Learning Guitar Chords – Top 10 Mistakes

Learning guitar chords does not have to be difficult, but there are some mistakes that many beginners make that can be avoided.

The Top 10 Mistakes

1. Giving up too soon

No matter what you decide to learn, you will not get it right on the first try. This is especially true of guitar. When you learn the guitar chords, chances are that you will have some trouble, but you must stick with it. Many beginners give up on a chord at the worst possible time. They learn the finger position, and they can occasionally strum it cleanly, but they see no improvement from this point. Once you get to this point, it’s only a matter of time. You have the basics, you just need to keep practicing.

2. Lack of visualization

When you are forming a chord, visualization is very important. You have to “see” where each finger is going to move to before it happens. The best way to speed up your chord changes is to look at where your fingers currently are, and think about where they need to be. Then, you visualize the shortest route they need to take to get there. There are times when you won’t need to move much, because some of the basic chords use common notes.

3. Challenging yourself too much

Chord changes, or progressions, are the best way to master guitar chords. The problem is that many beginners choose difficult progressions, and get discouraged when they can’t get it right. Make sure you choose easier progressions, like G to A, E to A, or D to G. They might seem easy, but repetition will train you for the more advanced chord changes.

4. Lack of finger strength

Beginning guitarists do not understand the value of finger strength. This should be obvious, since the fingers are used to play the guitar. To build up your finger strength, a great thing to try is wide scale exercises. Also, there are other exercises involving pushing down hard on the string of your guitar, finger press-ups, or even finger weights.

5. Looking at your hands too often

Once you learn to play guitar chords, you should be able to do so without looking at your hands. The finger position should become second nature. You don’t see professionals looking down all the time while they’re playing, do you? You should be able to switch between open chords without looking at your hands.

6. Practicing one chord at a time

Through the use of books, videos, or even instructors, beginning guitarists have gotten into the habit of practicing only one guitar chord at a time. This is a huge mistake, and will actually take longer to learn. The best and fastest way to learn chords is in groups of three. When you give your brain a varying pattern of three chords to learn, this is more likely to solidify the information. It will help you remember the fingering, and it will help you learn chord progressions.

7. Hiding your pinky

It seems a little odd, but a great deal of beginners tend to move their pinky out of the way when it is not in use. All of your fingers should be hovering over the fretboard at all times. Getting into this habit will help you learn more advanced chords later.

8. Not understanding the root note

Many people do not know what the root note of a chord is. The root note is a chord’s bass note. It determines what string you begin strumming from. For example, the root note of an E chord is an E, played by strumming an open low E string, or your thickest string. What this means is that you begin strumming from the E string when you are playing an E chord.

9. Not picking the chord

When beginners are playing guitar chords, they will often notice dead notes within the chord. Usually, this is caused by a fingering problem. Many beginners will simply keep strumming the chord until they get it right. This is a brute force method of learning, and a great deal of wasted practice time. To avoid this, try picking the chord instead. By picking each individual string, you can isolate the problem area more efficiently. Then, you can apply more pressure on that string or fix your finger position to get a better note.

10. Not using all your senses

To make it easy to learn guitar chords, you should look at every angle. You should look at pictures of someone playing the chord, look at a chord chart, and even watch a video of someone playing the chord. This will help you learn where your fingers should be, and how to get them there. Of course, you can’t play a chord correctly until you have heard the way it is supposed to sound, as well. Processing all of this information will help you visualize the correct technique.