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  1. #1

    Newbie! Getting snappy with new chord shapes?

    Hello all,

    this is my first post here... a bit of a brief intro:

    I'm 35yrs old from Victoria BC, Canada. I played for about 4 or 5 yrs as a teen and eventually fell out of practice when I got really into photography and other aspects of life took me away from playing. I didn't pick up a guitar in 12+ yrs... I was on a work trip last spring and a coworker had an acoustic that he brought with him, and I picked it up and noodled a bit. Within a couple weeks I went out and bought myself a guitar... I ended up getting a used Gretsch Electromatic because I liked the hollow body aspect for acoustic playing... I went on to build a clone of a 5F1 Champ from a mojotone kit, and the help of the very knowledgable forum members at tdpri. I have found a teacher that I really connect with, and am working on getting a working knowledge of practical theory, which I never really delved into before... Anyway, I'm about a year back into guitar again, and I'm having troubles getting my changes snappy. The vast majority of my chords previously had been your standard E shape bar chords and open chords... I've been working on getting my 6/7/-7 chords snappy... I know it takes time and repetition... but I've honestly been just changing on those shapes over and over for what seems like weeks... I'm finally getting them so I can MOST of the time make the changes in a beat @ about 60bpm...

    Does anyone have any advice for getting that snap?
    Last edited by r_o_b_s_o_n; 10-01-2018 at 03:58 AM.

  2. #2
    Maybe these idea will help ...

    If you are moving from one chord to another -- and they have a note or notes in common, see if you can leave a finger (or more than one) down while you shift the notes that need to change. Sometimes it may help to finger one of the chords differently to facilitate this process.

    Well, one other thing occurs to me. Some guitars are harder to play than others. Light strings, low action and a comfortable neck can help.

    Last point: don't give up.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
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    Also practice single note exercises (scales, arpeggios, etc) as they will help your hands build up dexterity, strenght, and ability to stretch more precisely.

  4. #4
    Yea... cool 1st post... good luck.

    So yes it takes time etc... but if you approach somewhat taking off from rpjazzguitar said... look for common fingers and strings, very boring and mechanical details... but you will get faster results in the long run...

    I push that same approach... but with everything you play organized... musically organized with solid basic fretboard fingering references. They, the fingerings and fretboard organization are organized with basic musical organization that is designed for the guitar, a 12 fret, 6 string pattern that repeats.

    The results are... everything you play has organized REFERENCES on the fretboard that also have logical musical References.

    You end up with not having to figure everything out one or two things at a time.... You'll have a very mechanical... system to play the instrument... play anything. Everything has the same reference.... you can still play any lick, chord etc... it's just the basic starting reference is always the same. You don't have to think etc... it become instinctive.

    Yada yada.... for your problem playing chords snappy etc... the approach organized how you finger chords and what notes, fingers and strings become common or connecting targets while you play.

    Check out my thread in the techniques section... and if it looks interesting, or questions... please ask.
    I'm a pro, have been for way too many years... I can cover.

    There are many approaches for what to play and all the BS... but Technique will give you skills to choose.

  5. #5
    If you've been seeing improvements within just a couple of weeks, it sounds to me like you're doing something right. Slow and steady wins the race. Nothing wrong with 60 bpm. Keep at it. Flip open the real book to random pages, set the metronome and just comp through the changes. Aim to do it in time with a sense of rhythm and without stopping. If you mess up, try and keep up with the metronome. Go back afterwards and fix any issues or mistakes.

    Start slow and as you begin feeling more confident and comfortable (don't wait until you're 100% there... just starting to feel it) crank up the metronome 5 or 10 clicks. You can always slow it back down. But you just have to tighten the screws slowly.

