Learning Guitar Chords – Top 10 Mistakes

Your fingers are being introduced to fretboard and string, they fumble around and make mistakes, they’re sore, tired and sick of being told what to do.

It’s your job to dig in, because I can assure you all the effort, cursing and determination is worth it in the end.

Take a look at the 10 most common mistakes I have seen from my own experience learning and teaching guitar.

1. Giving Up Way Too Soon

C’mon we all suck at things when we’re learning.

It’s time to give yourself a break, ease up on that negative self talk, mmmm k?

The critical time in learning how to play guitar chords is when you’re almost there but you keep making little mistakes.

Luckily, once you know the shape of the chord and start repeatedly playing it, a little thing called “muscle memory” will take over.

It takes time to develop but once a chord is ingrained in your brain you’ve got it for life.

2. Thinking About Those Dolphins Again

When you are learning a chord it’s really important to visualize where each finger is going to move to, and how it’s going to happen.

Look at where your fingers are now, visualize where they need to be and figure out the shortest distance between them.

Sometimes you won’t have to move half your fingers because they’ll be used in the first chord. A great example of this is Island in the Sun by Weezer.

I guarantee you will speed up your chord changes if you follow these simple steps.

3. Making the Possible, Impossible

Changing from one chord to another, bar after bar, is without a doubt the best way to learn guitar chords. It builds that muscle memory we talked about earlier.

However, if you make it too hard and pick some nasty chord changes like a G7 into a D it can really put you off the idea.

Pick some easy ones first like G to A, E to A, D to G.

4. Avoiding the Finger Gym

Your fingers are amazing things, they’re operated by a complex network of tendons and muscles that reach up through your hand and into your forearm.

When you fret the chord you are telling these muscles to do new things. To make it easier on them you can increase their flexibility and strength by using specialized finger weights, hand grippers, wide scale exercises or just playing your guitar a boatload.

This tip probably applies the most to acoustic guitars, but is good knowledge for an electric as well.

5. Bending Like a Pretzel

Sometimes bending like a pretzel can be a good thing, but not when you’re playing guitar.

After getting your fingers into position, for something like an open A Major chord, strum without looking.

You don’t want to be bending over staring at your fingers, willing them to stay in place, if they move and you hear dead notes maybe have a quick peek, but that’s all.

Muscle memory only works when you give your muscles a chance to remember. If you are constantly watching over them, they’ll never learn.

Just watch this bending like a pretzel business, nobody likes a crick in the neck.

6. Only practicing one chord at a time

This is a bad habit some people get into, and it’s not really their fault, it’s just they way their tutors have been teaching them or that they’re reading a book or tutorial that doesn’t really convey a solid learning process.

By practicing 3 chords at once you’ll find you learn the fingerings for each of them a lot faster than if you learn just one at a time. It has to do with how your brain works,  giving your brain 3 different patterns to memorize in varying orders strengthens the pathways in your brain so that when it comes to remembering that chord your brain is able to bring up the information a lot faster.

Just try it! It works.

7. Leaving your pinky out of sight

This is a weird one, but I see people doing it all of the time! Your fingers should be hovering over the strings of your guitar ALL OF THE TIME. Meaning that when you form a D chord your pinky finger should be hovering somewhere over the high E string or B.

A lot of the time people will tuck their pinky fingers under the fret board or some other weird place, and it really makes it difficult for them to learn more advanced chords later on.

8. Not understanding to root note

The root note of a chord is its bass note, it determines which string you should start strumming or picking from. An E chords root note is an E which is played as the open low E string on your guitar, this means you start strumming or picking from that note.

9. Not picking the chord

Sometimes by strumming the chord you will notice you are hitting a lot of dead notes, however most beginners will stop there and keep strumming until they get it right. It’s kind of like a brute force way to learn guitar chords.

As a more learned student (and reader of my blog) you will know it is better to pick each note separately so you can quickly analyze what string is giving you the dead note. You can then apply more pressure or move the finger slightly to get it into a better position. This can save you a lot of time and heartache.

10. Not using all your senses

I believe the best way to learn is to engage all your senses in the activity, you should be seeing the guitar chord in a photo (of someone playing it) in a diagram (of where your fingers should be) and even in a video so you can see how a player gets their fingers into position.

Although sight is a great way to learn, when trying to learn guitar chords you can’t get very far without being able to hear the guitar chord being strummed or picked so you can compare yourself to a professional. Getting information into your brain from every angle is the best way to succeed at learning how to play guitar chords in the shortest amount of time.

