TAC Family Forums

Share your wins, get unstuck, or see how others use the TAC Method to create a fulfilling guitar life!

  • Stuck at practicing chords

    Posted by Ping on February 16, 2022 at 11:46 am

    I’m stuck at the Week 2 of “30 days to play” – building your chord library. It’s so difficult for me to make all the strings sound clearly for G, C, and D chords – seems like it’s very very difficult for me to stretch my fingers and make my fretting fingers not block higher strings. For example, A string and high E string buzzed for G chord, D string and high E string buzzed for C chord, and B string and high E string buzzed for D chord. Should I keep practicing these chords and not move on to the next lesson until all the strings have a clear sound for these chords? Also, just wondering if buying a smaller size of guitar (with shorter fretboard) would help. Thanks.

    Ping replied 2 years ago 13 Members · 46 Replies
  • 46 Replies
  • Loraine

    Member
    February 16, 2022 at 1:54 pm

    Hey @Ping Welcome to the TAC community! The chords can be difficult in the beginning. A smaller bodied and scale length guitar would ease some of the tension and allow for more reach. What I always tell others is make sure you are arching your fingers enough and playing on the tips of your fingers. To get more arch, move your palm down towards the floor. It creates a natural arch in the fretting fingers. Also, pay attention to where your thumb is placed on the back of the neck. Keep it aligned with the chords you’re playing. Also, only worry about the strings you should be playing. For instance, the low E isn’t played at all on the C chord, so it’s okay to let your ring finger overlap the A-String and deaden the low E. This creates more room for the D string being fretted.

    As for remaining on the lesson, my suggestion is to move forward, but practice the chords daily to build up strength and muscle memory.

    Have fun with it!

    • Ping

      Member
      February 18, 2022 at 1:45 pm

      @Loraine Thank you so much for the great tips and advice. Have a great weekend! 😀

  • tailsawaggin

    Member
    February 18, 2022 at 4:40 pm

    Another thing that can help is to capo up three or four frets. By doing this you’ve effectively shortened the scale length of the guitar and made each fret a little smaller, and you’ve also brought your hand closer to your body, so it will be easier to keep your elbow in by your ribs and keep your fingers running parallel with the frets. All of these things will make it easier to get over the initial hurdles presented by these chords. Good luck!

    • Ping

      Member
      February 20, 2022 at 10:50 am

      @tailsawaggin Thank you so much for your suggestion. I just bought a capo and will try it.

  • the-old-coach

    Member
    February 18, 2022 at 7:27 pm

    Ping-

    Sounds like you’ve made the first step in figuring out these “chord-things”, by identifying which string buzzes on which chords. What you have written is very detailed– and that’s good. Your brain KNOWS what the problems are- and will work to correct them.

    My suggestion(s)- I have two- (and they are based on my limited ability and experience- and this is nothing new or earth-shaking….)—

    1. Slow down and GET THESE BASIC CHORDS RIGHT. To the point of being automatic. No matter what the combination. No peeking at either hand. Close-your-eyes automatic. There’s NO magic bullet, and no shortcut– it takes time, effort and repetition. But— you WILL begin to see improvement, and you will deeply enjoy that sense of accomplishment. It’s only you- you have done it- and you will own it.

    Enjoy the trip. It’s not about the destination- it’s about the ride.

    2. So much of learning guitar is like going up a ladder- getting “this” step right makes the NEXT step easier. Many times the lessons build upon each other- (a “crawl/walk/run” thing). This is NOT to say in any way- do NOT go to “the next lesson until you have — “mastered”— a lesson, because I think TAC is also designed to give you a “well-rounded” program that provides a good foundation in an “all-around” sense. So even if you haven’t maybe gotten a lesson “perfected”- keep movin’ on…… but DON’T hesitate to look in the rear-view mirror once in a while- (favoritize or print out a lesson that was tough) and go back to it from time to time– it’ll get easier. You learn way- WAY- more from 6, 10-minute sessions than 1, 60-minute grinder.

    You know if you need to do more on a lesson or not. Be humble enough with yourself to get it right.

    All that said- Welcome to TAC!!!!

    Hope some of this made sense to you.

