How to Change Guitar Chords Faster

Learning to play the guitar is an exciting journey filled with challenges and rewards. One of the key aspects of guitar playing is how to change guitar chords faster. Chords are the building blocks of music, allowing you to play songs, create melodies, and express yourself through your instrument. As a beginner, improving your speed in transitioning between chords is crucial for your overall progress. In this article, we’ll delve into effective techniques and strategies to help you learn to play guitar chords faster.

My Secret Tip to Playing Faster!

When you start playing guitar learning chords can be overwhelming but there is a secret tip that you can use. Chords come in shapes that can be moved around the neck of the guitar. Once you learn to recognize these shapes and their names you can change faster by moving all your fingers at once for each chord.

It’s only natural to think of placing down one finger at a time on each string but this is a slow technique. You will need to think of chords as blocks and move all your fingers into place at the same time. This technique will give you speed in no time at all.

How to Change Guitar Chords Faster

Thinking of chords as shapes is the key to speed.

  • Move Your fingers in a pattern all at once for each new chord
  • Start slow and build up speed
  • Find a song that you like and play along
  • Play like no one is watching

Beginners Basic Chords

Chords Shapes

1. Understanding the Importance of Speed

Before we dive into techniques, let’s discuss why playing guitar chords faster is important. As you progress in your guitar journey, you’ll encounter songs with various chord changes and rhythms. Having the ability to switch chords quickly will not only make your playing sound smoother but also enhance your musicality. Playing chords faster opens up doors to playing more complex songs and even improvising.

Aim to add one new chord a week in a song that you like, this way you will soon be able to create a great repertoire of your favorite songs to impress.

Keep in mind that there are many songs that only use 3 chords and I’m sure you will know some of them. Here are 30 songs from Killer Guitar Rigs to get you started with video instruction. Choose one and start playing today.

2. Developing Finger Strength and Dexterity

Take the time to practice two chords at a time for a few minutes each session. Place your fingers on each string for a C chord, turn your guitar towards you slightly, and look at the shape, now move your fingers to an A chord shape. Which fingers did you have to move to make the new A chord shape? Were you able to leave one finger on and only move the other fingers?

Now play each chord slowly moving from one to the other. Relax and enjoy the journey. Even intermediate guitar players use this technique when learning to change from a known chord to a new one. Play these two chords back and forward slowly and become aware of which fingers need to move for the new chord shape.

To play chords faster, you need strong and agile fingers. Begin with basic finger exercises to build finger strength. You can do simple exercises like finger stretches, finger presses, and finger lifts. These exercises help improve blood circulation to your fingers and increase flexibility.

Additionally, practice finger independence exercises where you move each finger individually while keeping the others steady on the fretboard. Gradually, your fingers will become more nimble, allowing you to change chords with greater ease.

3. Perfecting Your Finger Placement

Accurate finger placement is crucial for playing chords efficiently. If your fingers are not correctly positioned on the frets, it will take longer to switch chords. When practicing chords, start by placing your fingers one at a time and pressing down firmly on the strings, take note of where each finger rests for that chord. Check if all the notes sound clean and clear. Adjust your finger positions if needed, and practice moving all your fingers into place at once until you can form the chord quickly and accurately.

4. Breaking Down Chord Transitions

When transitioning between chords, it’s essential to break down the process. Instead of trying to switch from one chord to another in one swift motion, break it into smaller steps. Lift your fingers off the strings, visualize the next chord shape, and then place all your fingers back on the frets for the new chord block. This deliberate approach may seem slow initially, but it trains your brain to process the movement, leading to faster transitions over time.

5. Use a Metronome

A metronome is a valuable tool for improving your rhythm and timing. Set the metronome to a comfortable tempo and practice transitioning between chords in time with the clicks. As you get more comfortable, gradually increase the tempo. The metronome helps you develop a sense of timing, making your chord changes more precise and faster.

Don’t forget to find a song you like and practice with this at tempo too. It’s much more fun and it will teach you natural rhythm and you can sing along too. This system of learning will give you fresh material to inspire you to practice a little each day.

6. Practice Slowly and Gradually Increase Speed

It might sound counterintuitive, but practicing slowly is a key step toward playing guitar chords faster or riffs. When you practice at a slow pace, you can focus on accuracy and technique. As you become comfortable with the chord changes, start increasing the speed gradually. This methodical approach helps your muscle memory develop, enabling you to switch chords smoothly at higher speeds.

7. Chord Progression Practice

Choose a simple chord progression and practice it repeatedly. For instance, you can select four chords and practice transitioning between them in a loop. This type of focused practice helps your brain recognize common patterns, making it easier to switch between chords in different songs. Over time, your muscle memory will kick in, and your chord changes will become more fluid.

Learning songs with the video is a perfect way to practice and have fun.

8. Visualize the Chord Shapes

Visualization is a powerful technique used by athletes and musicians alike. Spend a few moments before practicing visualizing the chord shapes and the transitions in your mind’s eye. This mental practice helps your brain understand the sequence of movements required for smooth chord changes. When you pick up the guitar, your fingers will already have a blueprint to follow.

9. Stay Relaxed and Relieve Tension

Tension in your hands and fingers can hinder your ability to play chords quickly. Pay attention to your body’s posture while playing. Keep your fingers relaxed and curved, avoid unnecessary tension, and shake out your hands regularly to maintain suppleness. Relaxed fingers move more efficiently, allowing you to switch chords with greater speed.

Make sure you are sitting comfortably and use a guitar strap if you want your guitar to feel secure. This is also good practice for standing and playing. Angle your guitar neck up towards your shoulder as this will make it less of an angle for your fretting hand.

10. Stay Patient and Persistent

Learning to play guitar chords faster is not an overnight achievement. It takes time, consistent practice, and patience. Understand that progress might be slow initially, but every bit of practice adds up. Celebrate small victories and acknowledge your improvements. With persistence, your speed will naturally increase.


Mastering the art of playing guitar chords faster is an essential skill for any guitarist. It enhances your playing, expands your repertoire, and boosts your confidence as a musician. By focusing on finger strength, accurate placement, deliberate practice, and the use of effective techniques, you can significantly improve your chord transition speed. Remember, it’s not about how fast you start; it’s about the journey of continuous improvement. Embrace the process, stay dedicated, and enjoy the progress you make along the way.

As a professional guitarist and singer of over 40 years, I have found that playing along with the original songs is fun and keeps me improving. Start with simple 3 chord songs and as you learn and grow add harder songs to keep you stretching and learning. You can start by playing ‘Desperado’ or ‘Nowhere Man’ available on my website.

Make it a goal to learn whole songs so that you will feel comfortable to show off your new skills and polish them for excellence. A song played well but simply will always impress more than a difficult song played in a sloppy way.

Here are ’23 Tips on How to Sing and Play at the same time’ from Beginner Guitar HQ to aim towards your next goal.

Have fun and enjoy your playing journey.

Warm Regards,

Lily Munday

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