Look for tutorials and courses that use a multitude of ways to teach you, not just text!

I haven’t put these tips in any particular order; they’re all solid gold tips to being able to learn guitar chords faster than anyone else. I’d suggest writing down each method onto a piece of paper and start using it in your daily practice, you’ll be surprised at how fast you can see results.

Comments

  • Teach Yourself Guitar said:on 14 October, 2009

    Good points, especially number 1. You have to really want to learn to succeed at guitar. Too many people give up early on.

    Respond to this comment

  • How To Play Guitar Chords said:on 14 October, 2009

    Hi,
    Thanks for the info.

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  • Swami said:on 20 October, 2009

    I’m a total beginner in Guitar playing since 1 month. All the tips are morale boosting.

    These tips are really good… Your page is bookmarked.

    Thanks

    Respond to this comment

  • vishwanath said:on 6 November, 2009

    Really ,the tips enhances the confidence of the newbie, and not to GIVE UP the Practice.

    thanks
    vishu

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  • Amir said:on 8 November, 2009

    Great tips! thanks.
    I would also add: not learning the theory behind the music. Understanding how chords are formed can help you tremendously in memorizing and building them.

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  • Guitar Instructions said:on 9 November, 2009

    Awesome post about the mistakes that people make when learning chords. It’s very common to find in guitar instructions that people do not practice chords properly.

    Very nice, I’ll keep looking back every so often. :)

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  • Shan said:on 9 November, 2009

    I once tried learning guitar but on my third day I gave up already, it’s really hard for me at that time, I badly want to learn guitar but it seems like I just can’t play even a single song and it’s really hard to switch from one chord to another. And now I’m planning to learn guitar again, thanks for your article, I’m sure this will help me soon.

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  • danny said:on 18 November, 2009

    thanks for the tips i havent started playing just yet but im going too keep this all in mind when i start

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  • piedotcom said:on 23 November, 2009

    thanks for the tips…

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  • ms_jpo said:on 2 December, 2009

    Great advice, especially No. 1. Thanks.
    I plan on trying the three chords tip.

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  • loopdoop said:on 3 December, 2009

    Thanks! I will recommend this to all my friends.

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  • guitar speed said:on 10 December, 2009

    All solid advice. Taking your time to when setting up the fingers is perfectly acceptable, because this process will get quicker over time. That’s a big one actually.

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  • Jessie said:on 27 December, 2009

    Hi. I plan to be a Country Music artist when I grow up. I have the voice, I believe, but I figured I needed to learn to play the guitar. I got one for Christmas, 2 or 3 days ago, and have been playing with it since then. I have trouble with bar chords, like B, and transitioning from one chord to another. I recently found the chords for the song Never Alone, by BarlowGirl, and B happens to be a major one. These tips helped a lot with everything else, but do you have any for bar chords?

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  • IWONTQUIT said:on 29 December, 2009

    Just wanted to say thanks for taking your time to type this up.
    Im sure it will help me out alot.

    Amir do you have any recommended websites were i can read up on the formation of chords?

    Respond to this comment

  • Chris said:on 30 December, 2009

    I just started guitar and have been trying to learn by myself and I haven’t started lessons yet. I have been thinking of giving up but your tips changed that.

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  • Matt M said:on 18 January, 2010

    Very nice, sir. I’ve never seen anyone talk about your 7th point before, although it’s extremely common.

    Your second point about visualizing success is also very important, yet I’ve yet to hear anyone mention it before.

    Very nice set of Virtual guitar lessons

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  • Tony said:on 19 January, 2010

    Great list. Very helpful info for the first timers

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  • Richard said:on 21 January, 2010

    Hi, you have very good advice for the newby, I always had trouble useing my pinky when I first started playing.

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  • Paul Morgan said:on 21 January, 2010

    yeah thats pretty cool and I also learnt guitar by using tutorials but I used a whole bunch of very cool vids about every single technique out there. Now 1 year after I started to learn this stuff I am pretty good at it and I also play in a good nujazz Band. I used this program http://iobic.de/11619. There are other ones,too. But I spent a lot of money for some shitty programs and in the end I found this one. First I thougt ” WOW, I will never learn this”.But now I am pretty good and I probably get the advanced package.

