#1
As a total beginner, I am having a bear of a time playing a clean open D chord. The issue is with the high E string. I fluctuate between not holding it down firmly with the middle finger and touching it with the ring finger. I can't seem to hold the thing right.

I know the advice, "practice, practice, practice..." is the answer, but is practicing it wrong over and over again going to help? Is there some pearl of wisdom to get me to practice it correctly to cut the time spent messing around with something so basic to a minimum?

Also, I am doing chord change drills. I pick two chords (usually involving A, D and E) and see how many times I can change between them in a minute or two minutes. Obviously, with my D chord issue, I am making the change but playing a bad chord. Should I stop the change drills until I can nail the D chord on a regular basis? Am I teaching myself bat habits by doing drills for changing to a bad chord?
#2
Are you doing the justinguitar lessons? When you practice chord shapes, pick out each note and make sure it is ringing out clearly. If not then you need to experiment a little with your finger placement and hand placement. You also want to try to get the last knuckle bent so your fingers are hitting the fretboard at 90 degree angle or as close to perpendicular as you can. In the case of your D, it's important to get your ring finger perpendicular to the fretboard so it isn't rubbing against the E or G string. The other 2 fingers can be a little more relaxed. The middle finger should be just behind the 2nd fret of the high E, as close as you can get it without touching.

Don't worry, every beginner has these same issues learning chords and you already know the answer...practice. I think it's still fine to do the chord change drills even if your chords aren't perfect.
#3
Quote by rohash
Are you doing the justinguitar lessons? When you practice chord shapes, pick out each note and make sure it is ringing out clearly. If not then you need to experiment a little with your finger placement and hand placement. You also want to try to get the last knuckle bent so your fingers are hitting the fretboard at 90 degree angle or as close to perpendicular as you can. In the case of your D, it's important to get your ring finger perpendicular to the fretboard so it isn't rubbing against the E or G string. The other 2 fingers can be a little more relaxed. The middle finger should be just behind the 2nd fret of the high E, as close as you can get it without touching.

Don't worry, every beginner has these same issues learning chords and you already know the answer...practice. I think it's still fine to do the chord change drills even if your chords aren't perfect.


Thanks. And, yes, I am doing the Justinguitar lessons. The one minute changes is such a simple idea, and I had not thought of doing it that way. I guess that is why you watch someone who knows how to teach it.

I spend the first few minutes doing things to loosen up my fingers (a very slow version of the riff in Day Tripper by the Beatles, and some stretching). I then spend time just forming the chords and hitting each string to make sure they all ring out. I then do the chord change drills. With the D chord, there are days in which I will do it for 5-10 minutes straight and never get one strum with all strings ringing out. It is just frustrating to me.
#4
A small detail which can be easily overlooked is nail length on your fret hand. My fingers are annoying in that my nails don't need to be very long to be sticking out past my fingertips when I'm pressing down a string, so I need to keep them really short. I know other people who don't have the same issue as me but you might, so there you go.

I'd suggest focusing on getting the chord sounding good before you try changing chords as quickly as possible. If you focus on speed first your playing will end up very sloppy.
#6
Thanks for the thoughts.

Fingernails are as short as they can be without bleeding.

Guitar has been set up by a professional.

I think it's just weak and uncoordinated fingers. But that can be fixed.
#7
Don't worry, you're just experiencing the growing pains that every aspiring guitarist goes through. If you're not patient and not willing to devote tons of time to practice, you'll never be able to play even half-decent. It's not an easy instrument that you master in a few months unless you're some kind of super gifted prodigy. That's what makes it so rewarding when it finally starts to come together and you can play a few songs decently.

As far as the speed drills, yeah you don't want to play sloppy so go as fast as you can but not so fast that you aren't hitting the chords right. Keep in mind though that even a good guitarist hits a sloppy chord every once in a while. It's nothing to fret over(pun intended LOL). You need to be able to hit the chords cleanly and be quick enough to make the changes without losing the strumming pattern. That is the goal and with practice they will both come. Stay thirsty my friend!
#8
Quote by rohash
If you're not patient and not willing to devote tons of time to practice, you'll never be able to play even half-decent.


Wait, I've been playing for 10 whole days now. I expected to be in a band, touring the world, and making millions of $ by now.

I feel so deceived by such resources as "Money for Nothing", "Taking Care of Business" and countless other songs that have led me to believe that I could become rich and famous instantly by picking up a geetar.
Last edited by ridire at Feb 18, 2015,
#9
Seriously, though, I understand that this takes time and I am quite patient. I just want to try and make sure that I am not practicing in a way that causes me to spend lots of time doing things that do not do much to improve my playing.

I suppose the obvious answer is to take real lessons, with a one on one instructor, rather than relying on free internet resources.
#10
Quote by ridire
Wait, I've been playing for 10 whole days now. I expected to be in a band, touring the world, and making millions of $ by now.

I feel so deceived by such resources as "Money for Nothing", "Taking Care of Business" and countless other songs that have led to me to believe that I could become rich and famous instantly by picking up a geetar.
This is commonly known as, "paranoid delusions of guitar hero hood".

Too bad they took Methaqualone, (Quaalude), off the market. The normal treatment for this was, you give one to your girlfriend before dating. This caused her to become so aroused later in the evening, that it took your mind off that stupid a** guitar.

In any event, now that the true glory days of rock are over, and we're forced to listen to yet another of Taylor Swift's, banal break up pop-whines, with escalating frequency. We sit, emasculated, as she kicks yet another scoundrel, (much like our former selves), to the curb, over, and over, and over, again,. Nowadays, we have to rely on the callouses on our fingers to push our buttons instead, in a manner of speaking.

