How To Easily Master Difficult Chord Changes On Guitar

by Mike Philippov

Chord playing fluency is a critically important area of guitar playing. You need a simple and repeatable method for practicing chords that improves your fretting hand technique and makes any chord change simple to learn.

This guitar practice method makes chord changes feel easy.

Step 1: Master The Biomechanics Of Fretting Chords.

You must pay attention to specific guitar technique elements that make chords effortless to play (without buzzing, string noise or excess tension). These elements include: thumb position, force application (from fingers to the strings) and tension control.

This video show how to practice and master biomechanics of chords on guitar:


Lesson for you: Rotate your attention between each element of fretting hand technique as you learn difficult chords. Form the chord several times, focusing on one element (such as thumb position of the fretting hand), then several times focusing on tension control, then several more times focusing on another element, etc.


This helps you develop correct guitar technique habits that make guitar playing effortless.


Step 2: Eliminate Micro Adjustments With Your Fretting Hand.


You must learn to form any chord without making micro adjustments after the fingers have landed on the frets. This means every finger must land on its respective fret at exactly the right spot (right next to the fret wire). Making micro adjustments (moving the fingers on the frets after the chord is formed) creates sloppy noises and hesitations in your playing. This kills your fluency and speed during chord changes.


Solution: Practice “grabbing” the chord with your fretting hand many times. Start with the fretting hand by your side. Pick the hand up and fret the notes of the chord you are trying to master. Your goal is to make the fingers land on exactly the right spot on the frets. Make mental notes of any finger that needs to adjust its position after the chord is fretted. Repeat this step, focusing on those fingers more. Continue this step until you can form the chord accurately without thinking.


Step 3: Master The Chord Change Slowly.


Practice transitioning from one chord to the next. Do this as slowly as necessary to make the transition perfect. Pay particular attention to:


  1. avoiding micro adjustments with the fingers after each chord is formed.
  2. keeping the integrity of fretting hand biomechanics intact.


Your goal in this step is to build the foundation for flawless chord changes and drill the technique with proper motions. This builds a new habit in your playing and helps you do the next step of the process.


Important: do not rush during this step! Play as slowly as it takes to keep your technique perfect!


Step 4: Gradually Work Up To Speed With Metronome.


Take out your metronome and work up your speed of doing your chord change the same way you practice lead guitar techniques.


Set the metronome to a slow tempo and do the chord change in 8 clicks. Strum the first chord on the first click and take 8 clicks to change from one chord to the next. Keep the fretting hand shoulder relaxed the entire time.


Gradually reduce the number of clicks it takes you to change chords. Go from 8 clicks to 6, to 4, to 2, to 1. Then increase the metronome tempo and repeat the process.


Implement these steps to master the hardest chord changes in your guitar playing.


About the author. Mike Philippov is a guitar instructional author and progressive rock guitar player. He trains guitar players all over the world on the best ways to practice guitar.