D Major Chord

Guitar FAQ: How long should you spend learning a chord?

Q: How long should you spend learning a chord on guitar?

A: The short answer is, ‘as long as it takes to memorize it and be able to play it effortlessly’ but that answer doesn’t really help you out so let’s look into this a bit deeper.

The reason why we learn chords is so we can use them in songs and jamming in general. Being able to see the chord name Em or G and instantly know where to place your fingers is an essential skill for every guitarist. On top of being able to place your fingers in the right place, it also helps to understand a bit about the chord. Understanding the type of chord you are playing will help you write your own songs or figure out how to improvise over the top of the chord. Do you understand the difference between Major and minor? What about suspended chords?

To be able to do the things above, there are a few different things you need to learn about each chord. Let’s look at what’s involved in learning chords and what’s actually worth learning. The picture below is from one of the flash cards available in our 50 Essential Chords Pack.

D Major Chord

When looking at the information on the card, there’s a few points worth learning:

  1. The chord shape and finger positions
  2. The notes used in the chord
  3. The chord formula
  4. The Guitar TAB layout

Let’s look at each point and why each one is important to learn.

1. The chord shape and finger positions

Obviously all the other information about the chord is useless if you can’t actually play the chord. Learning the shape of the chord and the fingers used will help you memorize the chord faster and actually play it. There are a few tricks you can use to memorize the chords faster. Check out this lesson to learn how you can use a couple simple mnemonic devices to memorize the chord shapes.

2. The notes used in the chord

This is something too many guitarists neglect to learn. Quite often beginners will memorize the chord shape then move on to new chords. Spending a little time to memorize the notes used in the chord will have a big impact on your playing later on. There’s a couple reasons why this information is important but let’s look at the main reason:

If you understand what notes are used in any chord, you will have a much easier time improvising over the top of chords. If you know the chord D Major (shown above) uses the notes D, F# & A then you know straight away that you can use those notes when improvising and they will sound great when D Major is played in the backing chords. Without knowing anything else about theory this information on it’s own is enough to improve your improvisation abilities.

3. The chord formula

If you plan on one day writing your own music then this information is extremely important. The chord formula explains the intervals used in each type of chord. This means you can use the formula to come up with chords you don’t yet know. For example: if you wanted to use the chord C# minor in your song, what notes do you need to play to come up with the chord? If you know the formula for a minor chord the answer comes easy. With this information you can figure out any chord you need – without it, you would need to memorize all the chords and the notes used for each chord. Once you spend the time understanding the theory you will appreciate how valuable it is. This lesson will help explain chord formulas.

4. The Guitar TAB layout

This may not be as important as the other points listed, but it does help you when you need to learn songs from TAB. On the left of the card shown above, you can see the chord in Guitar TAB format. Whenever you see this number pattern in TAB you will know that it’s the D Major chord. Spending a little bit of time memorizing the pattern each chord makes in TAB format will help you read TAB faster. This type of skill will come naturally over time, so it isn’t as important as the other aspects of the chord – but it does help you out now.

How long it takes to memorize a chord

When you consider the four points above, it really shouldn’t take too long to memorize any one chord. The notes used the chord, the chord formula and the Guitar TAB layout can be memorized very quickly. Spend a couple minutes now studying the D Major card above to get an idea how easy it is to memorize this information.

The hardest part in learning guitar chords is actually learning to play them. This takes a while because it will take quite a few attempts before your brain starts to learn the position of the fingers on the fretboard. It takes at least 20 repeats of any task for your brain to start to remember it so you will need to repeat the chord over and over before it starts to sink in.

Fortunately this is easier than it sounds. Simply spending 5-10 minutes each day playing the chords is enough to memorize them. Some people have written to us about our 50 Essential Chords Pack to let us know that they managed to memorize all 50 chords in under a month. They followed out ’30 Day Guide’ included with the pack which details a 10 minute daily practice plan. Following this plan most people will be able to memorize an average of 1 chord a day. As long as you practice regularly you will memorize the chords. On the other hand if you only practice every couple of days or only a couple of times a week it will take you a lot longer to start to remember the chords.

Our guide to learning 50 chords in 30 days

So in short – if you follow the right practice plan, you can realistically memorize an average of 1 chord per day. Try out our 30 Day Plan included with every 50 Essential Chords guitar flash cards pack to learn 50 easy chords chosen for beginners. 10 minutes a day is all it takes.


Guitar FAQ: How to correct bad habits (Part 1)

In this three part series we will look at how to identify and correct any bad habits that you may have right now. This first part will explain how you can recognize bad habits in your own playing. Correcting bad habits is so important for every guitarist which is why this crucial topic has been spread across three separate posts.

Why you need to correct any bad habits

It doesn’t matter if you want to become an expert player or if you just want to play for fun, you need to stop any bad habits from forming. Even habits that may seem minor can significantly impact your ability to play over time. The main problem with bad habits is that they’re very easy to form and very hard to fix. Nobody is perfect and it’s okay to acknowledge that you probably have some bad habits right now that you may not may not even realize.

The main benefit you will get out of correcting any bad habits is the freedom to play guitar the way you want. Bad habits restrict you and halt your progress. It’s not very fun to have pain in your hand or arm because a bad habit is forcing you to play awkwardly. Take your time to fix these problems and you will enjoy guitar a lot more as well as be able to do a lot more.

How to identify bad habits

Let’s look at a very effective method you can use to identify any bad habits you may have already formed. The method is pretty straight forward – record a video of yourself playing. This doesn’t have to be a great quality video. Any digital camera or even a webcam will do the job.

Set up your camera in front of you and make sure your entire body is in the frame. Make sure you wear a T-shirt or any short sleeve shirt so you can see your arms clearly. Hit record and play for about one minute going through a wide range of material. Do some improvising, play some riffs you know well, try some solos, scale runs and anything else you normally play.

Once you finish playing load your video up on your computer or TV. This is important because you need to watch the video on a big screen to properly see what is happening. Watching the video on the small camera screen or phone isn’t going to help.

Watch the video and for the first viewing just listen to what you’re playing. Think about the below questions while watching the video:

  • Does everything sound the way you expect it to sound?
  • Do you notice any problems with your playing that you didn’t notice while playing?
  • Do all the notes ring out clearly?
  • Was there any string noise or any other noise you didn’t notice while playing?


Ask yourself the above questions about the sound of your playing and the overall feel. This is possibly the most important point because the whole purpose of correcting any bad habits is to improve your playing. If you can pick up any obvious problems in your playing now it’s going to give you the biggest room for improvement.

For the second viewing, really focus on your picking hand. Don’t look at anything else and just keep your eyes focus on what your hand is doing and it’s position. This time think about the below questions while watching your picking hand:

  • Does it look awkward?
  • Does your hand look tense?
  • Does your arm look tense?
  • Do you see any arm muscles tense up while you play?
  • Does your hand lock in position or is it loose?
  • Does your hand float above the strings or do you anchor your hand using one of your fingers?
If you sometimes feel pain in your picking hand, the above questions will help you identify the problem.

For the next viewing, focus completely on your fretting hand. Think about these questions:

  • Do you use your fingertips to fret the notes?
  • How does your pinky move?
  • Does your pinky hide behind the neck or does it stick out in the air?
  • How many fingers do you use? Do you tend to only use two fingers or do you use all four?
  • Does your thumb stick up over the neck?
  • Is your thumb held to the side or does it point up to the air?
  • Is there a gap between your hand and the neck?
  • Does your hand look tense?
  • Does your hand flow up and down the neck or is your movement erratic and jumpy?
Next, keep focus on your arm for your fretting hand. This often reveals many issues that aren’t obvious when just looking at the hand. Think about the following questions:
  • Does any part of your arm seem tense?
  • Does your elbow seem stiff or does it move freely when you move up and down the neck?
  • Are you holding your arm close to your body or is it free to move around?
  • Does the position of the guitar force your arm into an awkward angle?
Finally, have a look at your overall body posture. This is important as it’s often the last thing people think about when playing. Think about these questions while you watch the video again:
  • Are you slouched forward?
  • Does your head hang low as you try to look over the fretboard?
  • Are you sitting up straight with your shoulders back?
  • Is your body twisted with your legs crossed or over to one side?
  • Are your feet flat on the ground?
  • Does any part of your body seem tense?

What to look out for

If you take the time to follow the steps above and critically look at your posture and playing technique, you will no doubt pick up on habits you didn’t even realize you had. If you didn’t find anything wrong with your posture or technique, maybe you need to think about which is more likely: you’re a perfect player or you didn’t look hard enough. Even expert players will be able to find minor problems they can correct. Don’t kid yourself and claim you have perfect technique because the only person who loses is you in that case.

This is an opportunity to prevent any issues before they turn serious. If you recognize that your arms are always tense when you play, unless you correct it now you could end up with serious issues years down the track. Even small issues such as your pinky hiding behind the neck can limit your abilities later on.

Next steps

Follow the steps above and really have a close look at your playing. Play the video over and over and even look at it in slow motion. If you’re honest with yourself and pick up on problems you will be a lot better off. After you follow this advice, save the video and re-record another video in one or two week’s time. Repeat the same steps and see if you’ve made any improvements. The more times you repeat this process the better off you will be. After a few times you will pick up on more issues as you will be able to be more critical on your technique. This is a good thing as it will help you as you go.

The next part in this series will look at various ways you can overcome any issues once you identify them. Give this a serious go and you will be happy you did.

Guitar FAQ: How long does it take to memorize all open guitar chords?

If you’re just starting to learn guitar, you’ve probably wondered how long it takes to memorize most of the basic chords. It can seem pretty overwhelming at first when you see how many chords are out there. But the truth is once you get started it doesn’t take long to get through them all. In this post we’ll look at how long it realistically takes to memorize them all.

Time you spend practicing the chords

Obviously the more you practice the chords the faster you will learn them. But the important point to remember here is you shouldn’t think of how much time you spend practicing, but should think about how often you practice.

For example: if you practice once a week and spend two hours practicing, it will take you months to learn the first 10 chords. On the other hand, if you spend 10 minutes a day practicing, you can learn 20-50 in a month. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking more practice is better. Three short practice sessions a day is far better than one very long practice session.

How you practice the chords

If you pick a chord and strum it a few times then move on to the next chord, it will take you a long time to memorize them properly. How you practice the chords plays a big part in how fast you can memorize them. The trick to memorizing chords is to practice changing between the chords as often as possible. It’s pretty easy to figure out where to place your fingers for each chord but it can be tricky to change between different chords quickly. By focusing on how you change between chords, you will learn faster.

The resources you use

Some chords are better to start with and others better to leave to later on. If the first chord you try to play is F Major, you’re going to have a hard time getting started. On the other hand if the first chord you try to play is E minor, you will ease into the routine and learn faster. Possibly the worst resource you can use in this regard is a chord dictionary. If you practice by opening the dictionary and starting on A and working your way through the pages towards G, you’re going to struggle. If on the other hand you can rank the chords based on difficulty, you will be able to gradually work towards the harder chords over time.

How we can help you memorize 50 chords in 30 days

We have taken the above points and combined them all in a 30 day practice plan suitable for beginners. In this practice plan we rank the chords from easiest to hardest and explain the best method you can use to memorize the chords effectively. Each day in the 30 day plan will detail which chords to focus on and exercises you can use to learn faster. The 30 day practice plan is included in the comprehensive 30 Day Guide eBook available with our popular 50 Essential Chords Pack.

Using the 50 Essential Chords Pack along with the 30 Day Guide really is the most effective way to memorize 50 basic open chords within 30 days. The practice plan has been tested on many students who all found that their recall increased as well as their ability to instantly switch between chords. If you want to learn 50 chords as fast as possible, grab yourself a pack with the included eBook here.

Guitar FAQ: Should you learn on an electric or acoustic guitar?

This is a question most beginners will face when deciding to start learning guitar (unless of course somebody already bought you a guitar). Choosing the right type of guitar can be the difference between giving up in frustration and having a successful learning experience. The link to the article below discusses in detail the points you need to consider when purchasing your first guitar to ensure you choose the right one.

Access the article ‘Should you learn on an electric or acoustic guitar’ here

There is no one answer for everybody so while on answer will be right for one person, it won’t be the best choice for another person. If anybody ever says something like “everybody should start learning on x type of guitar” remember that everybody learns differently and has different needs. For some people it is best to start on an electric guitar while others will benefit more by starting on a nylon string acoustic. It isn’t a simple choice as many people believe so take your time on this important purchase to ensure you choose the right one.

Guitar FAQ: Proper way to hold a guitar

Getting the hang of guitar is a tough job for all new beginners. When you are first starting it’s crucial that you start out with the right techniques. A common question from beginners is how they should hold the guitar. Is there a right or wrong way to hold it and does it impact how you play? In this blog post a video lesson will explain and demonstrate important points to consider when holding the guitar. Check out the video below then have a read through the written explanation in the lesson here.

Don’t underestimate how important it is to hold the guitar correctly. Even a simple mistake like reaching your thumb over the top of the neck can have a big impact on your ability to play chords.

After you watch this lesson, don’t forget to check out the written explanation here.