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A given chord change: associated impossibilities (help?)


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  • A given chord change: associated impossibilities (help?)

    I've been working on a particular Emaj7-Amaj7 change that is presenting me with a pair of confounding technical challenges. Both of these things have turned up elsewhere but this particular bit has really brought them to bear, and having been working at it for a good while now my frustration has hit the (admittedly low) level where I need to appeal to the higher powers for some wordly advice. And yes, I'll be taking it to my teacher on Monday, but until then...

    e  - - - - - - - -
    B  - 5- - - - - -
    G - 8 - - -6- -
    D - 6 - - -6- -
    A - - - - --7- -
    E - 7- - --5- -

    Sooo big issue #1: Moving between these chords requires the ring finger to move toward the palm while the pinky to moves away. All the willpower and slow motion in the world cannot teach me how to do this. Can you?

    #2: In that second chord there, we've got left hand fingers 2 and 3 crammed into the same fret on adjacent strings. I've seen skilled players get them practically on top of each other - a feat I can so far only achieve given some fifteen seconds and the assistance of my right hand.

    Any tips on how any of you got to the point where such things no longer felt impossible would be much appreciated


  • #2

    When I think of all the various voicings I might use to cover those chords, none of my options match the voicings you have listed.  Are you married to those voicings ?


    • #3



      In the second shape there's plenty of room for the second and third fingers. With my hand the 2,3 come down vertically (means perpendicular to the board) with 3 bridgeward of the 2. Play one shape, LIFT, then play the next shape. Repeat till bored. If you fingerpick the chords you can mute while you change.

      Originally posted by Unconfigured Static HTML Widget...

      Write Something, or Drag and Drop Images Here...


      • jonfinn
        jonfinn commented
        Editing a comment
        Yes. I have three answers:

        1) Check your posture because it has an enormous impact on your ability to manipulate chord voicings. With poor posture, your wrist will bend so much that it impairs flexibility.

        Try placing the guitar on the opposite knee (classical style). This will square your shoulders and discourage your wrist from bending too much.

        2) Place your thumb in the middle of the back of the neck rather than allowing it to grip all the way around: Better leverage.

        3) Practice a lot. More than you think is reasonable.

    • #4

      "Moving between these chords requires the ring finger to move toward the palm while the pinky to moves away. All the willpower and slow motion in the world cannot teach me how to do this."

      Unfortunately, such moves are commonly required in many kinds of change. 

      In this one, the index also moves across (unless you're barring): with the pinky but opposite way to the ring.  How are you with index and ring in opposite directions at the same time?  Can you move index and pinky together, before or after the ring finger?

      With this particular change, the pinky (IMO) has the least important note in the Amaj7, so how about moving index and ring first (if possible), pinky later?

      "#2: In that second chord there, we've got left hand fingers 2 and 3 crammed into the same fret on adjacent strings. I've seen skilled players get them practically on top of each other - a feat I can so far only achieve given some fifteen seconds and the assistance of my right hand."

      .png" alt=":smileyhappy:" title="Smiley Happy" /> This suggests to me you are a beginner, maybe no more than a few months playing? Less? Your problems are absolutely standard in anyone at that level - and can persist beyond that if you have unusually thick fingers, or are over (say) 50.

      If so, I'd suggest leaving chord shapes like this until you're more experienced with simpler ones.  Believe it or not, the fingers do loosen up, and speed up, but you need to simply repeat (over and over) all the chords and changes you can currently do, and (if possible!) try and think about it less. It may take a while before you can move all 4 fingers simultaneously to any shape you require, but it will come.  Just don't struggle pointlessly with anything that seems impossible right now. (Do you have to play that particular song, with those precise shapes?)

      IOW, there is no short cut or special secret (not that I'm aware of anyway). Just hours of tedious repetition .png" alt=":smileysad:" title="Smiley Sad" />. My advice would be to find something simpler that you can play, and enjoy playing.  Enjoyment is the secret (oh, OK, there is a secret after all....png" alt=":smileyhappy:" title="Smiley Happy" />).  That's what keeps you going. Good music doesn't have to be complicated.

