Super fast chord changes needed for Country Roads?

I’ve set myself the challenge of playing through Country Roads verse and chorus, with a D-D-U-U-D strumming pattern on the chorus (so downstrums on the 1, 2 and 4).

The song is at about 160BPM, so does that mean that, when a chord changes between bars, I need to fully make the chord change in the time between the final downstrum on beat 4 on the previous bar and the first downstrum on 1 with the new chord on the next bar?

I can change chords on the ones I’ve practised for this song at a max of about 80 changes a minute, to a 80BPM metronome. When I play the song, e.g. for the change from Em to C, i basically get the first finger down on the second string on the first downstrum of the C and then put the other two fingers down over the course of the bar. It doesn’t actually sound that bad, as it still has a C note in it… but should i be aspiring to being able to to 160 changes per minute or is that not necessary?

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Sajid @saj78
First of all welcome to the community. :grinning:
As regards the song, I presume you mean the John Denver. TMHCR it is quite fast, you don’t say what level you are at but I am assuming you are still on grade 1. I actually chose this as one of my songs to pass grade 1. I am pretty sure but not checked when I play and sing it from memory it is slower than 160 bpm. If you are using the song app slow it down and gradually build up the speed as you practice more. I started to learn it from the app and it took a while to get up to full speed. There were some chord changes that were slower than others so I just worked on them separately.
Hope this helps, keep at it you will get there.
Michael :+1:

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My interpretation of this is that you’re right, you’ve got 1 beat at 166bpm (I’ve just checked in the app) to make the chord change. From what I’ve picked up as well as the option of slowing the song down, you could start the chord change slightly early as it generally seems to be said that it’s more important that your chord on beat 1 sounds good than the one on beat 4.


Welcome to the forum Sajid

This is a very very bad habit to get into. Have you practiced air changes for these chords?
As for the song, slow it down to a speed you can manage the changes at. Getting the song right is more important than the speed. If you practice fast and sloppy you will play fast and sloppy. If you practice slowly with clean chord changes you will be able to play fast with clean chord changes.


+1 for @stitch if the chord changes at the speed you want to play are beyond you then either find another song at this point OR slow the song down so you can make the chord changes properly and then slowly speed up. You don’t want to be introducing bad habits to your playing.

When you transition from one chord to another you should be moving on the last “and” of the bar so you are ready for the first beat of the next bar. When done right it’s almost seamless to the listener.

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Thanks for all the replies. I think I’ll slow it down until I can get it right instead of getting into sloppy bad habits. I’m getting there with air changes on some chords but struggling specifically with moving to a C chord in one movement. I can do about 80 changes per minute when practising one minute changes from e.g. Em to C, but still not a one movement air change.


air changes will come as a natural improvement. The easier you find forming and playing those chords then the more you’ll find your fingers going down on the strings together. You can practice it of course and it will improve things BUT it’ll also come naturally so don’t worry about it at this point.

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@saj78 try this exercise. Fret the C chord, strum, Lift fingers but don’t move your hand off the neck then put your fingers back down all at once then strum the chord. When this is simple do the same thing but take your hand off the fret board then replace fingers all at once and strum the C chord again. When this become easy do the same but take your hand off the fret board and touch your knee then back to the C chord placing fingers down all at once.
It will be like doing a one minute change but with only one chord. Make sure you place all 3 fingers down at the same time with all three parts of the exercise.
Do this every day for a few minutes it may take a little time to get to right because you’ve been placing your finger down one at a time


Thanks - this exercise helped combined with just more time playing the chord, and the exercise was also good as a way of measuring improvement so thanks for the advice.


This was the first song I ever learned, as it had a lot of meaning in my life. I did it in the original A key though. It must have taken me nearly a year to actually be able to play and sing it comfortably. The big killer for me was the Fm (in key of A) but that lead me to playing barre chords a lot easier so time well spent. Then I had to learn it in the key of G.

Anyway, just slow it down as most have said, until you can keep the rhythm constant.

P.S. NOT for this song but for future reference some songs have chord changes and strumming patterns that are virtually impossible to get for mere mortals. It is OK and sounds fine to keep the strumming going but strum the open strings between the chords. Justin does go into this at some stage.

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Hello @saj78 and welcome to the Community.

Justin calls this Old Faithful. It is a great pattern to learn. It is in Grade 1 Module 4.

The song is at about 160BPM.
If you found that online then the internet has misled you. It is more like 80bpm. 160bpm would be called double-time.

That is wholly unnecessary.

That is going to develop into a bad habit. Please work to correct it. @stitch mentions air changes which is a great exercise for this type of issue. Also try this I wrote out for someone with fingers that lagged behind the others when going to a chord: Grade 1 - A & D chords - I'm taking it slower to make better progress ... with success - #6 by Richard_close2u

And, as others mention, always slow right down to the speed you can play CORRECTLY and get it right at that speed before moving up in tempo.

I hope that helps.

Cheers :smiley:

| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide, Approved Teacher & Moderator


Richard @Richard_close2u

I think the confusion is that the app gives it as 166 bpm, and it has the strumming pattern as OF


CC Sajid @saj78