Students often struggle with learning open chords, and being able to play them smoothly and effortlessly. I have developed a few methods to help people get past this stage faster, because once you do guitar becomes a lot less frustrating, and more fun!
If you are looking for where to learn some beginner guitar chords, I have blogs posts on a handful, so check em out here:
Let’s work with a D major chord, but you can and should do these drills with every chord you learn!
First, hold down a D chord, and make sure it sounds clear and pretty. Pluck each of the notes individually, from the 4th string to the 1st string. If you are noticing a problem at this stage, it is most likely due to:
a) one of you fingers not pressing down hard enough or
b) another finger is accidentally making contact with a string. For example, a common problem with the D chord in particular is the ring finger likes to flatten out and make contact with the 1st (smallest) string. Make sure your fingers and coming down from above, and are not lying flat on the neck.
Second, once you can execute this chord perfectly, close your eyes and visualize the shape. Talk your fingers through what they need to do, and where they should be, say it out loud! Visualizing is so important, I can’t stress it enough!
Third, Hold the chord down and strum it once! After you strum it, and it dies down, lift your fingers gently off. Only release the pressure, your fingers should still be touching the strings, but you should not be pressing the strings down to the fingerboard. Repeat the process of pressing/strumming once/releasing 4-5 times.
Fourth, hold the chord, strum, and now release to where your fingers are 1/2 an inch to a few inches away (the range can vary). The key is to be able to place your fingers back exactly where they were, and build up the muscle memory of that chord!
Do this process with all chords that you know, and especially with any chords that are difficult for you! It pays off, I promise!