Question: I understand guitar music theory very well. But I cannot build guitar chords on my own quickly. Do you have any tricks for this or do I just need to memorize them all?

Tom Hess's Answer: Judging from your question, I can tell that you do NOT have a strong understanding of music theory for guitar. If you did, you would not be asking for “tricks” to help you figure out how to construct guitar chords. I don’t say this to be harsh, but rather to help you understand that you have more to learn.

There are various things you can do to become much better (and faster) at building guitar chords. As far as music theory goes, it is important to have a full understanding of how intervals are used to build basic chords in music. Make it your goal to be able to quickly spell the note names of any major, minor, augmented, or diminished chord. Practice this until it becomes second nature.

Additionally, invest practice time into learning where all the notes are on the guitar. When you can quickly identify any note on every fret by name, it will become a whole lot easier to find any of the dozens of possibilities for constructing the same guitar chords anywhere on the fretboard.

It is lack of mastery over one or both of the above mentioned two elements (not knowing what notes go into the chords you are playing and/or not knowing where those same notes are on the guitar) that is holding you back from being able to quickly build guitar chords.


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