    Greetz Paul

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  • Online Guitar Learning said:on 6 February, 2010

    Hi, excellent points! Especialy no.1! Any new skill we want to learn, we have to be persistent to learn them. Learning to play the Guitar is no different!

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  • Chris said:on 8 February, 2010

    Great article, really helpfull

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  • Nguyen Viet Thai said:on 9 February, 2010

    I’m making these 3, 5 and 10 mistakes.
    These ideas you gave me really help…
    Thanks a lot!

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  • Guitar Builder said:on 5 March, 2010

    Good points! I hadn’t thought of keeping the little pinky close to the strings, even though I have played for years, and do it instinctively. That is one tip I can pass on to others that are learning to play the guitar.

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  • Mike Foster said:on 15 March, 2010

    Moving from chord progressions to sinlge notes is a big one – its fantastic when you get it though. Great blog.

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  • Nic said:on 15 March, 2010

    tip 6 really does speed up the process, also tip 8 is gold if you take time to know the strings before you just simply start following chord tabs

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  • Johnny said:on 15 March, 2010

    tch… it’s just impossible not given up early, since i’m trying to play for like a whole year and no good results.
    i can play the chords, but i spend like 5 sec. to place my fingers in the right position and most of the times they sound weird.
    So tell me, how not given up with some suck skills like that? Plus I’m not one of those proud people who think “i can do it, i’ll just have to train”. I just dont have any self-esteem, so that’s make even hard to make me get the guitar and think i’ll do it.
    Why the chords have to be so hard to sound good? Why i can’t place my fingers in the right positon in a quick way ? Please don’t tell me “you just have to train more”, ’cause like i said i’m trying to learn for a whole year and no results…
    Oh well, i guess i’ll have to be a normal person in the world, with an ordinary job and to real talent…

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  • admin said:on 16 March, 2010

    Hey Johnny, I’ve been pretty busy in other areas and haven’t had a chance to approve or respond to anyone on this site, but your comment caught my attention…

    Why?

    Because I’ve been there. Although I was lucky enough to have a tutor guide me through it and I feel that you’re trying to teach yourself guitar without solid guidance… and the Internet is full of people just trying to sell you stuff when you need specific advice to your problem.

    I don’t think anything I say here is going to magically get you past this road block, but I might be able to get you to hang in there just a little bit longer.

    First of all, 5 seconds for a chord change… fine, that’s a starting point. If you were one of my students I’d get you to run through the open chords and find three that you’re most comfortable playing, most of the time people can manage the E, G, D and C before they get the A and F down.

    If you can play just the G, D, C then you’ve got yourself a chord progression and playing those chords in order will sound nice.

    Before you even try to do chord changes just practice getting your fingers in the right positions, I used to sit in front of the TV while my GF was watching Friends and just practiced pushing down hard on the strings, it build up my finger strength and I wasn’t even strumming… this took weeks!

    Oh, and make sure your guitar is in tune, or whatever you play will sound terrible :-) Get a tuner, download the free tuners on your iPod touch, or get a friend to tune it… whatever it takes.

    Now back to the chord changes, relax, 5 seconds is a good start. If you can play a G, take 5 seconds to get to the D, then another 5 to the C then back to G you’ve got yourself a practice routine.

    How often could you practice that? And please remember you don’t make improvements in one practice session, you need rest, you need sleep, you need to let your muscle memory do its thing.

    That’s all I can recommend right now, and as I said I don’t think this will magically resolve your problem but I do hope it gets you to hang in there just a bit longer, for those of us without musical backgrounds learning the guitar is a lot harder, I don’t care what the “guru’s” say, it took me freakin’ ages to get anywhere but once I stopped and looked at how far I’d come (not comparing myself to the ideal but rather where I was in the past) I was happy, and it gave me the motivation to carry on and persevere.

    Take it easy man, and good luck!

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  • blisken said:on 19 March, 2010

    IT sounds like some good advice to me… I started playing about 10 years ago and I’m still not that good cause i always gave up when it got to frustrating.

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  • Janie said:on 24 March, 2010

    Thanks for the good and encouraging advice! I’m very new with guitar and now that I’m learning chords, I find it very hard to stretch my fingers over to the correct strings without touching the other ones. I am a female with short fingers! Help!

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  • Sell My Gold? said:on 9 April, 2010

    actually any one know a good solid respectable market to trade your gold … these folks? Selling Gold

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  • Jefferson Alexandre said:on 13 April, 2010

    Don’t forget the pinky!

