Chord landing troubles

So I’m having a bit of an issue landing my chords during songs… I have no problem with the shapes and I know where they are on the Frets but when I’m selecting say a D chord. I land all 3 fingers on time but sometimes I’m down a fret and not landing on the correct strings… this happens a lot on most chords. I do get it right sometimes but for the amount of practice I’m doing I assumed I’d be more accurate. I do all the timings etc on chord changes and can hit anywhere from 45-60 but honestly they aren’t very clean and nice sounding…. So what is it? Time on the instrument? Will one day the fingers just magically land where they should? Lol.
Please Help !!

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I’m going to be blunt. Practice Makes Permanent (to quote Justin)
You play like you practice. You can hit 45-60 sloppy chords a minute how many perfect chords can you hit? Slow down until you can hit 90% + perfect chords then slowly speed up from there.


Absolutely this! Practice slowly and accurately. Speed will follow.


This is what I consider my biggest problem. It is on BOTH hands for me, so picking and fretting I can be off enough to make a mess of how things sound.

I have been playing about 28 months. Fairly dedicated with practice, rarely missing a day in that time. Practice session are typically 30 minutes morning, and 1 hour evening.

I think your “time with the instrument” comment is the biggest factor for me. I can do things that sound clean but slowly. I have noticed that I like to play a couple things, so they make it into my daily fun stuff often. These are not easy things to play, but sound good and getting better than the stuff that is being done just for the lessons.

When I start a new song or lick, it is pretty much starting over for me. I need to work several sessions to get it in my head, then work to speed it up. Trying to borrow experience from another song typically gets me twisted into that song.

I really think I need a LOT of time doing the same thing to get my sound to be consistent, at speed, and pleasant. Maybe you are the same? You will want to make that mental commitment and go with it unless you find a shortcut. If you do find it, tell me :slight_smile:

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What @stitch and @Socio said. I’ve now started Grade 2 and realized I while playing songs my chords were not a smooth as they could be so I’ve slowed down most of my songs to really make sure things are sounding good. After 6 months though my strumming hand is doing pretty well at hitting the right Practice, practice, practice. (I’ve also been practicing, generally, 40 - 90 minutes on average per day.)

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what you are saying is the opposite of what justin teaches in the “one minute changes” beginner lessons….goas fast as you can and don’t worry about perfect

Justin says “So, if the chords sound a bit wonky as you go through this exercise, don’t worry” So I guess it boils down to what you classify as A Bit Wonky and how long you want to keep practicing Wonky chord changes.

Justin also says Practice Make Permanent so at some point you’re going to have to make perfectly fast chord changes to play songs.

I’ve thought a lot about one minute changes vs perfect changes. I’ve come to the conclusion that they train different things, and are very effective used in tandem. I think one minute changes work on (a) teaching your fingers the basic chord shape, and (b) developing dexterity. Perfect changes focus on perfecting the shape - placing your fingers near the frets, not muting neighboring strings, using the correct pressure. I use these two exercises together. When I’m struggling with a chord change (often a really basic one!), I practice one minute changes then follow with perfect changes to make them sound good. My perfect changes are never as fast as my OMCs!

I also saw that you sometimes land on the wrong fret - I do that as well. I didn’t see what grade and module you’re on, but in Grade 2 Justin suggests practicing forming chords without looking at the guitar neck. Place your fingers on the strings (no need to press) where you think they belong, then look at the neck, make adjustments. It only takes a couple days to develop the muscle memory to know where to land on the neck. (Though I have to return to remedial training for this from time to time too!)

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Here’s what I’ve started doing to deal with this same issue. I “extract” the chord progression that generally comprises the song. Start with a very simple strumming pattern and just repeat the chord progression using a metronome. Increase tempo after several reps until happy with speed and accuracy. Then, change up strumming patterns. If it doesn’t seem like a song, it feels easier to execute chord changes.


I think this is a great suggestion, along with slowing it down in general.

It is hard to do different things with each hand. If you are tying to learn a strumming pattern and cord progression and finger placement all at the same time, it is too much. Separate it out, work on them independently, then put them back together.

Maybe when we are much more advanced we won’t need to segment things so completely, but maybe not.

That’s exactly it, in a nutshell

This is a good topic with lots of different facets. For me, anxiety builds when playing a piece that’s leading to a difficult section. This leads to stumbling and then crashing with poor chord changes and timing. New to guitar, but did play violin for some time. When I had a challenging section, I was advised to learn it backwards. Find the hardest single measure and just play that repeatedly until confident. Then, add on the measure just before it and repeat the process. Keep going in this direction. This helps solve the anticipation problem while getting the skill to play the harder notes or rhythm.

On the topic of speed, I tend to view playing an instrument the same as any athletic activity. In order to get better or faster, you have to challenge yourself. If you go out and run a 6 minute mile every day forever, you will never be able to run a 5:45 mile. Training has to be broken down into smaller sections that are faster than a 6 minute pace. Your brain and your body need to know what it’s like to go faster. You can always go slower, but you can’t go faster unless you train for it. It won’t just magically happen.

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Yeah, I am definitely going to need to do that in Grade 2, especially with that mini F chord, that sucker just will not ring out the high E and B strings!

It’s just muscle memory that takes time. Aside from the speed drills of seeing how many times you can change between 2 chords per minute, Justin also has a video in which he mentions trying to practice perfect chord changes. That is, if you’re doing 45-60/minute but many are sloppy, then slow it down to where you can do them all cleanly, even if it’s only 15 per minute, and do that over and over, perhaps with a metronome. Over time you’ll be able to see this number improve gradually. Sure is taking me a long time to get it, but progress keeps happening, even if it’s slow.

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The technique that seems to help me the most is to use one strum per bar and keep it slow when attempting a new song. Play all the way to the end without stopping… ignore your mistakes… at the end analyze your performance. Keep in mind that the first many attempts won’t really sound like the song you’re trying to learn but as the muscle memory builds, you can increase tempo. When you have yourself up to speed, the chords will have started to flow & then it’s time to start changing the strumming pattern! Just my 2 cents… it helps me a ton!


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Yes, I think this needs to be stressed - OMC and PCC are complementary exercises and need to be practiced together!

I’ve seen several people here get hung up on one or the other, and their progress seems to suffer.

OMC is one of the few exercises that violates Justin’s “practice makes permanent” rules. Maybe it’s better to think of it as sacrificing chord clarity for speed, so you can focus on that.

PCC makes the opposite trade off, so you focus on clarity.

To play interesting music you need both clarity and speed, and these two exercises really do seem to train those essential skills in a way that - eventually - you can do both at the same time.

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Though in saying that at the start of Grade 2 Justin says that it wasn’t cutting it for Nitsuj and hence Perfect Fast Changes was introduced. This got me thinking that it all depends on how wonky your chord changes are… as practice makes permanent… if some chord changes are really wonky then maybe its best to practice those ones perfectly and let speed develop. :thinking: