Basic dos and donts and howtos
- First and most
important rule: PRACTICE VERY SLOWLY!
A slow, but correct and exact
movement can be accelerated easily. An unprecise movement won´t work, neither
in slow nor in quick tempo.
- Find a sitting
position, in which the head of the guitar is not too far away from you (your
nose should be about above the 12th fret) and about at the height
of your own head.
- Don´t turn the guitar
- Take care, that your
shoulder is hanging relaxed, and that your elbow doesn’t touch your
- Make sure, you don’t
need your left hand to keep the guitar in position. It must be able to move
- Always keep your thumb
stretched (about opposite to the middle finger) and turned a little to the
- An imaginary line
between the basic joints of the fingers should always be parallel to the
fretboard (even with chords like D or A)
- The basic joints of
your fingers should always be stretched (you shouldn’t see the knuckles); this
enables the fingers to move independently.
- The other joints should
ALWAYS be bent (especially when they don’t have to hold down a string):
stretched fingers cannot reach the strings on a direct way (unless you move
your hand, which you shouldn’t).
- And all fingers should
be in front of the fretboard (not behind the neck), of
- Avoid too much
pressure. About 100gramm pressure is enough to make the string sound (this is very little, you can test it
with letter scales), provided that you hold down the string
As close to the fret as
possible (but not on it)
With the first phalanx
pointing in a right angel to the fretboard (not flatly).
- When you see your
fingers touch each other on the middle joints, you have too much pressure
between first finger and thumb. There should always be some space between the
fingers. The independence between 1st and 2nd finger is
responsible for the range that you can reach with all
- Don’t forget to relax
your fingers, hand, arm and back often!
- For upcoming rock
stars: avoid vitamins, daylight and fresh air! ;-)
step: get an idea of the best movement
- Forget about the
song. Practice every single chord progression in either
“dryly”(without playing), just using your left hand. Always watch if you
keep the rules above.
- Before you change
chord: have an imagination, how the new chord will look, feel, sound,
smell (just kidding!)
- Do not move your hand
(or forearm, or elbow or shoulder), just use your
- Beginners often clamp
one finger first (usually the index), and then try to reach the positions of
the others. This is kind of a reflex from birth. DON`T DO THAT. Practice
to organize your fingers in form of the chord above the strings, not
- Make sure, you have
lifted off all fingers that have to be moved, before you start
placing them again for the next chord. the placing can be done one after
the other for the time being, but always go for the bass note
- Watch the movements
of every single finger: there should be not more than two: 1. lifting
off, 2. putting on. No detours.
- Find out if there are
common notes in the two chords, so you can keep fingers in their
position. (Like when you move from C to am: 1. and 2. fingers can stay).
- Find out if you can
move one finger on a string (like from D to E: the first finger can
slide from 2nd to 1st fret)
- Exercises to reduce
pressure and tension:
1. Put on a chord, but DON´T hold strings down,
just touch them. Lift them off and put them on again the same way
(just TOUCHING the strings). Repeat often and carefully.
2. Change two
chords (to and fro) the same way.
step: start playing
VERY IMPORTANT: once you
start playing music, you have by all means to keep the time (even when only
practicing a chord progression)!!!
Use a metronome (or a drum
Choose a very simple
rhythmic pattern; I’d recommend just downstrokes in crotches (on every beat of
While doing that on one
chord, get a feeling for the quavers by counting 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + (say “one and
two and…”). Take care that your right hand moves up exactly on the
Every chord progression
needs a certain amount of time (which will get shorter when you improve). This
time must be before the 1 of the next bar. So when you come to 4
+, lift off the fingers (only those, that have to be moved, of
course). Place them on 1 of the next bar.
KEEP PLAYING the
rhythm, even if you didn’t
succeed completely (or the fingers start bleeding, a string breaks, your house
(You are still at a very slow tempo, aren’t you??)
you are not even close to get the new chord, you had better move back to the
1st step and analyse, what is wrong about your
Are you sure you haven’t
forgotten to move your right hand upward on 4+, because you concentrated
so much on your left???
Find a good interval for
changing the chords: If you change every
bar, your attention and thoughts probably soon will stay back behind the action.
If you wait too long, your fingers will be kind of frozen in the old chord.
I’d recommend changing every two or four bars. Remember, you still change
one pair of chords!
End of lesson. This could
be enough for weeks, months or even years.
You’ll know what the next
steps could be:
- Take the next
progression and practice it the same way.
- Go on, until you have
practiced them all and you succeed in changing them in pairs without losing
- Now remember you want
to learn a song: practice a longer period with more changes. You’ll notice,
it’s fairly easy now; in case it doesn’t work, it’s not your fingers, but your
head that’s too slow. Practice to keep at least one bar ahead with your
thinking or: take a rest.
- You might then try to
choose a more exciting rhythm.
- Try to speed up a
Always keep in mind: if you fail, better
go back one step, where you are safe. Get used to success, not to
Modify this method if necessary! Find out
what works best for you! Don’t follow instructions you don’t understand or you
don’t see a reason for.
This document was
provided by © klaus dibbelt (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Report of feedback and
experiences with this method as well as questions, hints, ideas for
improvements, additions, contradiction much appreciated.
I apologize for my poor
English! I’d be really grateful, if somebody would correct the grammar of this
document and send it back to me.