    I’m serious trouble, because I learn the basic chords (D, G, E, A, C) whitout put my pinky on fret board, and now, i want learn the F, B, E7 and B7, but pinky don’t obey me. :P

    People, put the pinky on fretboard. It will save a lot of time when you want learn other chords.

    Adam, congrats for these great tips.

    [ ] ‘s

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  • Pingback: 5 Tips On How To Switch Chords On Guitar | Get Hot On Electric Guitar

  • Christian Praise said:on 22 April, 2010

    I am so thankful to have happened across this page. I am just starting to learn guitar and also find it frustrating. I think what you said about not looking at what you don’t know but look back from where you have come from and that makes a difference. In any area of music we are going to find others who are much more accomplished musicians than us. In piano lets say we can’t be all Liberace, in guitar we can’t all be Jimmy Hendrix, at least not without a lot of practice.
    When I was living in Germany, I had to learn the language and remember crying because it seemed so hard. Once I let up on myself and didn’t try to be perfect, the language actually came together on it’s own.
    We need to remember not to try and look at where we want to be, but just work on what we know now and keep doing that until it is mastered.
    Thanks again
    Christian Praise

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  • Colin said:on 30 April, 2010

    I am learning how to play guitar and have only been playing for about a month and it is frustrating because i don’t seem to be going anywhere or learning anything at any rate alot of it confuses me and i don’t like my guitar- aria stg-series a stratocaster copy, i will keep playing anyways though and try to get a new guitar.

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    • Adam Summers said:on 10 May, 2010

      Hey Colin. I had the same feeling after buying my first guitar… I got it from a pawn shop and convinced myself that just so long as I had a guitar I could work hard to make it sound good… I finally realized if I was going to take this seriously I needed to find a way to get a “real” guitar… I went with the Fender Telecaster (Made in the USA) and it made a phenomenal difference to my feelings towards playing guitar.

      As for getting frustrated… I think learning music for those of us who never did it as a child is one of the most frustrating experiences we go through in our adult life. With students who feel the same way I try to focus 80% on what they’re able to do, and make it better, and 20% on new material. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with so many things to learn, and sometimes you get sidetracked from your dream by trying to learn everything you can do on the guitar instead of focusing on just learning what you need to know to achieve your goals.

      I really do hope you keep up with the practice, and try to build a practice routine around the 80% of things you kind of know how to do, and really nail those, before working on the 20% of new things you need to know.

      Cheers,
      Adam

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  • Norma said:on 8 May, 2010

    Hi, I just started playing and I was making about 4 of those mistakes :[ thanks to this, learning has gotten a lot easier, thanks! :D

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    • Adam Summers said:on 10 May, 2010

      Hey, which mistakes were you making in particular Norma, and just out of curiosity do you have a teacher you can get input from on a regular basis?

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  • Fartculeze said:on 8 May, 2010

    1)Metronome.
    2)Tape Recorder.
    3)Log book/ practice diary.

    Metronome; because it doesn’t count if it isn’t in time.

    Tape recorder; forever allows you to harmonize and play over yourself.

    Log book; A reallity check, and a confidence builder.

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    • Adam Summers said:on 10 May, 2010

      Woah, thanks for the input!

      Everyone should take note of this comment, great stuff

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  • Peter Patton said:on 22 May, 2010

    Great post! The only thing I would add is the thumb. A common beginner mistake is wrapping the thumb too much around the neck. This is usually caused by trying to hold the guitar by the neck rather than letting the strap or knee bear the weight of the guitar.

    Peter

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  • Eddie said:on 25 May, 2010

    Hi, great article thanks! Ive been playing for many years now and I have pretty good chops but there´s always something new to be learnt, for instance learning three chords is a real good idea i never thought of… cool
    thanks alot
    keep rockin´

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  • Ewan Crowhurst said:on 13 June, 2010

    Hi.

    Im hosting a guitar chord finder to help beginners to intermediate guitarists learn new chord fingerings. Comments welcome.

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  • Simon said:on 21 June, 2010

    Thanks, those are awesome tips! :D

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  • Mybbor said:on 6 July, 2010

    Great tips. I found this really useful. One thing I would add is to use a metronome, playing along with recordings, or other musicians. Working on your sense of timing early and often will pay off tons later on!

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  • Van said:on 22 July, 2010

    I am a learning guitarist. Here are the few tips which works like magic, though I am not an expert.

    1. Imagine the chord finger position rather than string positions (when taken out from fret board). Try to practicse this hand/finger shape whenever you find time (while travelling or at work, ofcourse without gutiar). Suddenly one day when you take the guitar try to place that shape in fret board you are surprised to see that the chord will sit right perfectly and waiting for a strum.

    2. I hope everyone is busy and find extremely difficult to squeeze time for practice, however practice atleast 30 mins a day, even on a very hectic day with no mood to play just touch the guitar for 15 mins. This will be really helpful to progress.

    3. Dont get into advance topics in internet that may lead to frustration and you feel like novice when you see a topic that you cant understand.

    4. I can very much compare learning guitar with my typing class. When I started learning blind fold-typewriting the tutor asked me to start like this…

    a-s-d-f-g-f — l-k-j-h-j, without much questioning I keep doing this for 3 days and then shifted to other sequence. Within 2 months everything fell in place like jig-saw and I was typing sentences !!!! I sincerely believe the same fingers which has ability to learn typing can remember guitar as well.

    5. Read only success stories that will boost your morale.

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  • Amir said:on 27 July, 2010

    Hi,
    I am in my forth lesson and I have managed to remember all the basic 14 major and minor chords and even the #’s . I can also play some easy common songs like wonder wall, little bit of nothing else matters..The downsize is that I practice for more than 3-4 hours a day..I just cannot get the chord right If i am not looking at the strings..I have no issues with bar chords but my eyes need to be on the strings

    I would like to know if my pace is fine..At times i do get frustrated coz I take around 2 seconds to change the chords..I have made up my mind of not giving up..

    Please advise

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  • socc3rgirl said:on 27 July, 2010

    I’ve been practicing the song Hero by Sterling Knight for two days straight and i get so frustrated when i can’t move my fingers to a Cm. But these tips are really helpful so im going to try the three chord thing. Hopefully, it’ll work. Thankyou :) !

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  • Tempo Music Cards said:on 1 August, 2010

    Great list! I feel very strongly with number 6 – learning one chord at a time. It always amazes me how people will buy books filled with chords and not learn any of them. Focusing on only a few chords at a time will do wonders to your playing but you must make sure you don’t try to learn too many chords at once. Focusing on 2-3 chords at once is a lot more productive than focusing on 10 chords at once. Take small steps.

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  • Dave said:on 9 September, 2010

    Reply to Johnny:

    Read this article carefully again. Use the easiest chords, E, G, C,D. All use only three fingers. Practice switching between them daily for 10 min. if your finger tips can stand it. If it is too hard to press the strings down there are several things that you can do to help that. Restring the guitar with Extra Light strings. Don’t use a hard pick, use a thin pick on these strings you will get plenty of sound for practice. Don’t strum them hard either, they do break easier then medium strings will. New guitars will come strung with either medium or light strings. Go to a local independent guitar store and have the “action” lowered, to where the strings won’t “buzz”. If your interested in a easy play guitar look for a Zager. where it is already set up for easier playability and comes strung with extra light strings. If you start switching first between two chords, then a third, then a fourth, soon you’ll be able to play hundreds of songs. Check these websites for song which use easy chords:
    http://www.guitarsongs.info/index.html
    http://www.guntheranderson.com/v/toc.htm.

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  • Dave said:on 9 September, 2010

    When you say, “It’s going to suck at first”, you should have mentioned the physical infirmities that are also involved. Your finger tips WILL HURT!!! You have to press down hard on the strings to get a clear sound. I started playing chords when I was about 16. I gave it up after a year or so, now I’m 57 and have been playing chords for about 3 years now. I can’t play barre chords yet, but I keep trying, arthritis and all. Since I’ve gotten my Zager guitar I’m getting a lot closer to getting them played.

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  • bubbly123 said:on 12 September, 2010

    could you tell me how to read tabs theyre really confusing

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  • Aunee said:on 25 September, 2010

    thanks man, helped me alot :)

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  • Matui said:on 4 October, 2010

    its weird with me, i had absolutely no idea on any of the chord names when i started but i played them really smoothly, ive only been playing guitar properly for about 8 months and as soon as i picked it up i was playing major 7th chords and even augmented even though i had no idea what the chords were called. as i progressed i learnt the chord names and what not (except for suspended, i still dont get them) and i became better. but i just want to know how i naturally knew these things.