    Look forward to hearing how your progress continues!
    NYC Jazz Guitar Masterclasses - Free Weekly Lessons

    "Jordan Klemons is a great guitarist with unlimited potential. His prodigious technique is never an end in itself but instead the means to musical expression. He is a musician who looks to the past for inspiration and influence yet has a modern conception; he is someone to look out and listen for!"
    -Peter Bernstein

  6. #6
    Make sure that you finger the new chords "all at once"... don't let the habit of placing fingers one at a time get started. Even the very fist time you play a new chord, don't place the fingers sequentially; always lay down all the fingers simultaneously. Do this no matter how slowly it takes to get up to speed - your speed will be faster when you can "snap shot" each chord into place rather than "building" it each time.

    The mention about using pivots and common notes from chord to chord is also great; it helps lend a musically based mechanical reference which helps a lot when you get changing up to speed.

    Always keep in mind this is jazz... don't let failing to be perfect prevent you from being good!
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Hill Country
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    2,014
    Another positive word for pivot notes, they are your friends. They're why it's important to learn how to finger identical chords with different grips (same shape at the same fret, using different fingers) when possible. Frags are also helpful if you have a bassist or keyboardist handy.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    What does your teacher say?
    Unfortunately I'm out of town for work for a couple weeks, so won't see my teacher for a bit still... His advice was to run a 12 bar blues with one shape, and just move the shape up and down the neck... which seems to be fine for the one shape... it's just snapping from shape to shape that I fumble with. But, in the time since I've posted the original post, I feel like I've made a big jump in my changes, for that particular progression... I'm now around 90bpm and able to follow real book/iReal on the tune I'm working on (In a mellow tone). I will flip through the book and pick out some tunes that primarily use 6/7/-7 chords for additional practice.

    Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to offer some advice!

  9. #9
    Set your metronome as slow as it can go.

    1. Form a chord shape and play it on beat 1

    2. Take your hand completely off the fingerboard and place your hand flat somewhere on beat 2

    3. Form the next chord on beat 3

    4. repeat 2

    go back to 1 and repeat 1000 times.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by BBGuitar View Post
    Set your metronome as slow as it can go.

    1. Form a chord shape and play it on beat 1

    2. Take your hand completely off the fingerboard and place your hand flat somewhere on beat 2

    3. Form the next chord on beat 3

    4. repeat 2

    go back to 1 and repeat 1000 times.
    I like this idea... except 1000 times is probably not enough...

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by BBGuitar View Post
    Set your metronome as slow as it can go.

    1. Form a chord shape and play it on beat 1

    2. Take your hand completely off the fingerboard and place your hand flat somewhere on beat 2

    3. Form the next chord on beat 3

    4. repeat 2

    go back to 1 and repeat 1000 times.
    i must misunderstand, because this seems like the opposite of what he should be doing?
    White belt
    My Youtube

  12. #12

    This works

    Quote Originally Posted by joe2758 View Post
    i must misunderstand, because this seems like the opposite of what he should be doing?
    This works for getting the fingers calibrated to the chord shapes. Once calibrated then speed will be no problem.

    This method improves accuracy which is good for any type of playing.

    I should have added increase the metronome tempo in small increments.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by BBGuitar View Post
    This works for getting the fingers calibrated to the chord shapes. Once calibrated then speed will be no problem.

    This method improves accuracy which is good for any type of playing.

    I should have added increase the metronome tempo in small increments.
    interesting, i'll take your word for it that it works. I'm just more familiar with what rpjazz was describing, ie going from shape to shape as directly as possible with no wasted movement
    White belt
    My Youtube

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    Take your hand completely off the fretboard? No one does that when they're playing. You're practising a mistake. You can take your hand off when you've finished.
    You are correct no one does this while playing.

    Only for practice and learning.

    It works give it a try.

  15. #15
    Here's a thought that might be interesting for a non-beginner.

    I came across it when I couldn't bend my left index finger for a while.

    I didn't want to stop playing, so I basically used it as a bar, constantly.

    It turns out that this works pretty well for a lot of things, including playing chords.

