One of the first things I would discuss with a student if I was guitar teacher would be finger strength. Lack of finger strength is a common reason for someone to give up learning to play guitar chords. This applies to most guitarists with less than a year under their belts.
Even though I am a mechanic by trade and exercise at the gym regularly, I experienced the same condition myself. I am qualified however, to say that learning a few essential chords and going through the routine of learning to change chords quickly and accurately, as an exercise will serve you well down the road. Believe me, I was taught to learn and master guitar by soloing and using scales first. I don’t regret it, I really enjoyed and looked forward to my guitar lessons, but it took a few years to become proficient at changing chords once I started learning them. On my own, by the way.
I still work like crazy on chords. Going through relatively dull practice exercises for an hour straight. One of my tricks with chord exercises is to choose a good sounding chord progression and play it over and over, and then over a few more times, don’t get frustrated, until it sounds like something recognizable. And it will after a while.
As Albert Einstein said (I think he said it, but someone famous did), ‘”you never know how close you are to succeeding if you quit”. I think that means you may be getting ready for a major breakthrough in a day or two, and then you quit. Never experiencing what you were so close to experiencing.
Back to chords, let me give you a very cool and simple turnaround when playing the 12 bar blues in the key of E. I don’t have any cool pictures or videos, yet. I’m working on making videos now. I have a video camera and I am practicing making a video that does not make people laugh instead of learning to play beginner guitar! So far they are all comedies.
This is a standard 12 bar blues turnaround in the key of E, it will be handy to know, it sounds good, here are the chords: E, E7, A, C7, E, B7…
Note: If you click on the chart itself, it will enlarge so you can print it.
Every chord I listed above is in the chart above. Once you feel comfy with learning and playing the chords I suggested, start to learn the rest of the chords. Don’t freak out, relax, Rome was not built in a day, this is not a race, you will be surprised at how fast you will learn them as you learn how to learn. As I have mentioned before, learning to play guitar improves your memory, I don’t care if you are an 8 year old beginner or a 52 year old beginner, as I was 5 years ago.
If you think about developing finger strength, than it should make sense to you. Athletes train themselves regularly so they can be in shape on game day. We practice the guitar to get in shape too. Finger strength will come in real handy as you advance, if you start training today. It will be a big pain in the butt if you wait or simply feel that these exercises are bogus.
The bottom line on developing finger strength is that if you commit yourself to practicing the above mentioned exercise and others, and perhaps some scales for a minimum of 10 minutes everyday during your mandatory warm-up time, you will be shocked at how much faster and stronger your little athletes, or hands and fingers will be. Maybe you can rip a phone book in half, just joking!
So, it is plenty of work for the beginner guitar player. Fun work, all work does not suck, I really look forward to, and completely enjoy my practice sessions every day. It gets somewhat boring at times. I make it fun by choosing chord progressions like the above one to practice since it is used all the time in the 12 bar blues as a turnaround.
I end every practice session with an hour or so of free-time, where I play the blues anyway it hits me. I’m not a cover song player at all. I’m am an improvisational artist. That is one reason the blues has sucked me in, play it the way you feel. So, after my exercise and warm-up sessions, I do lots of scale work which leads into some intense soloing for as long as I stay in the zone, which can be from 45 minutes and up to a few hours at a sitting.
Some of my warm-up exercises can be played in a manner that sounds very cool, using scales. I’ll show you some of them soon. I don’t want to confuse the beginners with more information than can be digested at one time.
By using and practicing techniques that are a bit over my head has been very helpful, especially when I got to a level where I can play turnarounds and licks so they sound as they should. No guitar player can avoid regular and passionate practice. Even Jimi Hendrix practiced his guitar, although he was one of the very few great guitar players who never had any training.
You can bet Steve Vai and Joe Satriani were trained in the finest manner possible. If you read any of the guitar magazines, they always have guitar lessons and exercise articles which are designed to sharpen your chops or simply can be used as exercises while you learn to play guitar. Using them also throughout your guitar playing life as warm up exercises.
After reading about all the buzz I’m making about warmup exercises and finger strength and guitar chords, you may want to take a peek at one of the finest online guitar lessons-courses I have run cross on the internet. It is an excellent course that reminds me of my guitar lessons days. I loved going to my lessons, my teachers methods and this course offer the same good experience. Click the text link in second paragraph to find out. Good luck and Enjoy. GuitarPlayersCenter.com