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  • Nobody Important said:on 16 November, 2010

    Press on! Nothing in the world can take the place of persistance.Talent will not-nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent;genius will not-unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.Education will not-the world is full of educated
    derelicts.Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

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  • Guitar Joe said:on 21 November, 2010

    Good Points you’ve mentioned in your post. I want to add two different points and it’s good for every subject you want to learn:
    1. you can’t learn new things if you think you know everything. Be humble and open your
    mind for new ideas.
    2. Never compare your progress with others,
    you may become bitter or vain,
    for always there will be greater and lesser progress than yours.
    The only compare you can make is to your own progress. Try to remember what your level of knowledge was one two or three months ago.
    God bless, and be a good person.

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  • Newbie said:on 28 December, 2010

    I’ve got a problem with moving my fingers to the chords.It takes me like 10 seconds to get to the next chord and I don’t press hard enough on the strings so there’s no sound.I’ve played for only 3 days and I sucked and I gave up because 2 days ago i was playing and two of my strings broke (because I didn’t know how to tune them and I tried tuning them in by hearing…that didn’t go very well…) and I played without a pick so yesterday my dad took me to a music store (i’m 12) and he bought me 3 picks, replacement strings,and a tuner :) I broke my tuner (I think…because it doesn’t even turn on) and I didn’t replace my strings yet because what’s the point of replacing them if I can’t tune them in anyways.So tomorrow my dad is gonna take me back to the music store so they can hopefully give me an unbroken tuner :) I don’t take any guitar classes and I’m not planning on either because I can’t afford it so I learn from the internet (YouTube).Well…that’s all…bye :)

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  • Josh said:on 4 January, 2011

    Just got a new guitar for christmas and only just started to really get into it, this stuff really helped, thanks

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  • Californication Guitar Lesson said:on 9 February, 2011

    Check out this californication guitar lesson!
    That’s a good one, seriously…

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  • Jarret said:on 14 February, 2011

    These are all great tips! Check out guitar tricks on you tube also for some helpful free lessons. Find a friend around your skill level to jam with, or just to keep it a friendly competition. Either will keep you motivated!!

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  • Liam Knight said:on 9 March, 2011

    This is one awesome useful site. Thanks

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  • MR_why said:on 11 March, 2011

    WOW! ..my spine was struck by something cold or what-so-ever in just reading this. this is EXACTLY what i’ve been doing in my first week of guitar-learning (except number 6).. what i do is practice to play a song… simple ones (those without Flats like F and B chord)… i use those 2 in my second week. took me a week before making it sound perfect. :)) silly me. but now i can play any song (except swift picking)

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  • NOB said:on 15 March, 2011

    Use your pinky for the dm chord b-string 3rd fret!
    Lern the easy (open) chords first (em, am, dm)
    Beginn with two fingers in various positions on various strings (=part of the chords) with all (underline all) your fingers two by two.

    AND ADD TIPP 11:
    Allways controll the position of your thumb under the wood!

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  • chris said:on 21 March, 2011

    thank you soooooo much i needed that!

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  • CM of http://cupcaits.blogspot.com/ said:on 7 April, 2011

    These are some amazing tips! As a beginner I found them very useful. One thing you might want to try is closing your eyes. I found when I first began a guitar was such a foreign thing to get used to. By closing my eyes I was that much more focused and became familiar with the guitar very quickly.

    Caits M

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  • Dan said:on 30 April, 2011

    I’ve had a dream to play guitar since I was 8 and starting taking lessons. I quit within 6 month because cords were very frustrating. I played lots of sports and thought it would be easy. 26 years old now and know how to pick and play intros to lots of songs, been 3 months now. I love knowing how to play a little of my favorite songs so much I am gradually learning cords. In my opinion teaching cords early in one’s exposure to guitar makes people quit. Teach them their favorite easy songs that is just picking and they will have fun and want to learn cords. Just my experience.

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    • Adam Summers said:on 16 June, 2011

      Hey Dan, yeah that’s a good point. When I started I came from more of a geek background so I wanted to know all the things like how chords were constructed and what chord progressions were, I read a lot… but when I started actually playing it was my favorite songs that kept me going… I’ll be sure to do some posts on learning songs- thanks

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  • Ally said:on 3 May, 2011

    Really good help.
    I have just started playing guitar and I now know things to watch out for.

