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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Smooth chord transitions technique or exercises


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/394064

Rene 42 - Posted - 11/19/2023:  13:46:00


Hello fellow pickers I am fairly (new 18 months) to playing seriously and just wondering if there are any particular exercises to make moving chord transitions smoothly so whilst playing a tune the picking is smooth and without the dreaded gaps!! I know practice practice and more practice which I am doing but just wondering if there is a technique to practice thanks in advance ....... any advice welcomed lol

Texasbanjo - Posted - 11/19/2023:  14:07:34


A good, easy exercise for changing from the #1 (F ) shape to the #2 (D) shape is to start with the first "F" chord and move up one fret while exchanging index and middle fingers, move up one more fret, changing fingers and go all the way up the fretboard and back down. Try doing that with just a vamp or pinch, then when that feels fairly easy, try to do a forward roll on each fret/finger change all the way up and down.

Another fairly easy way to change chords from let's say G to C to D is to start on the first G chord down the neck, flatten your ring finger on the 5th fret and then move up up one fret, exchanging index and middle and make the D chord. This is a movable chord sequence which can be moved up and down the fretboard and makes changing from G to C to D very easy and fast, no wasted motion.

You can do almost the same exercise only starting on a G chord, changing to the D chord and then back to the barre C. This is also a movable chord sequence.

Some people just make the G chord at various intervals up and down the neck, getting used to where they are located and what positions they need. You can do the same with the D chord and the C chord.

You can also try to chord along with songs that you already know. Just chording, vamping, pinching, not playing melody, kind of doing a backup to the song. That will help with chord change and movement, too.

I'm sure other folks will have other exercises that they can add to what I've suggested.

thisoldman - Posted - 11/19/2023:  15:28:02


Follow Sherry's advice. A couple other things. The frets are closer up the neck and changing chords up there "can" be easier. I find that if I try to put minimal pressure when fretting it is easier to make the switch.

chuckv97 - Posted - 11/19/2023:  16:00:39


Place your fingers exactly where they should be to form the chord, then press into the fretboard a couple of seconds, & repeat 5 to 10 times. It reinforces muscle memory. (I read that years ago from an interview with a renowned guitar player)

Visualization is another technique when you’re away from the banjo. See in your mind’s eye your fingers moving to the right fret positions from one chord to another, never moving them faster than you can think. ( err,, don’t do this while driving on the freeway!)



ed: "motorway" in the UK  yes


Edited by - chuckv97 on 11/19/2023 16:02:49

Rene 42 - Posted - 11/19/2023:  22:49:13


Thanks everyone your advice and wise words will undoubtedly help me and it’s very much appreciated ??

calicoplayer - Posted - 11/20/2023:  03:49:00


Ascending or descending runs are a commonly used way to manage chord transitions. They add interest and color to a tune, with a brief break from strict chord-based playing. They are, in effect, a way to put a bit of melodic playing into a tune.

And, as noted elsewhere, using a closed moveable chord can make transitions easy and fast. A common moveable chord is the "f" chord position, which easily up and down the neck. Particularly good for backing up a solo or a singer.

stanleytone - Posted - 11/20/2023:  04:35:37


Lots of times you can just not even put down the ring finger while using the "F" or "D" chord shapes if you are just rolling on the bottom 3 strings.

BobbyE - Posted - 11/20/2023:  05:47:59


I would only choose two chords to work with to practice chord changes. The full G - shape G at the third - fifth fret, fretting all four strings and practice going to the full D-shaped D chord starting at the 2nd - fourth frets. Going back and forth, back and forth, slowly and precisely, taking all the time you need to get the fingers exactly where they need to be and at the correct pressure to get a clean sound. Do this about 10 minutes at the start of every practice session. Note your watch to make sure you are going the full ten minutes. I think once you get this down, all the other chords and their shapes will start to fall into place more quickly. The only way to practice something is to practice it, but practice it correctly.

Bobby

seanray - Posted - 11/20/2023:  18:02:04


Avoid the Vulcan death grip and place your fingers right behind the frets when fretting chords. That will keep things loose and help you move around smoothly.

Another good habit is to release pressure on the up beats, especially when vamping. This keeps the note duration short and dry. It also helps you keep time and relieves stress from your fretting hand.

adl1132 - Posted - 11/20/2023:  18:10:52


You didn’t mention lead vs backup, but when playing lead (melody), finding an open string between changing chords can help remove the gap. The fifth string is a common go-to for this, as long as it fits.

paulhealey - Posted - 11/20/2023:  20:02:45


I don’t know if this is what you’re talking about or not - but to speed up my chord transitions, I would sit with the banjo in my lap while I was watching TV or whatever, and just practice dropping my left hand onto the fretboard into the correct chord shape all at once.
I found that early on, I would need to land a finger to guide the rest of my hand into the right shape and this just helped speed things up and avoid gaps.

Paul R - Posted - 11/21/2023:  12:16:11


quote:

Originally posted by seanray

Avoid the Vulcan death grip ...






