I have a hard time transitioning back and forth between the G Chord and C chord. Due to arthritis in my little finger, am force to do the G chord using the first 3 fingers. The transition just seems very cumbersome right now. I practice nearly every night and am slowly gaining some speed, but not nearly enough. When I practice I do start out slow, making sure the chord rings true. I guess what I am asking is how long until the the chord changes will seem natural? Thank you.
It depends on the person honestly. I have trouble with my little finger as well from an accident involving my hand.

How long have you been playing? Some techniques can take a few weeks or months, and some much longer. I have played guitar on and off for around 10 years, and still have trouble on occasion with basic chords, but I rarely use them. Took me about 2 months to get used to the few basic chords. But I wasn't dedicated to them at the time.

Are you playing acoustic or electric? You can try some lighter strings to make forming them a little easier.

You can also set a metronome to a low tempo, hold one chord for a count of 4, and while it's ringing prepeare mentally to hit the next chord on 1. When it starts feeling comfortable, bump the tempo maybe 10 bpm and repeat. When you get to the speed you want to be at comfortably, then try strumming patterns. If you mess up, then don't stop and restart, just keep going.

And whatever you do, don't stress about your speed of learning. The formations you make with your hand are unnatural. It is like learning to walk. But with your fingers.

Hopefully there is useful info in there. I've never been good at explaining my thoughts haha.
I've only ever used the first three fingers on the G chord. Otherwise seems odd to me. I did just learn another way to finger the G last weekend, but it's a little more difficult than the regular G (still pretty easy though).

To answer your question....it's different for everyone. Some people get it right away after learning chords, whereas most don't ever really get the hang of it and end up putting that guitar in the closet never to be played again (or sold on Craigslist). The rest of us...we're somewhere in the middle. It took me a couple months before I could switch between simple chords with some efficiency, but I'm not particularly talented and had no prior musical training or experience at all (plus I didn't know how to efficiently approach practice). Just remember that the great players all say you have to want it, you have to be willing to put the work in. Chet Atkins literally slept with his guitar (while sitting in a chair, no less, due to physical problems). Knopfler says he used to fall asleep holding his guitar. So even those guys had to work hard to become great.

I'd recommend putting a guitar stand wherever you spend most of your time at home. If you have a guitar at hand you'll be more likely to practice (since it's handy), and you WILL improve faster. I've improved more in the last year than in the previous 30 because I always have a guitar at hand now in my home. When watching TV, grab that axe and practice fingering those chords and strumming. You'll get it down with time, don't worry.

Put some ICY HOT on that arthritic finger. It helps.
Last edited by TobusRex at Jun 22, 2016,
I've no idea how long it will take, maybe a few weeks, but I think that it will come suddenly when it does, and leave you wondering why you found it so difficult before. It is all about "muscle memory" or conditioned reflexes, and it often seems to be that if you give it a rest for a day or two, you come back better than where you left off. - Your brain spends that slack time fixing up the necessary wiring.
I just started playing in Feb and it took me a couple months to smoothly move from one cord to the next, working on it pretty much everyday. I wanted it pretty bad though, kinda like Rex suggested, I had placed my gear were it would be in my way, knowing full well that if I picked up my guitar to move it out of my way it would start a 2 or 3 hours practice session. The hardest part for me was taking a break to let things "set it"...or as Tony says, "fixing up the wiring".
Flying in a blue dream
I'm struggling with stuff like this too - you aren't alone. When I get stuck on really simple, basic movements, I tend to put on a movie and just sit there doing the movement back and forth for the better part of an hour or so. Two or three nights of that really, really helps.
rayneace1231 Try to force the change no matter how it sounds. Its a tough change at first. Theres really no helpful techniques, just gotta keep practicing it and forcing the change. The pain will go away too, i wouldn't play if its hurt like a 6-7 on a scale to 10. Some of that to me seems like muscle strengthening.

The hardest beginner changes are C - F and D- F, and the A open chord.
Last edited by guygroomes85 at Jun 27, 2016,

My little finger is damaged also, but I have successfully worked around it ... if I need to solo very fast, I use my first three fingers and add the 1st finger of my right hand to help out (legato) ... but I do this rarely ... I prefer more melodic stuff. I'm just saying this to show it's not the end of guitar playing when these things happen. At the times I've had serious hand problems (unable to play), I brush up on theory, visualisation, ear training ... that helped me improve a lot compared to when I had great technique but limited musicality.

End of the day, it comes down to practise allowing for your constraints. The most important thing, when playing, rather than practising, is to keep time, even if you make a mistake ... just join back in at the right place.

Something worth bearing in mind, especially if you have other musicians to play with, is the use of sparser chord voicings ... this can help a lot with regard to number of fingers involved. For example, G to C can be played on the three treble strings as

3 0 3 3 7 8 10 12 (E string)
3 1 3 5 8 8 12 13
0 0 4 5 7 9 12 12

G C G C etc
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jul 3, 2016,