Older Beginner Fret Board Issues - I can't land my fingers on a chord at the same time

HI Everyone
I’m 65yo and been I’ve been learning on-line with Justin for about 12 months but regularly practicing for 6 months.
I have always wanted to learn guitar but now am determined to follow through and be able to play all those 60’s and 70’s classics.
However I find I am still putting 1 finger down on the fret board, then the other and then the last one, especially when playing G chord or C chord.
Will I ever be able to just put all three (or fingers) down on the fret board at the same time like Justin?


Hi Bruce
Don’t fret :joy:, I’m 57 and what I would call a returning guitarist. I would say just keep the faith and if you practice regularly it will eventually happen. For me the secret is two fold, first knowing what your target chord is secondly a mental image of the shape.
Practice the chord perfect and 1minute changes. Hope this helps.


Short answer would be ‘yes’.

Were you able to place all fingers simultaneously for the D A and E chords on day 1 of learning the chord. Probably not. And now I am thinking that you can since you don’t mention those chords.

C & G can be quite a stretch, more challenging hence coming later in the process. So be patient, keep doing the practice exercises, and you will get there.


Hi Bruce,

With practice it will eventually happen. What has helped me with a couple of tricky chords is to practice slowly going from one chord to the other chord forming the chord shape with fingers hovering above and once the fingers are in the right place landing them. Wash, rinse and repeat… the muscle memory kicked in and the fingers knew buy themselves the chord shapes to form in the air when going to those tricky chords.

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I also practice the cords with different fingers landing first. So if you fond you land the index finger first and the others follow, purpose play by landing the ring finger first for a while then the middle finger first. For me, that has helped me move towards landing them all at the same time.

It is hard, but I figure everyone who play sorted it, so it will come!


Hi Bruce and welcome to the Community. Of course you’ll be able to, keep on the consistent practice everyday. Your fingers will find their way on the fretboard if you train them to do so. As it has also been suggested practice the chord shapes and, in my opinion allowing for mistakes is also a good strategy, as by correcting the position to get the accurate shape your fingers will learn to feel the frets.

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Hi Bruce , as the others have already said it will come with practice. I have been playing 3.5 years and am still guilty of it at times particularly when playing some barre chords. It’s a habit I am trying to correct but sometimes it sounds cool to have some extra open strings ring out for that split second. The old rule from Justin “if it sounds good……”.

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As a beginner I also find the C chord to be the most troublesome of the chords I’ve learned so far, particularly as the last finger to go down is arguably the most important one (given that it goes on the C note). I think it’s probably worthy of a practice routine in it’s own right, with the specific aim being to get the fingers going onto the frets at roughly the same time, maybe sacrificing a little accuracy at first. My concern would be that at the moment I’m largely training the muscle memory of putting the fingers down one at a time because of the spread across 3 frets. The issue isn’t nearly so obvious on other chords, and even with G, I tend to hit the 2 most important strings first


@BruceA You learn what you practice. So if you never practice placing all your fingers down at once you’ll never learn to place all your fingers diwn at once. Justin has a lesson called air changes in grade 1 so he does address this issue. I see no harm in looking up the lesson and start practicing it now. Just type Air Changes in the search on the website.


@Richard_close2u and I described some more specific exercises that can be very helpful with air changes, if the usual advice doesn’t work for you.

That said, I’m 65, and have been doing Justin’s course for about 18 months. G chord is pretty good, but C chord is not quite where I want it - yet. But it’s coming.


Thank you everyone. Taking the time to respond is much appreciated. I will go back to the air changes exercise and also try the exercises suggested by Tbus and Richard. To David P, you are mostly correct, I hadn’t thought about D, E and A chords. I do put them down much better than C and G, but manage two at a time, then the last one individually but much faster than the other chords. In fact fast enough to be able to play Three Little Birds and For What It’s Worth. So your comment is appreciated and naturally makes sense. Thank you to the community for responding. I’ve just recently been reading all your advice to newbies and beginners learning this fantastic instrument. Have a wonderful weekend everyone and I’ll keep reading and learning from you wonderful people. XX


Hey Bruce, when I first was learning, I struggled much like you. I remember my eyes were glued to the fretboard. Around that time I saw a guitarist playing at a winery. I really payed attention to how he was playing and was amazed that he seemed to never look at the fretboard. Over time my technique has improved so don’t worry you’ll get there.