      This is just my $0.02 of course. Your teacher will have the best advice.






      • #5


        First off, thanks everyone for the tips, and apologies for seeming aloof.

        As to the question of whether I have to play those two voicings... no, I dont. But I want to. I know with fingerings it's not usually prudent to make things harder for myself... but I'm stubborn. Plus I'm primarily a classical player (posture point: covered) so usually the answer to such questions would be yes, I do have to, because the score says I must, and my teacher says I must do as the score wishes, and if I can't, well - better figure it out!

        As to practicing more than I think is reasonable... well I think that an "unreasonable" amount of practice time is a lower limit, not an upper one. Life thinks otherwise... Anyway it's a topic I'd like to explore probably in another three weeks when I'm game to post a new thread again, y'know like "the hardest part of learning guitar is finding time to practice" but nonono it's not about finding time it's about making time and how, in your own words, do y'all manage that, &c. But back to the topic at hand...

        The size of the differential being larger than I care to admit, I'm only a beginner in the sense that years count less than mileage... Now, I do naturally move my ring and index finger pretty much together and the pinky afterwards. My beef here is that the ring finger pulls the pinky palmwards with it, then I must rely on the leverage produced by the fretting fingers to force the pinky back the way it came. Two get there on time, the third rushes against time and tension to catch up, success widely variable with any given attempt... So part of what I've been exploring is doing it in other ways - pinky first, ring and index together, or pinky and index together followed by the ring. Sorta the same issue comes up any which way but I figure it'll help me learn them a bit of independence.

        Now, as to what I've actually been doing!

        Here's where I was:

        BeforeI can grab this shape pretty easily (the trouble movement not withstanding) and there my fingers both fit in the 6th fret fine, but there's just a bit too much distance from the fret to my second finger to get a consistently good tone (no buzz) without pushing more force through that finger than I feel is comfortable.

        Here's where I'm at now:


        That's the difference I been working to achieve - not so bad, eh? Takes me forever to actually do it, but it won't always...

        So as to what the teacher taught. For the contrary movement bit I'm to play the first chord and release it. Taking as much time as necessary (some 40 seconds in this case) we move each finger in to exactly the position we want it and hold it lightly above the string. When everything's ready, and only then, do they all gently come down together. So it's a lot of wiggling them about in the air for a long time, feeling it out. He also suggested I fight impossibility with impossibility by prescribing an absurd off-leash exercise wherein we move from this:


        To this:


        Pinky tip touches middle finger, crossing over the ring finger which bumps tips with the index. Switch to pinky and middle crossing under ring. Which it turns out is really, really hard. I'm faking it in the second photo.

        And finally as to the making your fingers go places they don't wanna... What we do is, again taking all the time in the world, we fret the easiest or the hardest finger. We then do whatever is necessary to get the others in place, typically stupid contortions - abandoning all semblance of proper hand posture, jimmying the elbow towards the ceiling or the opposite wall, rotating the wrist till the fingers run practically parrallel to the strings - anything but manually moving them with the right hand. Then, when all the fingers are exactly where we want them, we endeavour to release all the dumb stuff we've just done, slowly and gently enough that the fingers can stay put, pausing if it feels like they're about to move. So I guess the idea is that we start with the fingering and train the hand/arm posture back in, rather than starting with proper posture and forcing the finger training through it.


        Attached Files


        • benzem
          benzem commented
          Editing a comment
          Well maybe a bit tl;dr but I do admire your work ethic and glad it's paying off.

          I find this fingering a little tricky too. But luckily I much prefer the voicing of this Maj7 played by skipping the 5th string and adding the 5th on the 2nd string.

          This works great 'cuz I can play the root with my thumb or 1st finger, depending on application. The thumb version is great of course as it allows for melody notes with your free pinkie finger.