Unlike piano where to produce a note you simply have to press down a key and it will sound perfectly, it’s a bit more complicated than that on guitar. Many beginners suffer from not being able to sound their chords clearly even though they are holding the correct shapes. The reason is almost always because they are failing to adhere to the 3 golden rules we have for getting your notes to sound clearly on guitar.
It doesn’t make any difference whether you are playing a scale with single notes or a chord with multiple notes, the exact same principals apply. I’ve sat across from many students who knew all their chords and could get to them quickly but still sounded horrible on guitar. This was all down to not paying enough attention to how they held each note in the chord and a lazy attitude. You have to be quite precise and learn a certain feel for how to place your fingers in order for your guitar chords to come alive and sound complete.
It hurts when you first start playing guitar and there’s just no way around it, you have to pass through a kind of pain barrier until the harder skin can form on the tops of your fingers. If you avoid feeling this pain by not pressing the strings down hard enough you’ll suffer negative consequences in two ways…
- You’ll never build up harder skin on the tops of your fingers so it will continue to always hurt whenever you press down.
- You’ll produce a lot of muted notes and your chords will never sound good even though you are holding the correct shapes.
In the lesson we go through the most important rules you need to follow if you want to produce great sounding chords but more than that I would also encourage you to look very closely at the guitar you’re learning on. It’s very important that your guitar will tune up well and that the action is low, let’s talk about those two points…
It obviously doesn’t matter how good a guitar player you are, if your guitar won’t tune up well then you’re going to sound bad. This is called intonation and it may just be a simple case of needing to change your old strings to new ones or your guitar may need to be adjusted by a professional in a music store. Take your tuning very seriously! Do whatever it takes, including buying a replacement guitar, until you have a proper instrument which is going to tune up correctly. Then all your effort to learn and get to chords will be properly rewarded with a good sound.
The action on your guitar is also crucial. If the height of your strings is too far away from the neck it will feel 10 times harder to push down and produce perfect sounding chords. Get someone who knows what they are doing to lower the action of your guitar, it will make an instant and significant difference in how easy you’ll find it to learn guitar and to the sound quality of all your chords.