    Mark J

    • the-old-coach

      Member
      February 19, 2022 at 12:15 pm

      • This reply was modified 2 years, 1 month ago by  the-old-coach.
      • This reply was modified 2 years, 1 month ago by  the-old-coach.
      • This reply was modified 2 years, 1 month ago by  the-old-coach.
      • the-old-coach

        Member
        February 19, 2022 at 12:19 pm

        Well- that was a mess– Oops.

    • Ping

      Member
      February 20, 2022 at 10:54 am

      @mkjohnsons Thank you so much for the great advice. It makes sense to me. I’m looking forward to the day of “No peeking at either hand”. I will slow down and be patient with myself.

      • the-old-coach

        Member
        February 20, 2022 at 3:40 pm

        Ping- (and Mike?)-

        In the light of the great responses so far in this thread– and then re-reading my own post– I feel like I may “have some ‘splaining to do”.

        When I said “slow down and get these basic chords right……..”, I may have sounded like I meant to halt all progression until you have those “mastered”. If that’s the way it sounded, I’m sorry- that’s not what I meant at all.

        I should have phrased it to come across more like “Slow down, because you WILL need to get these basic chords right”. “Realize that it may take time- you’ll know when you NEED to have these perfected- because when doing the Dailies– even getting any kind of effort together will REQUIRE you to have these “down””.

        Frustration will settle in– either in struggling with learning the chords themselves inside & out now– or when NOT being able to enjoy doing the Dailies because you don’t know the chords needed in them. As I said– don’t necessarily hold everything up while trying to be perfect at one thing– but if I had to choose, I tend to lean toward climbing the ladder one step at a time.

        A very wise man once said- “expectation is where fun goes to die”. Remember that this is “Tony’s Acoustic Challenge“. How boring would it all be if it was all just too “easy”- (like, say, a straight, flat, boring, golf course– yawn). Enjoy the challenge, and that “difficult, edgy, stretch/exercise for your brain”, that comes with a good challenge. It makes the successes- (large and small)- taste that much sweeter!

        That said– Seems like in here there are sometimes two different trains of thought on how to “learn” things- and even how to approach the Daily lessons.

        (Very generally paraphrasing here)- I’ve seen posts that advise going slow with an emphasis on being VERY accurate; others feel more that the best way is to “give it your 10 minutes and move on”.

        I personally REALLY respect the viewpoints of the great people here in the Forum- regardless of where they stand on either side of this issue.

        Sometimes one “method” works better, for whatever, than the other way. I think I try to have some kind-of balance.

        But my own brain whispers to me to crawl…… Then walk…… Then run.

        Anyway- I hope my earlier post didn’t confuse you. You will find your own path.

        Mark J

      • Ping

        Member
        February 22, 2022 at 3:36 pm

        @mkjohnsons Thank you for taking the time to make clarification. I will balance it and try not to be bored at practicing.

      • N-lightMike

        Member
        March 4, 2022 at 6:17 pm

        “That said– Seems like in here there are sometimes two different trains of thought on how to “learn” things- and even how to approach the Daily lessons.

        (Very generally paraphrasing here)- I’ve seen posts that advise going slow with an emphasis on being VERY accurate; others feel more that the best way is to “give it your 10 minutes and move on”.”

        Hey Mark ( @the-old-coach )’

        I just noticed this comment of yours. I guess you made it later even though it’s higher in the list because you made a “reply”. One of the “challenges” of this new platform is that it can be hard to follow things. Maybe it’s on purpose to keep the “chatter” down and force us to “stick” to the topic of learning guitar. Anyway…

        I find this an interesting observation. But I wonder, can’t we be on both sides at once? I don’t see these 2 things as being mutually exclusive (if one is true, the other can’t be true).

        When we work on something for 10 minutes, or an hour and a half, or several weeks, or even a year or longer (so, that covers all sorts of goals, long term, short term and in between), can’t we go slow in order to train our fingers to be as accurate as possible? And then, move on to something else without actually mastering that thing? I never saw the 10 minute minimum as a limit. I can work longer. And I can work very slowly and accurately.

        Anyway, those are my thoughts on this. As always, it’s nice to hear other people’s understanding as it helps to refine our own understanding.

