a while. Once you feel comfortable with that you can switch it up. Start with the second chord and move to the first one. It may not sound like a big difference but it sure feels different. This is kind of like cross-training and it’s very effective. 7 - Practice often - The biggest key to getting smooth chord transitions down is just consistent practice. Try to fit in multiple shorter practice sessions every day. Forcing your brain and body to recall all of this more often will help you get it down faster.


If you need to get the basics of playing the guitar down, you should go through the Guitar Foundations course here. You can also invest in the accompanying Ebook here. Let us know how things are going for you and if you have any questions by leaving a comment below.

Need advice on what strings, picks, accessories, or gear to use? Check out our list of recommended products here.

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