Chord Conversion Crash Course

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Chord Conversions

In Jam Session #37, we took a look at chord conversions and questions like:

Is it crucial for the chord to be built (aka “fretted”) as written?  Or, is it sometimes better to use an alternate version?

Look for the past of least resistance!  Remember the KISS philosophy: Keep It Short & Sweet!


  1. Don’t assume learning a chord switch should take a long time.
  2. Sometimes the alternate version will sound even better!

We looked at:

  • Analyzing the switch
  • Programming it
  • Playing it
  • Other considerations

Analyzing the Chord Switch

When analyzing a chord switch, look at whether the chords you’re switching from and to have any of the following:

  • Common shape
  • Common finger
  • Common fret
  • Common string

Common shape would be when two or more fingers keep the same shape when moving from one chord to the next.

Common finger refers to using the same finger.

Common fret is when a particular fret is involved in both chords.

Common string refers to the same string being utilized in both chords (think of moving up and down a track).

All of these can be used as a jumping off point for making the switch easier to achieve.

Tip: Record a video of the chord switch you need to make and analyze it!  Hold down the chords based on the previous chord you just played and the next chord after the one you’re switching to.  This way, you are setting yourself up for the easiest way to play the next chord in the progression.

Programming the Chord Switch

We also learned these tactics for programming chord switches:

  • “Slow Action Movie”
  • “Building Blocks”
  • “One-handed Guitarist”
  • “Posing”
  • “Top Down” vs “Snap”

Weekly Challenge

This week’s challenge was to post a video where we pick any 2 chords and explain what the common categories are between them.

Implementing these tactics into chord switches from actual songs is the best way to learn them.  Here’s a list of beginner song lessons.  To get access to the full replay of this Jam Session, and all the previous ones, and join along on future LIVE sessions each week where you can ask questions and even get LIVE help in The Spotlight, join The Band.


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