Simple Chord Technique

Successfully Playing a Chord

There are three rules to successfully playing a chord, and the first rule is to make sure you’re pressing your fingertips down on the strings hard enough so each note of the chord ring out evenly without being muffled. This is why finger strength is so important — if you don’t press down hard enough on a string, you won’t achieve the best sound.

The next rule is to use the correct part of your finger to press the strings down. It’s vital to use the tips of your fingers; the part you’d use to press a button. You don’t want to use the pad of your finger; the part you’d use to scan your fingerprint. You want to use your fingertips because that’s where you can generate the most force. Again, it’s all about that finger strength. If you were to use the pad of your finger, you can see in the left image below how your fingers might accidentally get in the way and mute strings. To ensure you use the correct part of your finger, always concentrate on arching your fingers to create space underneath between the fingers and the guitar neck. As you can see in the right image below, this keeps you from accidentally contacting any strings that shouldn’t be touched.

The third rule to successfully playing a chord is to ensure your fingers are in the correct position on the guitar neck. You generally want to be as close as you can to the actual fret metal as you can get. This is important for two reasons. The first reason is because it keeps the strings in tune by making sure the tension is as tightly wound over the fret as it can be. The second reason is because it gives you a target to aim for when you begin switching between chords and notes at a faster pace. If you always end up close to the fret you’re aiming to play, it will build your muscle memory and allow you to concentrate less on technique.


To prepare for the next chapter, we’re going to add another chord to our arsenal. The technical name for our new chord is Asus2, but we are just going to refer to it as A for this guide. You’ll notice it is the exact same fingering shape as the E minor chord, it’s simply moved down one string. If you recall our TAB chapter, you’ll notice on the E minor chord that all six strings are played, whereas the A chord only utilizes the bottom 5 strings, leaving the low E string unplayed. Practice strumming back and forth between the E minor and A chord until you’re comfortable with both chords.