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Practice your air changes. Not sure which lesson it is that Justin presents this concept. Check it out. You’ll never really become proficient until you can stick your chord landings. Basically you practice sticking your chord landings until you get a 10 from the Russian and French judges. :wink:


Hey and welcome to the forum @BruceA!
Only about 3 months in to my journey myself, so really learning and working on those chords myself. C chord is by far still the hardest one for me, (followed by Dm, but probably because it gets a lot less exposure) and all the advice above helped a lot in getting it better.
Not sure if this has been mentioned, but the Perfect fast changes also helped and weirdly enough I’ve probably seen the most improvement by basically doing this:
Forcing chord changes .
I picked a song that was a bit too fast, say How to save a life or Get lucky, and really tried to follow the tempo, which meant just jamming my fingers down in a more or less correct position, adjust them as good as possible and then move to the next chord. This pretty much forced me to move all of them at the same time. In the beginning it was horrible, but after a week or two (combined with PFC and slow deliberate air changes) I’ve really seen a loooot of improvement!
Sorry, long post, but maybe it’s a bit helpful!

Hi Bruce,
I have been learning for about 15 months. I really have struggled with my fingers just going to the wrong place, as if I have poor awareness of their position. Below are two practice ideas I did not see above. I use these on days I cannot seem to do anything correctly, and also for new chords. I still need to work on gaining speed for several songs where there is little time to make the change.

  1. This is mostly for location memorization.
  • form the chord lightly. make sure it sounds clean when you strum it.
  • Pay attention to how the strings feel, rotation of wrist, thumb, etc.
  • Lift one finger and then place it back down. Did it land correctly?
  • Practice this a few times rotating through each finger.
  • Next, lift two fingers and place them back down.
  • Rotate through combinations of lifting different fingers.
  • Next, three fingers, then 4 if you have that many in the chord.
    This helps me reset on days I have really poor targeting on the strings, but was a great help early on just getting started in general.
  1. Playing songs with the app got me over a speed plateau I was stuck at for weeks. Huge benefit, but be careful to avoid letting it be a crutch (i don’t know songs!).

  2. This is more for dexterity and independent finger control.

  • Place all 4 fingers down on string 3, each on their individual fret. Go for comfort as to the frets you choose.
  • Lift one finger to string 4, then string 2, then back to string 3. Do this a few times and pay attention to hitting the strings accurately, not quickly. Pick the strings if you want to check for ringing correctly.
  • Cycle through each finger until you feel you have control.
  • Next stage is to move two fingers, placing one on string 2 and one on string 4 as simultaneously as you can manage, then swap them. Slowly is fine.
  • cycle through finger pairs carefully and deliberately trying to move to the strings in the same time on both fingers. Keep it slow.
    I found that anything involving finger 3 was a disaster and it took me 3-4 weeks to get some reasonable control of that finger. Once I did, some of the chords started to really come into sounding right, and I can hit many of the sus chords as shown in Justin’s lessons much more comfortably.

one last thought: My older hands were pretty stiff when I first started. I have worked on stretching them very slowly so I do not create any injury. I do a little warmup flexing/wiggling them before I play. I used to have good symmetry in my hands, but now I see that fretting hand can curl and spread far better than my picking hand. This just took time.

Hope this helps!


Those are some nice exercises @sequences! I will try some of that. Lots of room to improve at this stage of the game.

Sweetwater put out a video yesterday about tips for beginners that caught my eye. As is usual with things you find on YouTube, there are many different ways to accomplish things and that video was no different. One tip they showed, with regards to chord fingering and muscle memory, was to form the chord, strum it to make sure the proper notes ring out, then immediately take your fretting hand, flatten it out, and slap your knee. Then immediately go back to the chord on the fretboard. The idea is that muscle memory will start to take shape and your fingers will start forming the chord shape on their way back to the fretboard. It’s a slightly different take than what I remember using, when I’d just lift my fretting hand away a bit then return it. :man_shrugging: Planning to try it out later today as I continue to work on getting all of my fingers down at one time.

I first saw that one on the Good Guitarist channel, and it really seems to help!

I modified it so I simply slap the strings instead of my knee…easier to get a rhythm going that way.

Described in more detail in my link upthread.