3 Exercises To Master Open Chords
[Beginner Guitar Players Guide]

By Dylan Andrews

Open chords are usually the first challenge everyone faces.

Why is this?

Open chords are the first building block that new guitar players learn.

Learning open chords will allow you to play your favorite songs, play with others, and start having fun playing the guitar. 

However, mastering these chords can take months, if not years, for most. Yet, the point of playing the guitar is to have fun, and there's nothing fun about slow progress. 

So, to help you master these open chords quickly, I want to go through 3 exercises I teach my students to get them paying fast. Here we go!

OPEN CHORD EXERCISE #1: MASTERY CELLS

To do this, you first need to choose a 4-chord progression. It can be any four open chords, but in this case, we will go with Am, C, G, and D. 

Most people then play all four chords in a row repeatedly until they get it down or give up.

This is a big mistake. 

When you play all of them, you absorb too much information. Your brain is trying to keep up, but you are not giving it any time to soak the information in. This is why most people learn slowly—they do too much at once!

What I recommend doing is something I call "Mastery Cells."

This is where you break up the item into cells and work on it bit by bit. The formula looks like this:

  • Mastery Cell #1: Chord 1 & Chord 2
  • Mastery Cell # 2: Chord 2 & Chord 3
  • Mastery Cell #3: Chords 1-3
  • Mastery Cell #4 Chord 3 & Chord 4
  • Mastery Cell #5: Chords 2-4
  • Mastery Cell #6: Chords 1-4
  • Mastery Cell #7: Chords 1-4 multiple times in a row

So, if we take the chord progression above, it would look like this: 

  • Mastery Cell #1: Am C
  • Mastery Cell # 2: C G
  • Mastery Cell #3: Am C G
  • Mastery Cell #4 G D
  • Mastery Cell #5: C G D
  • Mastery Cell #6: Am C G D
  • Mastery Cell #7: Am C G D multiple times in a row

This will skyrocket your progress if you consistently do it.


OPEN CHORD EXERCISE #2: All Fingers down at the same time

A common issue is when the beginner plays open chords, all the fingers come down one at a time. To fix this, you can switch between two chords, with the left hand only, slow enough for all fingers to land simultaneously. 

Remember to go very slooooow. If your fingers are still not all landing simultaneously you need to go slower. 

OPEN CHORD EXERCISE #2: Isolation

When practicing, most guitar players do too much at once, as I mentioned above. But sometimes, even two chords are too much!

So, the best thing to do is isolate your hands. 

Take a chord progression you practice, and do it only with your left hand four times. 

Then, use only your right hand four times and then four times together. Repeat this process, and you will learn so much faster!

Watch the video below to see me go into more detail on mastering open chords.