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How to Master Chord Transitions in 4 Steps?

How to Master Chord Transitions?

Many times I’ve been asked by my students: how to master chord transitions and change between chords quickly. Well, you are about to find out.

The good news is learning to play chords on the guitar smoothly isn’t difficult (even if you’ve been struggling for a long time).

In this article, I will explain how to master chord transitions on the guitar. And I promise you, if you do these steps exactly, you will master any chord on the guitar and you will move between chords easily.

Step one: Isolate the chords

Start by isolating the chords that are difficult for you to play or change between, such as G Major and C Major. Ensure that you are aware of the correct fingerings for each chord and practice playing them to ensure that your muscles remain relaxed while doing so.

Make sure each finger is on the correct fret and the correct string. It’s easy to get fooled by the shape of the chords or to forget where the fingers are. Have the chord diagrams in front of you as a guide. If you do not know how to read chord charts, I advise you to read this article.

Step Two: Master each chord individually

master chord transitions

Practice changing each chord several times, in this way:

  • Put your fingers on the correct notes of the first chord.
  • Relax your fingers from the strings. ‘Relaxing your fingers from the strings’ is different from lifting them. The former keeps your body relaxed…the latter tense you up.
  • Put the fingers back on the strings to move the chord again.
  • Do this several times in a row while keeping your arm as relaxed as possible (only your fingers should move). Do 10-20 repetitions of the first chord. Then do 10-20 repetitions for the second chord.

This exercise builds your muscle memory to properly and effectively catch each chord. Your fingers are learning to move quickly together (more on this below).

Don’t worry about master chord transitions yet.

Keep your left hand relaxed during this step. Place your right hand on the shoulder of your left hand to confirm that it is relaxed.

Step Three: Practice with the metronome

master chord transitions

This is the most important step. If you don’t have one, you can use this online metronome.

Set the metronome to a speed of 60 and the tempo to 4 counts. Hold the first chord, let it be C major. You can play the chord or not, you will focus on your left hand. Now the metronome counts for you 4 counts 1 – 2 – 3 – 4. During these counts, you will move to the second chord, which is G major for example.

If the speed is high, you can reduce it to a speed of 40 or even 30. The important thing is that you move from one chord to the other with your hand relaxed and without any tension. This is very important.

Focus on these points:

  • Keep the fingers close to the strings. The less your fingers need to move, the faster they will reach the second chord.
  • Learn about the common fingers. Common fingers play the same fret on the same string on both chords (or stay on the same string on both chords). Keep those fingers on the string (whenever possible) to reduce unnecessary movement.
  • Move the fingers slowly as necessary to complete the chord change smoothly and correctly. Watch your left hand at every moment of the transition. Make sure the hand lands in the correct position for the new chord.

After playing the second chord, slowly return to the first chord (reversing the chord change). Continue practicing moving from one chord to the next for several minutes.

Step Four: Accelerate

Increase the speed by 20, that is, if you started at a speed of 60, increase it to 80 and do the exercise again for a few minutes. Then increase the speed to 100 and do the exercise again.

All of this while practicing for 4 beats. Now go back to the speed of 60 again, but this time 3 beats, 1 – 2 – 3. This means that you now have 3 counts to change chords, not 4 counts. But we lowered the speed to 60.

In this way, we have reduced the time to play the chords on the guitar and the transition between them by one bar. This is the way to master chord transitions on guitar!

Continue making the transition and playing the chords on the guitar and increase the tempo to 80 and then to 100.

Go back to speed 60, this time do just 2 counts 1-2 on the metronome. Do the exercise for a few minutes, then move to 80 and then 100.

You can keep going up to 100 reps if you want to move between chords fast, but I think this isn’t necessary if you’re a beginner. I think that if you reach a speed of 100 on the metronome, and you can move between the chords in only two counts at this speed, it is very sufficient.

Master Chord Transitions – Conclusion

I use this technique until now when I find it difficult to move from one chord to another. It’s a technique that puts the transition under a microscope and focuses on playing the chords on the guitar only, without percussion or using the right hand, just focusing on the problem and how to solve it.

You will think that this exercise takes a long time, but I assure you that you can do it in less than 20 minutes.

After that, if you encounter the same chords in any piece of music or song, you will not have to repeat it, as you have practiced it previously, and your left hand will have practiced enough to remember how to master chord transitions, meaning that you will not do this exercise every time you encounter the same chords!

I hope you found this article useful, and the most important thing is that you put it into action, and if you want to leave your opinion in the comments or have any questions, I am here to answer you and help you, good luck.

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[…] If you are struggling with changing between chords, check out this guide on how to master chord transitions in 4 easy steps. […]