    I'm not a Django expert, but I'm guessing he spent some time exploring ways to use a finger as a bar to make chords. As I understand it, he had some ability to use his ring and pinkie fingers on the high strings for chords. Is that right?

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    Take your hand completely off the fretboard? No one does that when they're playing. You're practising a mistake.
    Quote Originally Posted by BBGuitar View Post
    You are correct no one does this while playing.
    Yikes. I do this when I'm playing. Is that bad?
    NYC Jazz Guitar Masterclasses - Free Weekly Lessons

    "Jordan Klemons is a great guitarist with unlimited potential. His prodigious technique is never an end in itself but instead the means to musical expression. He is a musician who looks to the past for inspiration and influence yet has a modern conception; he is someone to look out and listen for!"
    -Peter Bernstein

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    London
    Posts
    12,159
    Quote Originally Posted by r_o_b_s_o_n View Post
    Hello all,

    this is my first post here... a bit of a brief intro:

    I'm 35yrs old from Victoria BC, Canada. I played for about 4 or 5 yrs as a teen and eventually fell out of practice when I got really into photography and other aspects of life took me away from playing. I didn't pick up a guitar in 12+ yrs... I was on a work trip last spring and a coworker had an acoustic that he brought with him, and I picked it up and noodled a bit. Within a couple weeks I went out and bought myself a guitar... I ended up getting a used Gretsch Electromatic because I liked the hollow body aspect for acoustic playing... I went on to build a clone of a 5F1 Champ from a mojotone kit, and the help of the very knowledgable forum members at tdpri. I have found a teacher that I really connect with, and am working on getting a working knowledge of practical theory, which I never really delved into before... Anyway, I'm about a year back into guitar again, and I'm having troubles getting my changes snappy. The vast majority of my chords previously had been your standard E shape bar chords and open chords... I've been working on getting my 6/7/-7 chords snappy... I know it takes time and repetition... but I've honestly been just changing on those shapes over and over for what seems like weeks... I'm finally getting them so I can MOST of the time make the changes in a beat @ about 60bpm...

    Does anyone have any advice for getting that snap?
    I tell you what I've been playing jazz for over 20 years, and accurate, swift fretting of chords is the first thing that gets ropey when I haven't played for a day or two. Single notes - fine, but chords, bleurrgghhh.

    One thing that has helped me is trying to get the shape of the chord in the hand before I fret them. So I line up all the fingers above the frets where they need to go, and then apply the bare minimum pressure to fret the chord. Hard, at first!

    I got this exercise from a Pasquale Grasso video. Pasquale is perhaps the best in the world for left hand technique.

    For chord shapes in general - keep plugging. The more shapes you learn the easier it gets. Perhaps practice each finger move separately in different orders, so 1st finger then 2nd, then 3rd then 4th, and then flip the order.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    London
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    Keep going slow, also. You are building muscle memory. 60bpm might be too fast, actually. Don't practice with a metronome until you have the movement down. (Many people practice with a click far to early IMO)

    You develop the muscle memory, and then work with a click after that's together so you synchronise everything to the beat. Don't over tax your self practicing both muscle memory and timing at the same time.

  19. #19
    One trick to accelerate number of repetitions per minute.
    Instead of practicing in songform, give each chord a quarter note.

    applied to two chords:

    4/4 ||: Dm9 G13 Dm9 G13 :||

    a phrase:

    4/4 ||: Fm7 Bbm7 Eb7 Abma7 | Dbma7 Dm7 G7 Cma7 :||

    or an entire song:

    4/4 ||: Cm7 Fm7 Dm7b5 G7+ | Cm7 Ebm7 Ab7 Dbma7 |5/4 Dm7b5 G7+ Cm7 Dm7b5 G7+ :||

    Since this is about mastering specific chord forms, use whatever voicings you are working on.
    The idea is to focus on the physical aspect of chord changing and getting in the maximum number
    of repetitions in the least amount of time.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by jordanklemons View Post
    Yikes. I do this when I'm playing. Is that bad?
    if you’re saying you flatten out your hand between every chord you play then i’m even more impressed by your playing. i think you meant between phrases, which is natural and not something to practice (as far as i know, you’re the teacher but i would give you side eye if you told me to haha)
    White belt
    My Youtube

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by bako View Post
    One trick to accelerate number of repetitions per minute.
    Instead of practicing in songform, give each chord a quarter note.

    applied to two chords:

    4/4 ||: Dm9 G13 Dm9 G13 :||

    a phrase:

    4/4 ||: Fm7 Bbm7 Eb7 Abma7 | Dbma7 Dm7 G7 Cma7 :||

    or an entire song:

    4/4 ||: Cm7 Fm7 Dm7b5 G7+ | Cm7 Ebm7 Ab7 Dbma7 |5/4 Dm7b5 G7+ Cm7 Dm7b5 G7+ :||

    Since this is about mastering specific chord forms, use whatever voicings you are working on.
    The idea is to focus on the physical aspect of chord changing and getting in the maximum number
    of repetitions in the least amount of time.

    This is basically exactly what I am doing right now, quarter note per shape. It's coming along quite well... I'm comfortably at about 90bpm, but not all fingers are landing together... my 5th string rooted 7th chords are pretty tight and together... but my 6th chords are a bit slower, I land fingers 1&2 quickly on the 6th and 4th strings, but pinky and ring are a bit slow to join...

  22. #22
    Landing all the fingers together requires a leap of faith.
    The worst that can happen: some will land in the wrong place.
    So, notice in what direction the finger(s) are off by, direct attention to make an adjustment.
    Try again. Adjust directive as needed till success is assumed.

    Carefully placing fingers is connected to figuring chords out.
    The ability to place the fingers simultaneously is needed for real time chord changing.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    Or are you just trying to be difficult?
    Difficult? Me?

    Never
    NYC Jazz Guitar Masterclasses - Free Weekly Lessons

    "Jordan Klemons is a great guitarist with unlimited potential. His prodigious technique is never an end in itself but instead the means to musical expression. He is a musician who looks to the past for inspiration and influence yet has a modern conception; he is someone to look out and listen for!"
    -Peter Bernstein

  24. #24
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  25. #25
    Hola r_o_b_s_o_n!

    Your post reminded me how I started getting comfortable with jazz chords. I think I mentioned the idea of Freddie Green chords to my instructor not knowing how to execute them till he showed me how my fingers should be placed on the fretboard. After that I started having an inspired/enlightened sense of how to move these 3-note shapes fairly easily with slight adjustment of hands and fingers. Eventually, you realize you get fast or "snappy" with this method. FG chords were pretty immediately satisfying to me! No doubt it I had to take it slow and build up to speed but the learning curve seemed shorter.

    Mind you that might just be my own personal experience but these chords allowed me to relate shapes and expand to 4-note chords that were built on these 3-note fingerings and, if you keep chunkin' away, you'll be able to execute bigger harmonies (like chord melody playing) with stronger digits. I must say that darned pinky needed the most work at times, but I believe you'll get there after plugging away. At the very least if you started with swing rhythm chords, I think you'll enjoy how fun and functional they are to play.

    Let us know when get past 250 bpm!

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    Here's a thought that might be interesting for a non-beginner.

    I came across it when I couldn't bend my left index finger for a while.

    I didn't want to stop playing, so I basically used it as a bar, constantly.

    It turns out that this works pretty well for a lot of things, including playing chords.

    I'm not a Django expert, but I'm guessing he spent some time exploring ways to use a finger as a bar to make chords. As I understand it, he had some ability to use his ring and pinkie fingers on the high strings for chords. Is that right?
    It seems to me that Django used his ring and pinkie fingers that way probably more as one unit than independently.

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