Chord Transistions (Guitar Lesson)

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Mark Lincoln

Chord Transistions

Mark Lincoln discusses several techniques that can be used when transitioning between chords.

Taught by Mark Lincoln in Basic Guitar with Mark Lincoln seriesLength: 21:43Difficulty: 2.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (7:07) Lesson Introduction Review
- Warm-up the hands.
- Stretch the wrists.
- Play the major and minor open chords.
- Warm up your strumming muscles by relaxing the wrists and letting the pick flow over the strings.
- Play the E major chord in the “new” way and play the type 1 barre chords.
- Play the A major chord in the “new” way and play the type 2 barre chords.
- Practice the “slanting A” technique.
- Practice the type 1 minor barre chords.
- Practice the type 2 minor barre Chords.
- Play all of the type 1 mini-barre chords.
- Play all of the type 2 mini-barre chords.
- Review and practice quantitative and qualitative techniques.
- Review last week’s exercises.

Playing chords in between other chords, or more specifically, using chords as transitions between other chords, can be an effective way to smooth out your playing. Ultimately, after learning many of the basic skills that we’ve been discussing over the last several weeks, one of your goals should be to play more smoothly. Interpolating, or inserting chords between other chords can help you acquire a more advanced level of smoothness in your playing and help you become a more polished guitar player in the long run.

"Walking down" is one way of using chords as transitions and steps to other chords. Walking down (or up for that matter) is a technique that produces a smooth, step-wise bass line within the context of a chord progression. In other words, this technique is often used with progressions such as G to Em (with a D/F# in the middle) or C to Am (with a G/B in the middle). Notice the smooth bass movement in each progression (G-F#-E and C-B-A). The chord in the middle serves as the transitional chord.

Interim Chords
So what if you want to insert a chord in between two other chords but you’re not necessarily walking up or down? Well, you can do that too! The trick is inserting the “new” chord into your rhythm structure without losing time. It really doesn’t matter which chords you pick as long as you like them, and as we’ve been working on the concept of keeping time, this concept should fit in well with our current lesson plans. Let’s take the chords G, D and C:

G major

D major

C major

Exercise 1
These are three chords which I’m sure you are quite familiar with by now. Play them in the order G, D, C, D stopping briefly on the D chord. Here’s how you do it:

Play the G and C chords using the strum or "down, down, down-up-down" and just a single or "down" on the D chord. Remember that you need to keep time either by playing with a metronome. Tap your foot and count in your head to further internalize the beat. Watch me carefully in the video for more on this. I chose easy chords for this first exercise so you could get a feel for using an interim chord. Practice this exercise until you get a good feel for it.
Chapter 2: (03:34) Exercise #2 Exercise 2
In this exercise, we’re going to use the chords Bm, A and G:



Play the chords in the order Bm, A, G, A. We’ll be using the same strum as above or "down, down, down-up-down" and just a single or "down" on the A chord. Again, make sure to keeping time by playing with a metronome. This exercise may be slightly more difficult than the first as you are nows changing between barre and open chords. If you need to review previous lessons on how to facilitate and expedite changes between chords, now might be a good time to do so. One way to simplify the change between the Bm and A chords could be to play the A chord as a “slanting A” using your third finger rather than forming the A in the traditional manner. Try to practice the exercise playing the A chord with your first second and third fingers and also the slanting A technique.
Chapter 3: (6:02) Pegging Your Chords When you are using an interim chord and strumming a single time as we’ve been doing in today’s lesson, it is of the utmost importance that you “stick” your chords. In other words, you need to hit your chords right on, in order to keep time. As we delve into more and more difficult rhythms and strum exercises, placing your fingers accurately and in time will be of the utmost importance. Playing the exercises in pieces can be a helpful way to facilitate quicker chord changes and can help you work out individual changes before attempting the entire chord progression.

Exercise 3
In this exercise we’ll be using the chords D (5th fret, type 2 mini-barre), G (3rd fret, type 1 mini-barre) and open D:

D(5th fret)

G (3rd fret)

In this exercise, we’ll be using the strum or "down, down-up-down-up-down" on the two D chords. Again, play a single down stroke on the interim chord, G. Play the chords in the order D (5th), G (3rd), D (open), G (3rd). Notice how the "down-up-down-up-down" strokes are hyphenated? This is to indicate to you that this strum pattern is to be played consecutively with no pauses. Watch me in the video for more on this. The snap-strum that we’ve been talking about for several weeks has now evolved. Play the D (5th) into the G (3rd) then the open D back into the G chord. Can you think of any shortcuts or fingerings that might make the changes easier and quicker for you?
Chapter 4: (05:00) Sliding and Chord Changes Exercise 4
Play the same exercise listed above, but this time, slide your chords into position like I demonstrate in the video. By leaving your second or middle finger on the G string at the 7th fret and sliding it down onto the G string 4th fret, you can smooth up the transition between these two chords. Practice playing just the D (5th) into the G chord and focus on leaving your second finger on the G string. Slide that finger up and down the G string and attempt to make both of the two chords sound as good as possible. Once you have a good handle on this change, bring in the open D chord and play the entire progression all the way through.