Yup. One of the best lessons in chord changing I learned from John Lennon. At the start of the movie Help! there's a close up of his left hand and it's the most relaxed chord changing I ever saw to that point (and well past that point). It shows a familiarity with the chords and changing, and he changed in an almost casual manner - casual, maybe, but sure of himself. Not rushed or frenetic, but practiced and confident.

Rene 42 - Posted - 11/22/2023:  05:50:11


I do suffer from a bit of a death grip and tend to choke the strings a lot whilst trying to put a shape on quickly any tips to reduce this would also help thanks 

Originally posted by seanray

Avoid the Vulcan death grip and place your fingers right behind the frets when fretting chords. That will keep things loose and help you move around smoothly.



Another good habit is to release pressure on the up beats, especially when vamping. This keeps the note duration short and dry. It also helps you keep time and relieves stress from your fretting hand.






 

Texasbanjo - Posted - 11/22/2023:  08:03:48


Rene 42

How are you holding the neck of the banjo? Are you resting the back of the neck on the crook between your thumb and index finger? If so, that may be part of your problem.

Try this: put the fleshy part of your thumb on the back of the banjo and arch your wrist (limp wrist) over the fretboard. (At this point only the thumb is in contact with the banjo). Now, chords should be easier to make because your fingers are over the fretboard and there's more room to make the chord. You're not hampered by the fingers not having enough length to reach the frets. Also, when fretting, try to fret as close to the fret as you can without touching it. The closer to the fret, the less pressure needed for a clean, clear chord. And a last thought: keep your fingernails short so the nails don't touch the strings and mute them.

See if trying the above doesn't help.

Rene 42 - Posted - 11/22/2023:  08:38:29


Wow thank you so much and yea I was holding the neck of the banjo as you thought I may have been, and I actually have a lot more movement in my fingers now I have adjusted I think it will take me a little bit of time to dust to this but really appreciate this advice and technique thanks a bunch :)

Originally posted by Texasbanjo

Rene 42



How are you holding the neck of the banjo? Are you resting the back of the neck on the crook between your thumb and index finger? If so, that may be part of your problem.



Try this: put the fleshy part of your thumb on the back of the banjo and arch your wrist (limp wrist) over the fretboard. (At this point only the thumb is in contact with the banjo). Now, chords should be easier to make because your fingers are over the fretboard and there's more room to make the chord. You're not hampered by the fingers not having enough length to reach the frets. Also, when fretting, try to fret as close to the fret as you can without touching it. The closer to the fret, the less pressure needed for a clean, clear chord. And a last thought: keep your fingernails short so the nails don't touch the strings and mute them.



See if trying the above doesn't help.






 

monstertone - Posted - 11/22/2023:  09:34:50


While moving from the F chord to D chord, or G chord to D chord & back, don't lift the ring & pinky fingers completely off the 1st & 3rd strings. Just relax your grip enough to slide across the frets to the desired position. Practice this by feeling the fret as you slide past it. Eventually, you'll be able to do this without even looking.



And yes, as you have discovered, you are now able to reach much further, in both directions, without actually moving the thumb (hand). 


Edited by - monstertone on 11/22/2023 09:41:12

Texasbanjo - Posted - 11/22/2023:  11:10:34


quote:

Originally posted by Rene 42

Wow thank you so much and yea I was holding the neck of the banjo as you thought I may have been, and I actually have a lot more movement in my fingers now I have adjusted I think it will take me a little bit of time to dust to this but really appreciate this advice and technique thanks a bunch :)

Originally posted by Texasbanjo

Rene 42



How are you holding the neck of the banjo? Are you resting the back of the neck on the crook between your thumb and index finger? If so, that may be part of your problem.



Try this: put the fleshy part of your thumb on the back of the banjo and arch your wrist (limp wrist) over the fretboard. (At this point only the thumb is in contact with the banjo). Now, chords should be easier to make because your fingers are over the fretboard and there's more room to make the chord. You're not hampered by the fingers not having enough length to reach the frets. Also, when fretting, try to fret as close to the fret as you can without touching it. The closer to the fret, the less pressure needed for a clean, clear chord. And a last thought: keep your fingernails short so the nails don't touch the strings and mute them.



See if trying the above doesn't help.






 






You're very welcome.  Sometimes just a little suggestion on something that's giving one problems is all it takes to get that "aha" moment and make things easier and better.   Work at it a little bit and it'll get easier, you'll play better.   So glad I could help. 

steve davis - Posted - 11/25/2023:  08:45:53


I started with flat-picking chords at home.
Dad showed me guitar and banjo chords and I said "How does your hand go to just the right shape and position so easily.
He said"You just keep trying to do it and one day it just happens automatically."

monstertone - Posted - 11/25/2023:  14:54:46


quote:

Originally posted by monstertone

While moving from the F chord to D chord, or G chord to D chord & back, don't lift the ring & pinky fingers completely off the 1st & 4th strings. Just relax your grip enough to slide across the frets to the desired position. Practice this by feeling the fret as you slide past it. Eventually, you'll be able to do this without even looking.



And yes, as you have discovered, you are now able to reach much further, in both directions, without actually moving the thumb (hand). 






Typo correction.



Welcome back Steve


Edited by - monstertone on 11/25/2023 14:56:01

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