BPM question and practicing with a purpose

Hi everyone,

I am in my 7th month of learning from Justin’s beginner course and practicing basically every day. While I was able to learn the full F chord fairly quickly, I had to dedicate about a month of practice on transitioning to and from the chord. I am somewhat ecstatic to report that this morning it really starting to all come together! As if something clicked while in my sleep. I’ve been practicing (with a metronome) to transition between Am - F (full) - C - G for a song I am wanting to play. I am able to change between these chords fairly smoothly at about 50 bpm. While it is not quite fast enough I feel it is a good place to start and gradually improve my speed so that I can one day play the song. I’ve tried to play it at my current speed change and feel it needs to be a bit faster to make things sound nice.

The questions I have are the followings: What is a good general chords change BPM to play most songs seamlessly? 60 bpm (as in Justin’s one minute change) or higher 70, 80, even 90 bpm (if this is even possible)? Also the song is said to be played at a BPM of 110-120 bpm… this bpm only relates to the tempo of the song and not to the chord change bpm speed correct? (which is currently at 50 for me). Lastly, should I aim to strum the last upstrum “AND” (in a 4:4) or simply upstrum open strings while transitioning for the next chord? In the long run is the former more desirable (if possible at all) or it is acceptable to upstrum open strings the last “AND” in most cases?

Thanks in advance for any help. It makes all the practice all worthwhile to wake up one morning and see that your fingers knows exactly where to go. :slightly_smiling_face: :guitar:

1 Like

Justin explicitly says that you can play open strings on the “and of 4”, though I don’t remember which video.

I’ve found I can sometimes cheat a bit, and play open (or muted) strings on both the 4 and the and, or maybe even earlier. As long as I do it in time.

The main thing is to land the new chord solidly at the right time (the 1, usually).

Bad Moon Rising is a good song to practice this. Easy chords - D, A, G - but high BPM, and 2 chords per measure in some parts.

Welcome to the Community, Luke.

I’m not quite sure what you mean by ‘chord change BPM’. Perhaps it would help to share how you are doing when practicing the One Minute Changes drill for the chord changes to be made in the song you want to play.

If the song tempo is 110 BPM, the song is in 4/4 time and assuming each chord is played for a full bar then you would change chord every 4th click of the metronome. Something like the following assuming a simple down strum on every click of the metronome (the ‘|’ demarcates bars):

| Am d d d | F d d d | C d d d | G d d d|

Hope that makes sense.

Open strings on the late strum is perfectly fine. Some songs are written with the open string strum.
As you progress you chord changes will become so fast you won’t even think about it.

The video for Bad Moon Rising is one that mentions open strings for the up stroke on the fourth and when changing chords, about six and half minutes in.

As you mention this song has a chord change after the second beat which is a challenge for me as a beginner if you are using the strumming pattern that Justin recommends DDDUDU other than DDDD, still trying to get the BPM up to a reasonable speed.

Tbushell, yes I remember him saying that once in one of his videos. That’s good to know about the open strings 4 and the and. Right, key thing is to land the next 1 clean thanks.

DavidP, thanks glad to be here. Sorry I should had made it clearer. What I mean by chord change BPM is essentially Justin’s minute change, right now at 50 for me. The way I practice is I put the metronome to 50 and change chords on the beat/click. So beat 1 would be Am. beat 2 F, beat 3 C, beat 4 G… and keep this loop going. Hence why I asked if 60, 70, 80, etc. should be achievable. Thanks.

Stitch, glad to hear open strings on the last strum is fine and that chord changes will eventually become that fast! Thanks.

Mat1953, Yes that’s the one. Thanks for link.


Super stoked for you Luke. I’m still in the rickety place and play stage and going through a crisis of confidence generally so I’m pleased to here of your success story to help keep me going.


1 Like

I’ve just watched this video actually. It’s at the end of the Beginner Course, Consolidation stage…



I think the pattern I use for the verse D A G change is

D D D du D du D du

where “du” is an down/up on open/muted strings while I do the chord switch.

At higher BPMs, it feels like my fretting fingers are bouncing off each chord to the next one, while my strumming hand chugs along.