        MG 😀

      • the-old-coach

        Member
        March 6, 2022 at 11:06 am

        Mike-

        Absolutely we can “be on both sides at once”.

        I actually kind-of “float around” on this issue- depending on what I’m working on– or trying to learn. For me it varies mostly on how difficult the task is.

        I can usually whip thru the Chord-Progression-Friday lessons without much problem, so I give them the 10 mins and if I’ve “got” them- I mark ’em done, and move on. Most all the other Dailies I need to go back several times and re-visit them.

        Most of the Skills Courses- I take my time on the lessons inside there. I try to get those “right”– as I see them as “building-block” kind-of lessons. They are not going to “come back around” like the Dailies will. I revisit some of those lessons once in a while- if a particular Daily is giving me fits.

        So I guess what I’m thinking is that- (if I understand your question)- yes- both methods work, absolutely.

        Everybody is different in their approach, their “plan” for getting to their desired goal(s), and their own abilities to handle the lesson. I think everybody is better at some parts of this than others, and not as good at some parts as others.

        That’s what makes it great- we can pick and choose from all the great info, help, and advice within the Forum here, and use it directly and immediately to get past our own “hurdles” as they come along.

        Always great to hear from you!

        MJ

      • N-lightMike

        Member
        March 6, 2022 at 4:42 pm

        Mark,

        Reading your thoughts and presenting my own thoughts seems to help me refine my understanding. This last comment of yours helps me to see something that has only been seen in vague outline until now.

        You said “yes- both methods work, absolutely”. And that’s when I saw clearly how I can improve my own learning method.

        I think the two ideas we are discussing are two parts of the same method.

        When I am trying to learn something that involves technique on the guitar, I need to go slow, very slow. I need to continue going slow until it speeds itself up automatically and I can play fast and clean.

        However, I shouldn’t work on one thing for more that 15 or 20 minutes tops or I will burn out. It will be more of an exercise in frustration than a slow but steady technique improvement session.

        Now this goes for learning a new song or anything that is taking effort. So obviously it covers everything except when I am just having fun on the guitar and flowing along with my sound effortlessly. And another obvious thing is that if I am practicing for an hour or two, that involved many different things I was working on.

        This clear picture of how to practice by going slow and limiting the time spent on any one thing is going to change my guitar practice a lot. I may well have a small win to share in the near future.

        MG 😀

      • the-old-coach

        Member
        March 6, 2022 at 10:10 pm

        Mike-

        Your comment about not working “on one thing for more than 15 or 20 minutes or I will burn out” reminds me of a few threads that have come along here in the Forum.

        I know that —- I—- seem to learn something easier if I have a few 10-15 minute shots at it, MUCH better than trying to learn something in one, say hour-and-a-half grinder- (that for me- also- becomes the “more of an exercise in frustration” that you mention. I know that I personally, seem much “sharper” in the FIRST 10-20 minutes than the LAST 20 minutes of a practice session. I think my brain just gets tired.

        And I love the way you put it- “going slow until it speeds itself up automatically”. How true that is!

        I think the “automatically” is the result from all the seeds planted along the way. While each lesson in itself day-in-day-out may not have seemed all that important by themselves, over time and effort– the bigger broader picture starts to show. And the result is a wide base of skills—- all of a sudden, we are able to play things we couldn’t!

        In my weird way of seeing things— this is the essence of TAC.

        Anyway, I’m just rambling-on now. But I think these kinds of discussions play a VITAL role in learning here in TAC. Learning guitar is NOT easy! People have questions as they hit chuckholes in their search for the “path” that suits them best.

        In my way of thinking, LEARNING HOW TO LEARN is as important as the actual hands-on.

        Always appreciative of your insight-

        MJ

      • N-lightMike

        Member
        March 7, 2022 at 10:45 am

        This is awesome and kinda funny, Mark. We have a thread within a thread going on here. Thanks for responding one more time. After all the thinking and reading I’ve done in this inside thread, your latest comment seems to cement some of my ideas. And I totally agree that “this is the essence of TAC”. I also agree that these discussions are vital to learning the TAC method. Learning how to learn. How blessed are we?

