Skip to content

Chord Troubleshooting

    When you’re first learning how to play chords, it can be very difficult!

    What Are The Challenges?

    First of all, it’s hard to get your fingers to cooperate. You’ll try to fret a chord and your fingers fumble about. You might think “I can never do this.”, but in reality, everyone has the same problems as you when first learning how to play chords.

    That’s because your hands lack the muscle memory

    After a few days of practice, your fingers will start remembering where to go. So, it’s important to spend a little time every day with these chords until you are comfortable with playing them.

    Your fingertips on your fret hand will become sore and tender to the touch. If it becomes too painful, by all means, stop practicing for the day and try again the next day. With steady practice, you will develop calluses at your fingertips and this won’t be any more problem.

    Common Problems

    If you’re hearing a buzzing sound or the sound of the notes being played sound dull, then your not pressing hard enough on the strings, or one or more of your fingers is catching a nearby string. When you strum the chord each not should ring out clearly. You may find it hard at first to press all of the strings down firmly against the frets. If this is the case, don’t fret. Your hands will build up the strength in no time with practice.

    In summary, when playing chords we don’t want:

    • A buzzing sound
    • Dull notes
    • Muted notes

    Chord Tips:

    • Don’t let your fingernails get too long! They will prevent you from fingering the fretboard correctly.
    • Make sure your fingers are standing straight up and down. Otherwise, they may mute other strings.
    • When playing chords your fingers should be arched at the joints so that your fingertips come in contact with the strings and not the flat fingerprint part of your finger.

    Your fingers should make contact with the strings slightly behind the frets if at all possible. The further your finger is from the fret the harder it is to apply the proper amount of pressure, hence the more likely it is that you’ll get a “buzzing” sound.

    The size of your hand and the width of your instrument’s neck can significantly affect which fingers you use to play the chords. All of the chord charts on this site use the most commonly used chord fingerings. These fingerings will work for 95% of all guitarists.

    You may come across a suggested chord fingering that you simply cannot contort your fingers to play. In this case, try experimenting with alternate fingerings.