Chord Changing Made Easier

Many guitar players have a difficult time changing chords on the guitar consistently and reliably. If you struggle with this, playing guitar can become a frustrating experience which will lead to you giving up all together.

You dont have to struggle forever though.  With a few tricks, it is easy to overcome it and learn to play guitar chords smoothly and easily. Mastering this area of guitar technique will make your guitar playing a lot more enjoyable.

Most guitarists who struggle with chord changes on guitar will either give up the dream of learning to play the music they love or continue playing horribly in hopes that the problem will “fix itself” over time. Unfortunately, without an effective approach to practicing guitar chord changes,the problem wont go away.

Here are some tips that I recommend to all of my private students when they are having difficulty with their chord changes:

Tip 1: Isolate

Before you can begin fixing the problem with any difficult chord change you must isolate the exact spot in the music that is giving you trouble. Identify exactly what is going wrong. Simply taking the first step to clearly identify what the problem is will put you one step closer to resolving it. Narrow down the problem area (or areas) of the music that you are trying to play to a specific pair (or several specific pairs) of chord changes that you have a hard time playing.

Tip 2: Form the chord

After you have isolated the specific guitar chords that are giving you trouble, practice fretting each of the two chords individually over and over. To do this, put your fingers on the correct notes for the first chord, then lift them off of the strings and quickly put them back on the strings to fret the chord again. The goal of this exercise is to build your muscle memory to fret the chord correctly with your fingers moving FAST and TOGETHER. After doing this for a few minutes, repeat the same process for the second chord. Don't worry about making the transition between the chords yet, simply practice fretting each chord individually.

Tip 3: Change from chord to chord

After you have practiced fretting the chords individually and can play them with confidence, it is time to begin working on changing from one chord to the next. To do this, fret the first chord, then release the fingers slowly from the strings and begin to gradually form the shape of the second chord in mid-air to complete the chord change.  As you do this, keep the following in mind:

1. Your fingers should not rise high up in the air away from the strings. The closer they are to the strings, the less time is needed to arrive to the new chord.

2. If there are any fingers that need to fret the exact same note for both chords, keep those fingers down on the strings to minimize the movement that your hand needs to make.

3. Your eyes should be following the fretting hand the entire time during the transition to make sure that the hand lands into the right position for the new chord.


Your goal should be to get to the point of being able to play the chord change with all fingers moving FAST and together (just like you did when fretting chords individually).

Tip 4: Puting it all together 

After you feel confident with the steps above, begin practicing the chord change in the broader context of the entire piece you are playing. To do this, isolate a larger section of the song. This will help you to smoothly play the chord change when you encounter it in the actual song.

Applying the steps described in this article will help you to become much more confident with playing your favorite music and enjoy the process of becoming the guitar player you want to be.

To learn more about how to apply the practicing concepts for mastering difficult guitar chord changes, I highly recommend guitar teacher and Youtube celebrity, Marty Schwartz.  Marty has a fantastic online guitar program- GuitarJamz that will not only help you with chord changes, but all aspects of your playing.  Click the banner below to get 10 days of free lessons.

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