        MG 😀

  • N-lightMike

    Member
    February 19, 2022 at 12:58 pm

    Ok, first thing I need to say @Ping , is to directly answer your question: NO, do not stay stuck on these chords. That’s exactly why so many other methods create so much frustration that people quit trying to play guitar.

    Tony’s method works for so many people because he takes a completely different approach. Try the chords. Do the best you can then go to the next lesson. This way, you are moving forward and you can have fun.

    How can you have fun when you can’t play these chords cleanly? Simple, don’t judge yourself by how well you do or don’t “master” the lesson. It’s totally unimportant. In fact, it’s actually harmful to attempt to “master” anything. So what DO you do?

    Ok, first, watch Tony’s explanation in the course “TAC Quick Start” under the “Skills Courses”. He will tell you all about how his method works. The way I like to understand it is that we are trying to be like children. We have fun trying but we don’t care how well we do. Since we are “just a child”, we don’t expect to do well. That opens the door to recognizing the “small win”, that is, the things we did well and/or the things we learned. What do we do with the things we couldn’t do?

    That’s another part of Tony’s method. We DO NOT beat ourselves up over what we can’t do well. Either by berating ourselves OR by wearing ourselves out trying to “master” something in one day that’s realistically going to take days, weeks, or even months to get down. Instead, you make your “challenge” a regular part of your guitar routine. Every day when you play/practice your guitar, you are going to spend a few minutes working on your chords.

    Ah, finally, we are at the point to help you know exactly how to work on those chords. Take one chord at a time and spend a little while just trying different positions with your fingers, wrist, elbow, even the way you are holding the guitar. Experiment till you can get that one chord to sound clean. Then stop an move on. Leave some for the next day. This is going to take too much time to do in one session or even one day. Maybe at the end of one week you will get one chord down cleanly.

    Once you get one chord, work on another. When you get 2 chords down, you can practice going very slowly from one position to another position.

    In the meantime, play a song with horrible sounding chords. Who cares? Have fun and enjoy what your can do.

    I hope this helps.

    MG 😀

    • Ping

      Member
      February 20, 2022 at 10:59 am

      @MikeGaurnier Thank you so much for the great advice. I tried to “master” each lesson but am going to stop doing that by practicing like a child and tackling one chord by one chord.

      • N-lightMike

        Member
        February 20, 2022 at 11:13 am

        That’s great @Ping . One thing I didn’t spell out, is when you notice something you did well or something you learned, you give yourself a “pat on the back”. Post a “small win” so we can follow your progress. That makes it extra fun. We see our progress and we see the progress of others. It’s just a huge boost. 😄

        MG 😀

      • Ping

        Member
        February 22, 2022 at 3:40 pm

        @MikeGaurnier Thank you for the suggestion.

      • N-lightMike

        Member
        February 23, 2022 at 11:24 am

        👍😊

      • the-old-coach

        Member
        February 26, 2022 at 3:16 pm

        Giving yourself an occasional pat on the back is great advice indeed!👍

  • Greer

    Member
    February 25, 2022 at 5:42 pm

    Thank you so much for all your posts as I was or am having the same problems, so now I will take all that good advice on board and not practice for an hour a day and just do 10min a few times a day as I was getting very frustrated and very sore fingertips. 🙃

    Cheers

    • N-lightMike

      Member
      February 26, 2022 at 6:54 pm

      Shorter sessions, more times a day is a really good way to practice, @Greer . But you don’t have to limit yourself to 10 minutes. But 1 1/2 hours is overkill. Maybe do 1/2 and hour a couple of times a day? Or maybe 15 minutes, 3 times a day? Whatever works. You don’t have to stop at 10 minutes, but don’t wear yourself out either.

      I’m glad the advice is helpful to you.

      MG 😀

  • OldDawg

    Member
    February 26, 2022 at 10:01 am

    I will second Greer’s post as I was just about to post a similar question that Ping did. I was wondering how long to stay in a section. That would lead to “30 Days” becoming “90 Days” which becomes frustration which becomes another dust collector in the corner of the room. Thank you all for the feedback to @Ping.

