Stop Practicing Guitar Chords Like This!

When it comes to practicing chords, guitar players every day are making some big chord study mistakes. These mistakes will have it take longer to see results with chord knowledge and the skills required for performing rhythm guitar will be more difficult to eventually master...

In this lesson, I’m going to show you the biggest guitar chord training problems that I see day in /day out. Plus, I'll help you learn how to fix how you do your chord exercises so that you get a lot more out of them.

The best part is, the issues shown here can apply to almost every guitar chord study routine that you do, instantly making these studies work when you include them into your practice sessions.

This lesson will show something that I want you to stop doing when you’re practicing chords on guitar. And, I do mean practicing, not playing for fun, (practicing)...

At the top of the list, is going to be to STOP doing meaningless - unorganized chord practice that does not involve a musical direction.

Specifically, (what I mean is), if you’re just grabbing the guitar when you practice without any clue about what you’re doing, (in regard to what key the chords belong to or how they relate to each other), then you really need to fix this.

Even if you’ve never considered these principles before, there are massive benefits that come from knowing the basic chord harmonies that are involved with every piece of music you play.

To explain this, we’re going to break down how to understand where chords come from, and how to practice chords in a more musical and a more useful way.

If the only thing that “Practicing Chords,” means to you – if what all it comes down to is - learning "shapes" on the fingerboard, then you’re missing out on a BIG part of chord study.

What I mean is, if you’re only playing a “G Major” chord to a “D Major” chord because it’s like that in a Pink Floyd song, then it is definitely time to stop doing that and to instead start learning to think of chords as being a part of a musical group, (a "Key").

For example, if there was a “G” chord and a “D” chord being performed, start thinking about those two chords in that they’re from a key. In other words, just simply count the distance from one to the other.

It could not be easier to do this. Simply count the distance from the first chord to the second chord. That distance from “G” to “D” is five notes!

After counting the distance, the relationship of the first chord establishes the “G” chord as the key-center chord, (key name), with the “D” chord located a 5th away.

This means that if we were to practice creating a melody over these two chords, we’d use the “G Major” Scale.

It’s not difficult to do this stuff, and if you learn to do it on a regular basis, your practice time will benefit you at a whole other level of advanced musicianship.

Once you know how to count through chords and establish their musical distance apart from each other, (in music we call doing this, “Intervals”), once you start thinking by intervals, the next thing I want you to stop practicing is just playing chords and leaning those chords only as they had appeared in a song that you’ve worked on.


If you just finished learning the chords from a song, and you’ve discovered that they’re all from the key of “G.” Then, I want you to set-up a quick practice routine using the key of “G” to get yourself better at that key.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re doing this type of work.

 Chords exist off of every step of a scale

In the key of "G" (above), every step can contain a chord type. Learn what they are.

Chords in a Key can swap out for one another

The mixed use of the chords in a key is all based upon the "I-IV-V" of the key:

The "I-chord" of "G" can be substituted with either "E Minor" or "B Minor." The "IV-chord" of the key can be substituted with "A Minor."

Example 1).
The system of practice that I’m suggesting will have three steps to it. In step one, we’ll start with a group of chord changes built off of the root chord of the key.

In our example, the root chord of our key is “G Major.” After that you can organize the chords in however you’d like to generate chords that you enjoy.

I’ve gone with “G, to C, to Em and I ended with a D Major chord.” Here’s how it looks, (try playing it so you know how it sounds).


I wanted to take a minute to let you know, that if you want to learn even more about scales and theory I have a great offer for you.

With any donation over $5, or any merchandise purchase from either my Tee-Spring, or my Zazzle store, I’ll send you a free copy of THREE of my most popular digital handouts.

One is called, “Harmonized Arpeggio Drills” (it’ll train you on developing your diatonic arpeggios).

Another one is my “Barre Chord” Handout which includes a page showing all the key signatures along with a chord progression that applies barre chords.

Plus, you’ll get my Notation Pack! It has 8 pages of important guitar worksheets for notating anything related to; music charts, guitar chord diagrams, and TAB.

As a BONUS, (from my "Over 40 and Still Can't Play a Scale" video), I'll also throw in a breakdown of all of the chords that are diatonic to the "F Major" scale.

As an EXTRA BONUS for my Phrygian Dominant video, I'll also throw in a breakdown featuring all of the chords that are diatonic to the Phrygian Dominant scale.

Just send me an email off of the contact page of to let me know about either your donation or your Merchandise purchase and I’ll email you those digital handouts within 24 hrs.    


Example 2).
In our second example, I’d like us to practice creating a group of chord changes from within the key - that operate off of some of the substitute chords that were first applied back in example one.

The other aspect that I’d like you to consider is to actually not use the root chord of the key until the very last measure. Here’s what doing that would look like,  (try playing it so you know how it sounds).

Example 3).
In our last practice exercise, I want to have you to explore taking the chord changes of the key being worked on into the “Relative Minor” tonality.

The Relative Minor of the key of “G Major” is going to be “E Minor.” So, this means that you’ll need to establish the chord movements so that the “E Minor” chord is heard as the "primary chord sound," of the progression.

This can be achieved by using the “E Minor” as the first chord and having the last chord be either 5 steps away (played as a Minor) or 7 steps away (as a Major).

I’ve created an example of this for you. It has the ending chord located at 5-steps away from the first chord of “E Minor,” (the 5th chord away is the chord of “B Minor").

Here’s what doing that would look like,  (try playing it so you know how it sounds).

Okay guys so there’s a step-by-step breakdown of what to stop doing when you set out to practice guitar chords - along with what you should be doing instead.

I want you to see results and to gain progress when you set out to practice guitar. We only have so many hours in a day, and if you waste them by playing guitar in a random, unorganized routine, you’ll never get those hours back.

And sadly, this also means that the months and the years will go on with your musical knowledge stagnating, and we obviously don’t want that.

So, commit to doing a guitar practice system like I’ve laid out right here. Starting with chord studies is a great way to get into this.

What you’ll discover is that when you do this, you’ll push yourself one step closer every day to higher levels of musicianship, of better awareness for music theory, and you’ll expand your ear.

A better ear will help the most when you do come across songs that apply ideas which are similar to this. You’ll recognize those situations more quickly and that will help you learn songs faster, making the entire learning situation a whole lot easier!



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