Exercise 5
Play the whole exercise listed above. This time however, play with your eyes shut. Make sure that you’ve practiced the finger glue technique and have a good feel and mental picture of each chord. If you need to peek periodically that’s okay, but try to play the exercise as much as possible without looking.

Once again, as you probably noticed in these exercises, you will need to adjust your hands, especially from the D (5th) and the G (3rd) to the open D chord. You will notice a necessary change in the twist of your hand and placement of your thumb. Go with it! If you need to make adjustments to your chord hand to accommodate the chord changes then do what you need to do. You need to listen (so to speak) to your body as it will tell you what necessary adjustments you must make when changing chords.

Video Subtitles / Captions

Supplemental Learning Material


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

Rich1165Rich1165 replied on May 11th, 2014

So one way to make the changes for the Bm, A and G exercise is to barre the Bm, then move your first finger that's already barred from the third to the second fret for the A.

2hands6strings2hands6strings replied on August 5th, 2013

Hi Mark, Have you tuned down again on this lesson, because my guitar is in standard tuning and spot on, and it bears no resemblance to what I'm hearing in this lesson...

jaymosley79jaymosley79 replied on November 1st, 2009

" There Must Be Some Kinda Way Outta Here"

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied on November 3rd, 2009

Hey Jay: "there's no way outta here when you come in you're in for good" Gilmore

ronderechronderech replied on September 10th, 2009

hey mark, first of all i want to apologize for any mistakes Im, going to make writing this comment, my language isnt english..(its hebrew in case your wondring). i love youre lesson set, it helped me alot, i really got better on the guitar since i sterted it but i am missing the thoretical part. i deffinetly got better technicaly but i feel something is missing. for example, on this lesson and on the 15th lesson you show a way to move up and down the chords more smoothly but when you say that D/F is between G and EM i dont know what it means and i can only do the exampls you show, not being able to implement it on other chords. wher can i get those "holes" in my knowledge filled? on a nother lesson in this set or in another teacher's set maybe? (of course while keeping on with your set..) thank you, rock on!

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied on September 14th, 2009

Hey Ron nice to hear from you and yes, your English is great actually. If you want to learn more about all of the theory involved in music you can watch some of the other instructors on the site including Dave McKenzie, Brad Henecke, Jim Deeming or Randall. These other folks have a strong knowledge of theory and should be able to really help you to understand more of the theoretical basis for guitar. Thanks for writing and nice to hear from you! Mark

ablazich323ablazich323 replied on July 24th, 2009

hey mark is it okay for the barre chords like Bm to barre the whole fret rather than just the first 5 strings, its easier for me to barre the whole thing and i don't think it makes much of a difference in terms of sound

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied on July 26th, 2009

Hey Blaz how are you? Yeah I don't think it matters that much if you're holding down an extra string just keep in mind that if you pluck that extra string you have changed the chord intrinsically. The chord will sound different and will even have a different name. Other than it it really doesn't matter that much. Mark

roguerogue replied on July 2nd, 2009

Mark I really like this lesson, and I especially like the Bm A G. I discovered those chords a few lessons back, but it's nice to have a new technique to use them with. Thanks a bunch! Rogue-

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied on July 4th, 2009

Hey Rogue how are you? Yes, the Bm A G combo is very powerful and is used in many songs including All Along the Watchtower (if you choose to play the song in the key of Bm). Great to hear from you and have a great 4th!~ mark

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied on June 22nd, 2009

The "random" tuning is only in a couple of lessons so don't let it bother you too much. Thanks for your patience! Mark

rakanrakan replied on June 22nd, 2009

I like the lessons, but the random tuning down is incredibly annoying.

dash rendardash rendar replied on June 16th, 2009

Your guitar was tuned down half a step in that lesson, right?

Basic Guitar with Mark Lincoln

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Learning the basics of the guitar, the building blocks if you will, is an extremely important step in learning and mastering the guitar. This series is all about the basics.

