So I've got the technical aspect of guitar down (definately not mastered lol) but I'm self-taught and went backwards and never learned theory first (or at all really during the process). Since starting to learn (or trying to anyway lol) the last year and a half or so my playing has increased tenfold over what it was the previous 12 years of "just tabbing" it. So I have an understanding of scales and basic progression principals and I know my chord shapes (well, all the main/most used ones) but there's still a lot I'm trying to learn. two things I've been wondering about lately:

1 - Is there a definitive "proper" way to finger chords, making all other ways technically wrong, or is the most important thing player comfort? For example, being self taught I would just look at a tab (this was the worst way ever to learn I now realize lol, took the VERRRY long road) and it would say:



So I finger it Ring finger on B, Index on G, Middle on D. I do this because when I looked at the tab for all the open chords I noticed that D also shared the G 2nd fret and E was G first fret. So my logic was that index finger could just stay down for those chord switches, which was easier to make the switches as a beginner. The "lazy" way I guess? Problem is, that shape for A is so engrained in my muscle memory that no matter how much I'm trying different fingerigs for A, once I start playing the song at speed I always find myself playing it my original way. I don't even notice it until I actually look, it's just so natural. So then I start forcing myself to do it a different way and then I mess up playing because instead of listening to the time I'm thinking in my head of the chord fingering, which then trips when up when it comes. I hesitate a split second thinking of the fingering.

I ask because I never though it mattered until I started being able to improv stuff once I learned scales and such. That lead to adding little "flair" stuff, or whatever it's officially called, when playing chords. The stuff when you only maybe strum a few full chords and then do some little runs with the chord shape. Once I got into that stuff it kind of lead to playing with rockabilly style, and that has a lot of walk downs and different chord progressions that are basically impossible the way I naturally finger the A chord, but are a breeze if I use Ring on B, Middle on G, Index on D. But like I said, TWELE YEARS of fingering it the way I do is making it extremely hard to switch. Not only does the A feel unnatural to me now but my switches to D and E are also different. Given that I hardly play that style and was just experimenting for fun, is it even worth trying to retrain that? I mainly play punk rock, and classic/80s stuff, and bluesy/jammy type stuff, and the way I finger it now has never caused a problem within those styles. So if playing it my way isn't going to cause any harm as my playing progresses then I won't bother frustrating myself trying to relearn it.

2 - when playing in alternate tunings, what are chords called? Like If I'm in E-flat tuning and I play an A chord, I would assume its actually an A flat? But what about "extreme" tunings? I have friends that play in metal/hardcore bands that play in Drop C I believe. What would you call the A chord in that? Like I know if everyone is tuned that way and plays the song normally then it will sound like the song just lower, so is it still just called an A? If you were transcribing it would you just use the normal chord names and note that the song is tuned to whatever?

And conversely, if I am in E-flat, is it possible to play an open A, E, D, etc not flat? As in it would register as an A not A flat on a tuner?

Sorry for the SUPER long read, I'm just trying to get as much knowledge as I can so I want to be as descriptive as possible.
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Last edited by Agent51 at Mar 10, 2012,
As far as the proper fingering of chords, there is no 'right' way to play them. There are some chords that i will play differently depending upon what chord i play before or after.
e minor 7th is the main one that comes to mind
e- 0
B- 3
G- 0
D- 2
A- 2
E- 0

If i am playing a d major after it, i will use my index on A, middle on D, and ring finger on B. however, if i'm playing any other chords after, i will use my pinky on the B. for me it's a matter of finger efficiency and smooth transitions.

I've also had to relearn how to play some chords because my fingering was just plain lazy and it impeded my ability to play the chords cleanly. For a D Major chord, i used to bar off the G and e strings with the index and fret the b with my middle finger. I now use my index on the g, ring on the b, and middle on the e. this makes chord transitions easier and allows me to hammer on/ pull off individual notes.

it was a TOTAL pain in the ass to relearn how to play the D chord, and, much you like you, i lost my sense of rhythm for a week or two. But after a little frustration, i just took a weekend, started at a slow tempo, and relearned the D chord within all of my normal chord progressions and now it just seems silly that i ever played it any other way.

As far as naming chords in alternate tunings, the proper name for them is their true note value. for instance, the A chord in Eb tuning is an Ab chord. However, if you're just talking to people about the chords while playing together, it might be easier to just refer to them as if you were in standard tuning. But all that really matters is that you both understand what chord you're talking about.