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Open Chord Cross Pick
Lessons Introduction

Chord changes for beginners

If you’re a beginner, these videos will help you develop the skills to play simple songs in real time. You’ll learn to change in time between 10 common open chords. With only 10 chords, you can play with thousands of simple songs, old and new.

Don’t over-think this. Just watch, listen and follow along the best you can, for as long as you can. If you’re a complete beginner, then don’t worry too much about how your guitar sounds. Seriously. Just go through the motions, if that’s all you can do at first.

If you’re more advanced, and you already know your open chord shapes, then these exercises can help you learn to play with real music in real time. If you want to develop stronger timing, then plan to spend some time with these essential chord strumming exercises.

lesson description

3 Strums - In parts 1, 2 and 3, we will practice changing in time between pairs of open chords. In this set of exercises, we give you a pause after 3 strums so that you can make the chord changes comfortably.

2 Strums - In parts 5 and 6 we will play 2 strums over each chord, and we’ll play at a little faster tempo.

chord diagrams

Instead of tablature, we’ve used chord diagrams. The chord changes we’re about to cover can also be written in standard tablature. We have decided to use chord diagrams because it’s important to see and understand these left hand chord shapes as shapes. Tablature requires you to interpret the numbers. Diagrams are more intuitive.


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The chord diagrams we use in this section are based on this orientation. Imagine that someone is facing you with a guitar.

Here’s a diagram of an open E minor chord.