Changing Chords On Guitar | Switching Between Barre And Open

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One of the most difficult things about bar chords is switching to an open chord once you have the basic fingering down. In this exercise we’re going to use one of the most common bar chords to open chord switches. We’re going to go from a bar F to an open C chord, and use this to enhance your chord-switching abilities.

Switching Between F and C

Let’s start on a barred F chord. The bar F basically looks like an E chord with all notes up a fret and done with the middle, ring and index finger, and with the addition of a bar on the first fret. To go to C, we’re going to employ a basic folk style C.

To switch between F and C, keep your ring finger in the same position. At the same time, move your middle finger up a string. Basically the middle finger goes from a note A to an E note on the fourth string second fret. Finally, take your index finger away from the bar and place it on the second string  first fret. And there is a smooth transition between a barred F and an open C.

Please keep in mind that to switch back to F, the ring finger holds its position while the index and middle finger go back to where they were on that barred F chord.

Round #1: One Strum

I’ve included a few video exercises to go along with this lesson. You will be playing with me and with the help of a metronome to keep a good time. All the exercise features changes between the barred F and an open folk C chord, with one chord per bar. 

In the first round we’re going to use just one strum. In other words, we’re going to play the chord on the first beat, and use the remaining three beats to switch the chord. This will help allow you to take your time and place your fingers correctly, while also providing structure and a sense of time.

Chord switching game graphics-1 D to G

Round #2 : Two Strums

Once you can execute Round #1 at 80% (referring to the 80% Rule), then you can move on to Round #2. Here, we’re going to use two strums. The first one will be on beat one, and the second one on beat two. In other words, we’re just adding one more strum when compared to Round #1.

This will give you two beats to switch chords.  

Chord switching game graphics-2-D to G

Round #3: Three Strums

You can probably tell by now that we’re adding another strum for Round #3. In essence, we’re having less time to switch chords, but doing it progressively. If you are able to play Round #2 at 80%, then you can try Round #3. Remember that all these exercises are nearly identical, with the one variant being how many beats we play per measure.

Chord switching game graphics-3 D to G

Round #4: Four Strums

This round is the one that might be the closest to a typical situation of switching chords where you don't have much time. We’re going to play a chord on each of the four beats and leave just a half note worth of space to switch chords. 

This exercise is the culmination of all the previous ones and by this point you should be relatively comfortable with the switch from barred F to open C.

Chord switching game graphics-4-D to G

Conclusion

Although the chord changing exercises in this lesson are simple, the trick is to make sure you are switching chords in a smooth manner. Make sure you are not completely lifting your hand off the fretboard, especially as this particular switch features a stationary ring finger.

Tomas Michaud

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Tomas Michaud

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