Lesson 1

Guitar Basics

This lesson is all about the basics. Mark explains guitar parts, holding the guitar, and more.

Length: 13:12 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 2

Tuning, Gear, and Chords

Mark begins by discussing equipment every guitarist should own. Then, he introduces chords and proper tuning methods.

Length: 17:28 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 3

Chords and Strumming

Mark finishes his discussion of the "open" chords. He applies these chords to basic rhythm and strumming concepts.

Length: 17:33 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 4

Minor Chords and More

Mark reviews the major chords and introduces the minor chords. He also covers strumming techniques in greater depth.

Length: 25:48 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 5

Expanding Chords

Mark introduces a few more minor chords. He also provides a monster chord exercise.

Length: 16:36 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 6

Strumming Exercises

Mark Lincoln continues his discussion of chords and strumming. He introduces several new exercises in this lesson.

Length: 19:30 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 7

Music Theory and Barre Chords

Mark covers several topics in this lesson. He explains scales and barre chords. He also demonstrates how to find notes on the fretboard.

Length: 21:45 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 8

E Shape Barre Chords

Mark Lincoln covers E shaped barre chords in greater depth. Mark refers to these chords as "Type 1" barre chords.

Length: 15:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

A Shape Barre Chords

Mark covers the A Shape / Type 2 barre chords in greater depth.

Length: 17:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 10

Minor Barre Chords

Mark introduces minor barre chords that utilize the shape of the "open" Em chord.

Length: 13:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 11

A Minor Shape Barre Chords

Mark introduces minor barre chords based on the shape of the "open" Am chord. He refers to these chords as "Type 2 Minor" barre chords.

Length: 12:36 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 12

Mini Barre Chord

Mark demonstrates abbreviated versions of the "Type 1" and "Type 2" barre chords. He calls these "mini barre" chords.

Length: 17:43 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 13

A Shape Mini Barre

Mark teaches the "mini barre" version of the A major shaped barre chord. He also explains dissonance.

Length: 20:29 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 14

Minor Mini Barre Chords

Mark Lincoln applies mini-barre chord concepts to minor chords.

Length: 12:28 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 15

Guitar Technique

Mark Lincoln explains essential components of guitar technique.

Length: 15:59 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 16

Guitar Dynamics

Mark Lincoln explains how dynamics can enhance your playing. He covers topics such as volume, tempo, rests, and more.

Length: 27:48 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 17

Transistion Strums

Mark Lincoln explains more about guitar technique. This time around he introduces "transition strums" and continues his discussion of liquid chords.

Length: 26:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 18

Harmonic Technique

Mark Lincoln explains what harmonics are and how they are played.

Length: 15:31 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 19

Expanding Liquid Chords

Mark Lincoln expands on the concept of liquid chords. He explains new chord variations and how they can be changed in mid-strum.

Length: 16:21 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 20

Spicing up Chords

Mark demonstrates how chord progressions can be spiced up by adding hammer-ons and pull-offs.

Length: 12:21 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 21

Chord Fingering

Mark explains how chord fingerings must be altered when applying "liquid chord" concepts. He also provides a few new "liquid chord" exercises.

Length: 11:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 22

Precision Strumming

Mark returns to the land of chords. This time around, he provides an exercise that contains four variations on the A chord.

Length: 14:28 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 23

D to D in Six Steps

Mark provides a chord progression that shifts from one D chord to another in six steps.

Length: 15:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 24

Chord Voicings and Construction

Mark delves deeper into chord construction and alternate chord voicings.

Length: 13:36 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 25

Quantitative and Qualitative Changes

Mark tests your guitar knowledge with a pop quiz. Then, he discusses quantitative and qualitative changes.

Length: 22:54 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 26

Quantitative and Qualitative Review

In the 26th installment of his basic guitar series, Mark reviews the quantitative and qualitative changes he presented in lesson 25.

Length: 17:34 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 27

Rhythm and Guitar

Mark provides exercises designed to make you a better rhythm player.

Length: 0:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 28

Expanded Rhythm Exercise

Mark Lincoln expands on the rhythm exercise from lesson 27. This time around he incorporates several C based chords.

Length: 14:31 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 29

Hand Structure

Mark discusses proper playing technique. He provides a few exercises that facilitate right hand mechanics.

Length: 17:02 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 30

Cadd9 and Dsus2

Mark provides an exercise that features two new chords - Cadd9 and Dsus2.

Length: 0:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 31

Finger Glue and Flexibility

In the 31st lesson, Mark discusses his "finger glue" technique. This technique improves speed and accuracy.