If you think about it, hardened fingertips result in being able to push the string more tightly against the fret board. A person with girly man fingertips such as yourself, needs to be patient and......(wait for it).....practice, practice, practice.

And remember, the stupid little hooks you can learn from YouTube, aren't the whole song, and you sorta have to practice the rest of that too.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Feb 18, 2015,
#11
when i first started learning guitar, the two hardest chords for me were D and F. it took considerably more than 10 days to nail them - in fact, my teacher started me off with simple chords, and in 10 days, i had only had 2 lessons. i learned to do D, F and the other chords not by trying to do them fast, which meant learning to do them wrong.

i learned first simpler chords to get used to playing - my first song consisted of Am and Em. once i could smoothly do those, he added D, which took lots longer. but i learned them by playing them as slowly as i needed to to get them right every time i played them, and as i got better from practice, the speed came with it.
Quote by Skeet UK
I just looked in my Oxford English Dictionary and under "Acoustic Guitar", there was your Avatar and an email address!
#12
Quote by Captaincranky
This is commonly known as, "paranoid delusions of guitar hero hood".



So, what I'm hearing you say is that it might take a full two weeks before Van Halen is calling me to replace Eddie? Not sure I can hold our that long.
#13
Quote by ridire
So, what I'm hearing you say is that it might take a full two weeks before Van Halen is calling me to replace Eddie? Not sure I can hold our that long.
Spot on! At long last, someone who finally understands me...
#14
I'm officially done worrying about it. I can hold the D chord perfectly when I start my practice now but can't do it after 15 minutes. Weak muscles that my no-guitar-playing hand has never developed, I'm sure. Just keep beating it up until I have some stamina in the fingers.
#16
Quote by ridire
I'm officially done worrying about it. I can hold the D chord perfectly when I start my practice now but can't do it after 15 minutes. Weak muscles that my no-guitar-playing hand has never developed, I'm sure. Just keep beating it up until I have some stamina in the fingers.


There you go. Now...back to practice boy!
#17
Quote by Captaincranky


(For maximum benefit, watch his fingers during the verses).


What's funny is I now find myself obsessing over watching the fret hand of anyone I see playing guitar. I stopped into a little bar last night to kill 15 minutes before picking my daughter up from dance class. There was a one man band playing (a little rhythm machine of some sort and an acoustic guitar). I found myself staring at his left hand and trying to pick out when he played a chord I knew.
#18
Quote by ridire
What's funny is I now find myself obsessing over watching the fret hand of anyone I see playing guitar. I stopped into a little bar last night to kill 15 minutes before picking my daughter up from dance class. There was a one man band playing (a little rhythm machine of some sort and an acoustic guitar). I found myself staring at his left hand and trying to pick out when he played a chord I knew.
I'm with you on this. I often find myself being irritated by the fact, filmmakers are showing a guitarist's face way too much, and his or her fingers, way too little!

Quote by ridire
So, what I'm hearing you say is that it might take a full two weeks before Van Halen is calling me to replace Eddie? Not sure I can hold our that long.
OK, my son took me to see Eddie, way back when David Lee Roth was still the frontman. So 3 decades + have gone by.

Anyhow, part of Mr. Van Halen's shtick involved creating artificial harmonic chimes. As you probably know, the guitar's fret board arrangement repeats itself at the 12th fret. (Save for the fact you would have to apply a capo on 12 to duplicate all the open notes and chord shapes).

So what Eddie used to do, was hold open chords, and hammer on the same chords with his picking hand at the 12th fret. Almost churchy, it truly was, with the D major chord being almost heaven sent. Of course, you need to use a shipload of gain to pull it off, and it isn't the thing people in the affected household would want to endure until one became good at it. (And even possibly after the technique was mastered).

Back on the topic of Taylor Swift I ran across this, homage /atrocity / blasphemy of Ms Swift covering "Summer of '69" : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13_KT6V14JQ

OK, a couple of things are pretty darn noteworthy. She places a capo on the 2nd fret, and plays the song using C major shapes. She doesn't do the bridge, since that would require barre chords as the song changes key from D major to F major during the bridge.

She actually is singing the song in the same key/octave as Bryan Adams. Despite all the grit in Bryan's voice, he is a tenor, so his melodies do get up there.

In spite of her shortcomings, she lays down a pretty fierce rhythm line to the song (*). I noticed a familiar sounding gratuitous triplet here and there in the pattern, identical to my own playing.

Which, forced some frank self appraisal. From here on, if anybody tells me, "you play like a girl", I may be forced to cop to it....

(*) But, after some practice, and with the addition of a Koa Taylor, who among us probably wouldn't be able to do the same.
#19
as long as your finger placement is correct-- keep playing. it will ring clear eventually.

My Barre F major still wont ring clear all the time and that's after 20 years
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#20
Yeah I hate when I'm watching a guitarists fingers on TV/video and they switch to his or the singers face or the drummer or something. I know Eddie's a great guitarist and I like a lot of VH stuff, but finger taps never did much for me. I'd rather hear a note picking, bendy solo myself. EVH gets the credit for that style but I've seen vids from 77-78 of Tom Scholz doing it too so I'm not sure who came first. Probably someone else that we never heard of. LOL

Yeah barre chords are hard to play without at least some degree of muting. You can get away with it in a barre chord though as long as the 2-3-4 fingers are fretted clean. Of course a cleanly fretted barre does sound best.