Learning chords from the most fundamental ones to advanced shapes can be challenging. These are some tips that can help players of any level practice chords more effectively.
1) Always play on the tips of your fingers.
By playing on the tips of your fingers you it will be easier to sneak you fingers in between two strings when you need to fret a note in the middle. Of course this does not apply to situations when you need to bar several notes but otherwise consider it a rule to stick to at all times.
2) Always play near the frets.
By playing near the frets you will eliminate the chances of getting that “fret buzz” sound caused by extra string between the point where your finger meets the fretboard and the fret. By playing near the frets you won’t need to press as hard either because the pressure point will actually be touching the edge of the fret.
3) Pick each note individually when practicing.
By working on each note individually you will expose errors such as buzzing notes that you may not otherwise hear if you are just strumming the whole chord. Make sure each note rings clearly. You can even repeatedly pick a buzzing note and adjust you fretting fingers accordingly until it sounds clear. This is a trial and error of sorts used to refine technique. After you are sure that every note is clear go ahead and strum the chord and it will sound perfect.
4) Don’t hack away at the strings or pick too hard when practicing chords.
If you are not fretting notes properly, no amount of picking them harder is going to make them more audible. All you will end up with is an abrasive sound, with more buzzes sounding louder.
5) Work with your weaker, or less dominant, fingers first.
By getting your weaker fingers in place first you achieve two things. First, you will be able to isolate the notes that may be problematic before they cause problems. Second, it is always easier to stretch from the less dominant fingers towards the dominant ones so stretching will be easier.
6) With bar chords, put the bar in place last.
This goes along with tip #5. Get all of the notes where you need to play on the tips of the frets in place and then stretch the bar into place later. Check out my bar chord tips video to get a closer look at how to do it.
7) When you can, use two fingers as if they were one unit.
This takes place in chord shapes like power chords where the pinky and 3rd fingers are on the same frets, just on different strings. By using the fingers together you only need to think about one movement, as opposed to two. This works with any change where fingers move in a parallel motion too, for example a G7 to a C change, where the 2nd and 3rd fingers are maintaining the same proximity and shape but moving to a different set of strings.
8) Analyze finger movement to make chord changes easier to execute.
Finger movement can be broken down to the following possibilities: parallel motion, opposite motion, common fingers and guide fingers. For further explanation on those possibilities watch my video on chord switching. By analyzing the types of motion you will need to use before you try to do the chord switch it will help you visualize your finger movements better.
Hope this helps you create and change chords better!