    I also have to remind myself what I learned in my current pursuit of Judo.. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

  • Kim-Fitz

    Member
    February 26, 2022 at 3:28 pm

    Hi Ping,

    I’m not sure anyone mentioned this, but I think it help to learn a song with these cords. There are lots of songs you can play with just these 3 cords. (C,D, G) It makes it more fun practicing. Playing a song will also help with strumming, rhythm and timing.

    Kim

    • N-lightMike

      Member
      February 26, 2022 at 6:56 pm

      Yes, that’s very true, @Kim-Fitz

      MG 😀

      • Ping

        Member
        March 4, 2022 at 1:38 pm

        @Kim-Fitz @OldDawg @MikeGaurnier @the-old-coach @Greer Thank you for your inputs or suggestion! Have a great weekend!

        • This reply was modified 2 years, 1 month ago by  Ping.
  • punder

    Member
    March 8, 2022 at 12:10 pm

    Something that’s helped me lately is to pick a few chords that really give me trouble, and just hammer on them (no pun intended) in progressions for several minutes every day. Seems like other, easier chords get a little better as a side benefit.

    The problem chords I picked are the full four-finger G, Dm, and Bm (the one with index on high E fret 2). I still can’t get the ring/pinky combo down reliably, but it’s getting better. I do D-G-E-E-G-A-A-G-E (“runnin down a dream”, try it!) and then do G-Dm and G-Bm, over… and over… and over. It’s tough but I do see almost daily improvement, both in these chords and the easier ones that get less work.

    • the-old-coach

      Member
      March 8, 2022 at 12:21 pm

      That sounds like a GREAT warmup!👍

      • punder

        Member
        March 8, 2022 at 2:36 pm

        @the-old-coach Hey Mark, the runnin-down-a-dream thing is an awful lot of fun too. Just sounds really cool, almost like it was written by somebody who knew what he was doing 😃 So it’s very satisfying when you can start speeding it up.

        My whole thing lately has been serious back to basics. So easy to get caught up in the “must move ahead” mindset, which I’ve done, and I realized I needed to bang on some fundamentals for a while. @Ping you might try something similar to see if it works for you.

      • the-old-coach

        Member
        March 8, 2022 at 7:23 pm

        I like droppin’ my pinkie on the B & high E and do an up-strum at the “end” of a chord—- right before the “next” chord—- for a little fun and twang. Sort of — Down…. down…. down- up-up.

      • Ping

        Member
        March 9, 2022 at 10:08 am

        @punder Sure, I will try to run down a “dream”. Thank you.

  • punder

    Member
    March 8, 2022 at 2:46 pm

    @Ping also, the main thing you want to concentrate on at this point isn’t how clean you can play the chord, or how well you mute the unplayed strings, but just getting your fingers on the right spots. Buzzy chords are part of the territory for beginners—it’s frustrating, but there it is…

    I might be wrong, a more experienced player might advise you to get those chords ringing clearly ASAP. But it seems to me that will come naturally with repetition. Guitar requires vast (sometimes seemingly infinite) amounts of patience! 😵

    • Ping

      Member
      March 8, 2022 at 5:40 pm

      @punder Thank you for the great advice. It helps.

  • Cadgirl

    Member
    March 9, 2022 at 3:38 am

    A lot of ‘having a Chord library’ is just knowing what that chord is. If you have a sheet of music in front of you and it’s got a G, C and D in it. You might muddle through it, but you know those chords. It takes a while till your fingers can hold the chords correctly so they don’t buzz or sound dead. So go on with the lesson. I hate to tell someone to buy another guitar. When I first started with TAC I used my nieces child’s guitar (1/4 size). I could sit close to my computer and not have to worry about it banging into the side of the deck. Those are inexpensive. I do find a little smaller guitar easier to work with. Good Luck.

    • Ping

      Member
      March 9, 2022 at 10:14 am

      @Cadgirl Thank you for your inputs. It helps.

  • AttyTJ

    Member
    March 9, 2022 at 10:07 am

    I used to spend a lot of time, here, and came back today to see this awesome Question and Thread in response. So many great ideas, all worth pursuing, BUT: PICK ONE. For now at least.

    Example: The G, C, D (1, 4, 5 in the key of G) chords bring lots of issues. A 6 string, 5 string and 4 string Chord. So, until you are comfortable, pick one, and play only the top three strings. It is a valid chord, and for the G it is a G on the E string, for C it is a C on the B string, and for D it is a full pattern. You will be amazed at the buzz free sound of that compilation. Next, move between them.

