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Real Guitar Tips: Chord Shapes + Finger Placement

Steve Levy

April 19, 2018

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REAL GUITAR TIPS: FRETBOARD MECHANICS, LESSON

Guitar instructor Steve Levy returns with video lesson two in his Fretboard Mechanics Series. In this video, Steve takes the concepts in video one and begins to apply them to real life playing.

Watch the video carefully and follow Steve's tips to make sure that you don't fall into the poor habits that are commonly found with amateur or self-taught guitarists.

Proper finger placement

We're starting with a simple C chord in that neutral position that we talked about. Notice that my fingers are arched and I'm playing from the tips.

C Chord

If I move my hand very slightly out of that position, you'll hear that some of these notes are muted now and you can't hear the chord clearly.  For beginners, I recommend that play each note in the chord and listen carefully to see if there's anything wrong (such as a slightly muted note) and figure out what you can do to correct it. When you're fingering your chords correctly, you're close to the fret wire and everything should sound nice and clear.

Avoid pulling the chord out-of-tune with poor hand position

If your hands are out of alignment, it's easy to pull a chord out of tune. I'm playing simple D chord here and if I just raise my fingers slightly, you can see that string is barely moving, but the chord is pulling out of tune. Just a little bit of upward pressure is going to make that happen. Position your hand properly and have that energy going directly into the fretboard to get a nice, clean, and in tune chord.

Out of tune chord

Think in terms of chord shapes, not one finger at a time

When you're learning to build your chords, it's natural to have a, "one finger at a time" approach. However, you'll eventually want to think of these chords as being whole shapes that you move in and out of effortlessly, as one continuous movement.

Most beginners tend to finger the highest pitch note first and work their way backwards. I actually find it's better to start with the lowest pitch note that you're going to finger in the chord and work your way up. Working with the C chord , I would recommend going with the root on the fifth string, and your hands will tend to fall into position much more easily.

Economy of motion

When considering economy of movement with your chords, this is understanding that there are entire shapes that you're moving in and out of (rather than a one finger at-a-time approach). Here, we have a simple chord progression going from G to C to F. You'll notice that my fingers are all staying close to the fretboard, rather than displaying my whole hand out and reforming the chord. We're looking for common notes across the progression.

C chord 2

G chord

F chord

In this case, I'm going to my G, I'm going down on my C, and I'm just adding that first finger on the B string. When I move to the F chord, I leave my index finger where it is rather than taking it off and putting it back down.  This is a good example on how you can bring a more economical and smoother approach to your chord transitions.

Thanks for watching everyone! We'll see you in the next video!

Guit

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