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  • Jake said:on 7 May, 2011

    Good Tips, wish i had this earlier on, discipline is key for guitar, once you gain more confidence in the fingers; you will succeed and enjoy your playing : )

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  • Simon said:on 19 May, 2011

    There is an iPhone/iPad app called Chord Tutor which gives you chords to play and tells you how well you played it. Its quite amazing…

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    • Adam Summers said:on 16 June, 2011

      Thanks for the heads up, if anyone has tried it out let me know what you thought? I’ll give it a go after work tonight

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  • SheeZone Andrawos said:on 13 June, 2011

    hey, it’s rly easy to use en easy to learn, nice article, very helpful, great advice, anyway thnx 4 info …. ;-)

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  • jdm said:on 18 June, 2011

    Thanks man! It helped me! Thanks a lot! :D :)

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  • Sarah said:on 19 June, 2011

    Great tips!

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  • cdinwv said:on 26 June, 2011

    These are wonderful tips on here and beneficial for everyone. There is tons to learn but never quit having or making fun with the guitar. The more you do it and hold a guitar in your hands, the better you will become. I love music and writing. Writing and music are my two biggest hobbies. The bad part is that I am tone deaf pretty much when it comes to singing but it doesn’t stop me because I make it fun! Sing like no one is watching, strum a guitar like no one is watching or listening either. I tried for 6 months when I was 19 to play a piano. My fingers and ears could never pick up either and I had a great teacher but couldn’t feel it. My best friend and I got acoustic guitars. The freebies on YouTube, chord charts, tips, progression and everything you need is pretty much free on the Internet. Even if you only pick the guitar up once a day, make that your 10 minutes of fun. FInd a song and make it a bonding journey to keep learning music fun. My biggest fun I have that helped me learn was to google a song and find the 2 most played chords in a song I wanted to learn. I would play the song on my computer and practice strumming with only the two chords and doing song progression with only two chords. The Internet has everything to help you. No, it won’t sound perfect but it will help build confidence, fun and keep from getting burnt out in learning. The perfection of playing guitar will come in time and practice. Even the greatest players practice many hours a day, but the fun factor of playing a guitar, even for tone deaf people like me, is proof that every one can learn music, play an instrument, but it takes time, dedication and learning. I did create my own handwritten chord charts using one chord an index card and just practice playing various chords and learning them, like a mix and match puzzle. It may sound primitive taking notes on pen and paper and making up one’s own game. But don’t let the guitar win. Make your own game plan for your learning style and give playing time the dedication that it takes. Also, what goal do you want with a guitar? Mine is only for fun and growing my own brain cells to do something I have always wanted. It didn’t always sound great all the time but it is making music by my own hands and I made learning fun for me. Good luck and have fun:)

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  • bob said:on 28 June, 2011

    thanx…juz wanted to ask hw do u find guitar chords man???itz kind f a problem fr me..

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  • savannah said:on 28 June, 2011

    thankyou so much these tips helped alot i’ve had my guitar for 2 years and only just started guitar lessons end of last year and sonce i had done all of your tips i and my guitar teacher can see howmuch i have improved and can now play eye of the tiger and bon jovi and even ac/dc just in a number of weeks thankyou

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  • Beginner said:on 28 June, 2011

    I’ve been playing jazz for a while, and am only now starting jazz guitar. Is it smart to begin with chords, or should I learn to read first, or scales?

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  • Daniel ramos said:on 6 July, 2011

    Thank you so much for this and for your blog. Some of us are still learning and get into roadblocks and get into these periods of frustration that you think your not learning. I think the best advice would be to keep that attitude of learning and humility. God bless!

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  • Hayley said:on 14 July, 2011

    Okay well, I’ve been playing guitar for a couple months now and I’m starting to feel like giving up… I don’t have long musicians fingers so the chords are difficult and I’m just getting really discouraged, these tips helped but I stopped having fun with it, now it just feels like work…. Any advice…?

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  • Eric said:on 17 July, 2011

    I don’t know if you guys understand , but to me playin’ guitar is like a sacred , mysterious , n complex code once you break it you would be able to play any song , any song at all with your eyes closed. I been playin’ guitar for almost 9 months n that what i came to find out. I strongly believe that i would break that code , its only a matter of time.

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  • rishi said:on 19 July, 2011

    w0w great tips…never quit playing it will come ….have faith in yourself and in universe..cheerz

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  • peter kerry said:on 19 July, 2011

    hi! i have been praticing the guitar now for about 2weeks.and my fingers still hurt lol..just going on you tube looking at bits.just learning all the wrong stuff really, now i go on next level guitar.com. its free membership for 3 days but i just keep changing my email address to get more free days lol. the video lessons are so helpfull
    now i can play Em,E,Am.C.D.A.G and Cadd9.
    and i have 2 strum patterns too!..just nearly there with the cord changes while playing cords with a strum pattern..so bloody hard but i know im nearly there now.
    but anyway you wanna use that site very helpfull!!!good luck in your quest guys!!!