    When it is fun and comfortable, add the D string (4th from the bottom). Then the A, etc. At ten minutes per session, you will find your chord sound and transitions (movement) will grow exponentially, and will be cleaner each time you play.

    You clearly understand, so go get it, and Welcome to TAC.

    • Ping

      Member
      March 10, 2022 at 2:18 pm

      @AttyTJ Thank you for the great suggestion! I will try it.

  • the-old-coach

    Member
    March 9, 2022 at 9:33 pm

    Ping-

    While you’re working on those chords- (I realize it’s been a couple of weeks now since your original post)- here’s something you might try.

    So this is a TOTALLY “if-you-want-to” thing—- while you’re in the chord-playing mood- maybe after your lesson, search-up one of the Tabbed-song websites- (like e-chords or Ultimate Guitar), and find yourself an “easier” song- (maybe like something from Creedence Clearwater Revival- maybe “Stuck in Lodi Again”).

    Play along in it and SEE, FEEL, and HEAR how the chords that —–you—– are playing, and the sounds you are making, are becoming part of that song.

    Notice the difference in the sound as the song changes chords, and how YOUR chord change somehow goes in perfectly. And after a short while, the transitions- (very important)- will be smooth as silk.

    All the while- remember that it does NOT matter how “good” you do. Just go with it and have some fun.

    My crazy two-cents.

    the coach

    • Ping

      Member
      March 10, 2022 at 2:19 pm

      @the-old-coach Thank you for the great suggestion! I will give it a try.

  • speckpgh

    Member
    March 18, 2022 at 8:23 am

    Its been a month since your original Post… Have you noticed an improvement?

    • Ping

      Member
      March 19, 2022 at 5:56 pm

      @speckpgh Thank you. Not much progress on chords. Probably the position or posture of my fretting hand or the left arm (the left wrist and elbow) is not quite right. I haven’t found a comfortable way to fret those chords. Still trying to adjust……

      Have a good weekend.

      • speckpgh

        Member
        March 19, 2022 at 6:57 pm

        Wow, I am sure that is frustrating. Maybe you should try to find someone local who can help you in person. Internet is great, without question, but sometimes someone face to face, in 5 seconds can do things you just can’t virtually.

        • This reply was modified 2 years, 1 month ago by  speckpgh.
      • Ping

        Member
        March 22, 2022 at 10:35 am

        @speckpgh @Skyman I think you both are right and I may need an in-person lesson to solve it and make progress. Thank you very much for the suggestion.

  • Skyman

    Member
    March 20, 2022 at 12:00 pm

    @speckpgh, good advice I think. I’m personally doing weekly in-person lessons along with the TAC program. Where I “think” I’m doing something correctly, a teacher can hear and see what you aren’t doing right, and help make corrections. This I believe will result in not picking up bad habits early. He’s also done things like taping my ring and middle fretting fingers together to get a better “feel” of how my finger positioning should be. I thought I was doing things pretty good until I was shown what I could not see. I know the in-person lessons aren’t possible for a lot of people, and that is why courses like this are so popular. Maybe even a one time consultation would be of benefit. I wish you success, and know you will press on.

    • speckpgh

      Member
      March 21, 2022 at 6:49 am

      Agreed, in my third month of learning, and I concluded around 6-8 weeks in I really do need to find an in person coach/teacher/mentor. I know not everyone can afford weekly guitar lessons, and it doesn’t need to necessarily be a professional teacher every week, but l think @Ping would benefit from just finding someone locally who is an experienced player/teacher who she can meet with in person from time to time. Perhaps someone else here on TAC is close by who could help her?

      If she hasn’t gotten past this issue in a month on her own, I think she really needs someone to sit down with her in person. (Assuming she is actively practicing daily etc). You should see some level of progress after that much time, and since she still isn’t that means she needs some help, and clearly, internet recommendations aren’t getting it done. I give her credit, extreme credit, that she is still working hard after a month of little to no progress.. but I would fear, she may not be able to get past this on her own, and nothing is more likely to cause someone to quit, than frustration without progress.

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