Thanks Adey. With the right practice I think with guitar things tend to unlock one day without warning. Hang in there and keep persevering!

Luke, if you are strumming down and up at 50 BPM change chord on each click, then if you have an up strum on open strings between chord changes then I think you are close to being able to make the changes for the song. That is if I understand correctly and my thinking based on the maths is sound (at this stage of my work day no guarantee).

Perhaps try playing the progression at 60BPM with each chord played for 4 clicks and then a change.

David, thanks for the feedback and you’re right I am getting closer and things are clearer as why I was not able to make the changes smoothly for the song. One small detail (which makes a big difference now that I see) I should have mentioned is that in my practice at 50 bpm I only strummed a down strum on the beat no up strum but when the time came to play the song I included the required upstrums which the chord transitions sounded sloppy.

I think I understand now that the issue is only partly about bpm (chord change speed) but also partly about the SMOOTH transition on the last upstrum (in a 4:4) and landing a clean first downstrum on the following chord. Things I am trying to incorporate/practice now is to play that last “and” on open strings and lighten this last upstrum so it sounds more blended. The only way I can think of to practice all this is to actually play the song at a slightly slower tempo and try to make it all sound smoother. I haven’t tried to incorporate the upstrum on my 50 bpm practice but might do so if it is beneficial. I’ll try your 60 bpm suggestion. If anything else comes to mind on how to make/practice this ‘last upstrum - change chord - downstrum’ to sound smoothly feel free to let me know! Thanks.

1 Like

Good idea to work on the down up strumming as part of your general practice.

I’d suggest don’t over-think this and rather slow things down to an appropriate tempo where you can develop a smooth down up rhythm with the metronome keeping time. What I have found interesting is that too slow on the metronome can be as difficult as too fast when working on this. So play around a bit to find what is the most naturally comfortable tempo to work on this.

Spot on. Once you have worked on the down up strumming, initially just on one chord, even no chord ie just mute all the strings and listen to the more percussive sound of the strum, trying to make the sound of the metronome ‘disappear’ because the strum sound is simultaneous and louder than the metronome click. And then you can work in chord changes. Then you’ll slowly build up to the chord progression of the song at that tempo. Final step is to slowly increase the tempo while staying relaxed, which you achieve through small increments so the increase in speed is almost imperceptible.

May seem long and tedious but such an approach that helps you develop good technique is faster in the long run than trying to rush and practicing poor technique. Remember what Justin says ‘practice makes permanent, not perfect’.

1 Like

Just catching up with things.

I presume what you have outlined is for two bars or have I got that wrong?

Duly noted. Tempo/timing then chord change then slowly increase tempo… Got it! Yes all makes sense. Thanks again David for all the help! :v:

1 Like

Hi @Prinz and welcome to the community.

You have had several pointers already to Justin (and in general) saying it is okay to hit open chords on the Up strum of the & after 4.
Justin says this in many, many lessons and song lessons. He constantly says it.

In terms of tempo and bpm, when you increase the difficulty by increasing the tempo, try to reduce one other aspect that reduces the difficulty, to balance things. This reduction could be making the strumming simpler. Revert back to a very simple 4 Down strum pattern perhaps until the faster speed chord changes come more naturally.
Cheers :slight_smile:

1 Like

You are correct…sorry it wasn’t clear.

Another tip…I struggled with the G to D change until I learned the stuck 3 & 4 G. Being able to keep a finger down really helped.

1 Like

Thanks Richard, glad to be here. You make a good point and that’s why I’ve been practicing my chord change bpm with only downstrums but when comes time for playing the song (which requires down/up strums) things get a bit choppy. I’m thinking if on a particular practice I mainly focus on bpm than I’ll just use downstrums but if on another practice I focus more on smooth chord transition (including upstrums) then I’ll reduce the tempo/bpm to compensate.

I appreciate the feedback and advice! cheers :v:

1 Like

I will give that a go and see how it feels.
In terms of G chord I use the conventional 123 fingers, as this what I learned 50 years ago and even after that gap they go straight to that shape, same with C chord the fingers just go to the right position, must have done a good job of brainwashing back then.

This is super! Thanks for finding that lesson…very helpful!

1 Like