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  • Tomas Michaud said:on 9 August, 2011

    These are great tips Adam. I really like how you’ve included some of the less obvious but incredibly important aspects like “Visualizing Success”. I realize the importance of this much more as I get older and more accomplished. I like “Giving Up Too Soon”. No matter how talented you are, you’re dead in the water if you give up.

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  • James said:on 14 August, 2011

    @Newbie, you can find guitar tuners online buddy =P

    one of the worst looking (but best working) iv found is here =)
    http://www.tunemybass.com
    do a search for online guitar tuner and you’ll find tons of them out there.

    pick the instrument and number of strings, the tuning you want (or make a custom one) and away you go =D

    @OP, thanks for the tips =) good stuff in there I havent seen elsewhere and ive been around the proverbial block the past week or so. thanks for the fyi =)
    fingers have gotten soft since the last time i picked this thing up. cheap acoustic with high action, ouch! oh well, I like it rough though so i’ll do what I can each day till the ole fingers get back in shape.

    @bubbly123, meh. tabs show the strings highest sounding on top, lowest sounding on bottom, upside down is how my brain tells me it looks. usually they give you a number 0 being open,anything else being a fret or they just give you the chords depending on the type of song. understanding them takes a little patients, remembering them takes alot of practice =P

    @lots of people, freeandeasyguitar.com has lots of popular songs to learn for beginner and intermediate players. I personally started with an acronym to remember the strings, then learned natural notes, then the sharps/flats, then chords. seems like a solid choice for the self teaching crowd. probably go to scales next, then bar chords. im not an instructor, dont know instructors, cant afford one either so this is all just my personal mumbling. hope it helps someone =P

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  • Redswanne said:on 23 August, 2011

    I’ve been playing since March and I’ve rarely had any of these problems, I’ll have my finger hovering away from the fret board but not tucked under it, I’ve had a lot of people tell menu was amazing right off the bat…. I learned Smoke
    On The Water in the first day I had the guitar, in less then an hour
    I had it perfect, I could only name a few chords but I can play a ton of them, I learned my first full song in about a week as well lol
    So pretty much I’m agreeing with you in some cases, stay with the guitar IT’S WORTH IT!!!! I play for hours and I have to pry myself from the guitar to go eat or go to bed lol, its lots of fun though so do stick with it, not everyones great right off the bat, I’d never touched a guitar in my life until march and I’m doing things on my own without a teacher… Sure it’s rough sometimes but NEVER give up… It’s worth it in the end :)

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  • bob said:on 30 August, 2011

    Good tips im 60 been trying to play since i was about 13 on and off`.Dont give in ,im having lessons with a good teacher as well as looking at this site and in a month ive come further in that time than all the years before.At times you may think your not doing very well ,dont give i refuse too and im getting on fine now.

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  • Jaimesha said:on 1 October, 2011

    Thank you so much! This really helped ALOT! I just never seem to be able to move my fingers fast on the frets

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  • Rob said:on 9 October, 2011

    Thanks for these great tips! I started 3 months ago. Surprisingly I never had any of these problems except bending over. Fortunately I don’t give things up fast so I really had the idea in my head that “I must keep practising to get better”. One of my friends gave me my first “lessons” (he has been playing the guitar for 4 years). He showed me the basic chords, the A, D, G, E, F, G7, G/B and he made a “song” for me from these chords. When I first tried to form the first 2 chords with my fingers they didn’t want to accept my command :). It took me about 8 sec to do the chords. BUT I didn’t even think about giving up! He made another song with these chords but that one was played by picking the notes one by one. So I practised these chords (and some new ones) and now (after 3 months of practice) I can form the chords in about 0.5-1 sec! So take the tips from this site and DON’T GIVE UP! Be self confident! If you tell yourself you can’t learn it how do you think you will get anything out of your practise?? Seriously think about the fact the world’s greatest guitar players started playing just like you. BUT THEY WANTED TO LEARN IT!

    Short version: You really have to want learn how to play the guitar! Practise a lot! Don’t give up! Set goals for yourself! Take the tips from this site! :)

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