Length: 21:31 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 32

Reviewing Chord Changes

Mark takes a step back in lesson 32 to explain how to make quick and accurate chord changes.

Length: 22:14 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 33


Mark explains how to use the slide technique between chords.

Length: 19:24 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 34

Keeping Time While Playing

Mark reviews qualitative and quantitative changes. He explains how to keep time while performing these changes.

Length: 21:17 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 35

A Minor Progression

Mark discusses qualitative and quantitative changes within an A minor progression.

Length: 19:56 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 36

Chord Transistions

Mark Lincoln discusses several techniques that can be used when transitioning between chords.

Length: 21:43 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 37

Chord Transistions Revisited

In this lesson, Mark once again covers the subject of chord transitions. This time around, he focuses on barre chords and includes several helpful exercises.

Length: 23:25 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 38

Playing Individual Notes

In lesson 38, Mark discusses how playing single notes rather than chords can spice up your playing.

Length: 22:56 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 39

Rocking Out

Lesson 39 is all about rocking out. Mark discusses some tips to take your playing to the next level.

Length: 18:08 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 40

Slash Chords

Lesson 40 takes a deeper look at slash chords. Mark discusses why they're called slash chords, and how they are formed.

Length: 14:42 Difficulty: 2.0 FREE
Lesson 41

Strumming from the Wrist

In lesson 41, Mark reviews the warm-up section and provides new tips on playing adequately from the wrist.

Length: 22:09 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 42

Raising the Barre

Mark builds further on barre chord techniques and liquid chords.

Length: 17:24 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 43

Building on Your Chord Knowledge

In lesson 43, Mark discusses additional skills related to learning and playing chords, specifically "liquification" of chords.

Length: 20:42 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 44

Experiment With Playing

Lesson 44 is all about trying new things. Mark discusses experimenting with your playing in order to take it to the next level.

Length: 17:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 45


In this lesson, Mark once again talks about changing up chord derivatives to create a more unique sound.

Length: 20:56 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 46

Shaping the Hands

In lesson 46, Mark explains how to maximize your options by maintaining chord shapes while playing.

Length: 21:44 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 47

Precision Strumming

Today, Mark takes in depth look at strumming.

Length: 23:57 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 48

Shine Like the Sun

Mark Lincoln teaches an original song entitled "Shine Like the Sun."

Length: 18:59 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 49

Changing Chords : Accuracy and Speed

Mark teaches some useful information on how to mix postures, "finger glue," and techniques to make your chord changes speedy and more effective.

Length: 30:56 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 50

Play Along with Mulitple Chord Voicings

In this lesson, Mark guides you through the world of alternate chord voicings. He teaches several shapes and shows how they can be used to enhance your playing.

Length: 23:06 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 51

Understanding Liquified Chords

Mark brings us a very appealing aspect to better understand the guitar. With his explanation of "liquified" chords, mark will explain how to move up and down the guitar to create different chord voicing.

Length: 25:32 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only

About Mark Lincoln View Full Biography Mark Lincoln was born in S. California but was raised near Portland Oregon in a town called Beaverton. When he was twelve years old, he began his journey into the realm of the creative by composing poetry and was later published in a journal called "In Dappled Sunlight." He wrote for four years until his older sister blessed him with his first guitar, an old beat-up nylon stringed classical guitar. Mark played that guitar for five years, continuing to compose his own lyrics and starting the process of matching his own words with chords that he was learning on the guitar. He learned to play chords from his friends and from music books that he both bought and borrowed. Mark cited his four biggest influences, at that point at least, as The Who, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, The Rolling Stones.

Mark cites his most current influences as Radiohead, U2, older music by REM, and Peter Gabriel amongst others. He performs with two acoustic guitars, one being a six-string M-36 Martin with a three-pieced back for increased bass response, and a Guild Twelve-string which is his most recent acquisition. Mark is fond of saying that the twelve-string guitar is better because you get two guitars for the price of one, but he still plays his Martin equally as much and with the same passion.

Mark ended up in Fort Collins Colorado where he currently lives, works as a Marriage and Family Therapist, and continues to write, teach and perform music. He currently performs with a group called "Black Nelson" as well as with a number of other seasoned professional musicians including his cousin David, a virtuoso lead-guitar player. Mark has performed in many of the smaller venues in Denver and Boulder, as well as some of the larger ones including the Fox Theatre, The Boulder Theatre, Herman's Hideaway, and also at The Soiled Dove where he opened for Jefferson Starship as a soloist. Some of Mark's originals are also available for your listening pleasure on MySpace.

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