In this part of the series, we are going to look at some of the challenges beginner guitar players have with their chords and strumming and on top of that look at how you can be practising your songs more efficiently so you can get more progress in less time.
How to make your chords sound better
It is very common for beginner guitar players to struggle to get their chords to sound “good”. One of the problems they get with their chord playing is this buzzy sound. If this is something you get when you play your chords, then look at how we can resolve that.
What often happens is they get their chord shape with their fingers perfectly, and when they press down, the strings are not in contact with the fretboard hard enough. Which is what produces this sound. Now to resolve it, you can either press the strings down harder, which would be more work. Or you can try to get your fingers closer to the fret lines. This means you don’t have to put as much pressure down but you will still get a cleaner sound.
So like the image below, try to get your fingers just behind the fret lines and play. See how little pressure you can use to produce a clear sound from your chords.
Getting your strumming to sound better
We are going to look at why some beginner guitar players get this blocky-like sound when they strum. When they go up and down the guitar, it’s a strum one way and then the other. If you get this too then read on.
First of all, you need to stop thinking about your strumming hand as turning on or off a switch when you strum. Try to picture your strumming hand as a paintbrush that can vary it’s pressure and stroke to make more interesting lines on a canvas.
Try this, when you strum down, play the top three strings (4-6) slowly and then carry on through faster through the last three strings (3-1) .
When you get comfortable with that, repeat for strumming upwards as well. Going through the top strings (1-3) slowly and then quickly through the bottom three strings (4-6).
Can you hear how much more interesting this sounds already? Now try doing it up and down together.
Once you get the hang of it, try doing this with any strumming patterns that you have. It should make your strumming now more melodic, delicate and interesting.
Practising songs in a more effective way
I see a lot of beginners do this when they first practise songs, when they go through a song and they hit a mistake. They will either just carry on through or go straight back to the beginning of the song, verse or line.
Doing this can waste a lot of time when your mistake is at a very precise point of your playing. So let’s try to just practise correcting that mistake.
When you are practising at home, and practising through a song. Whenever you hit a mistake, try to only go to the beginner of the mistake and repeat it 20 times.
For example: for a chord change: A, E, G, D, C, G.
If you always struggle going from G to D, then just repeat going from one to the other 20 times. And then try going through the song again.
It may make your practising sound a lot less fun, but it will make your practising a lot more efficient as you are tackling your weak spot.
When you hit your next mistake, repeat this again. You will be saving yourself minutes today practising this way and hours over the next few weeks so solving the tiny bits that is holding you back from playing the song.
I hope that we have helped you solve some problems you may have been having with your guitar playing. There are lots of small things that when solved really help your guitar playing to get better.
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