Guitar/Chord changes from D to A

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The change of fingering from D major to A major

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The first change of chords

Here I'll show you in slow motion how to change from D to A. Try to follow the sequence exactly. What seems slow to you now will become incredibly fast over time. Just by singing the examples you will practice the correct movement sequence over and over again and your fingers will get used to the position.

The first few chord changes are not extremely fast. Speed ​​takes time and comes with practice. Note that it would be much easier and faster if a teacher showed you everything and you didn't have to read everything.

Don't practice chords, practice chord changes!

It is more important to be able to play the chord changes than to be able to play the individual chords. You will then learn the chords automatically.

The D major chord

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If you are reading this article on your mobile phone, you should hold the display horizontally.

In the chord diagram you can see a "d" that is upside down. It's a little mnemonic for the beginning.
It's a "d" and not a "p". You still remember that chords are drawn upside down so that you don't have to think in reverse.[1]
The index finger moves one string higher.
The middle finger moves two strings higher and comes directly under the index finger.
The ring finger slides back one fret and comes directly under the middle finger. Now all three fingers are in the same fret.

Of course, in practice you will lift your fingers a little earlier so that they are all suspended;
but it is important that you place your fingers one after the other when changing from D to A major.
First the index finger, then the middle finger, then the ring finger.

The change of fingering from A major to D major

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Now the whole thing goes backwards.

The A major chord

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In this picture you can see that in practice the fingers are not exactly aligned, but are at a slight angle to each other, as shown here. This makes it easier to reach with the fingers. The index finger does not come as close to the fret as you would actually like. But it will be sufficient.
First, lift all your fingers and then place your index finger one string lower. You have already lifted the other two fingers, but they remain suspended...
Then the middle finger goes two strings lower. (It should already have covered half the distance with the index finger.)
Finally, the ring finger slides “around the corner”.
That means: it goes one fret further onto the second string from the bottom.

\version "2.20.0"
\header {
  title="4/4-Downstrokes with changing D and A major "
myChords = \new ChordNames { \chordmode {
    d1 a d a
myRhythm = { \repeat volta 4 {
  <a d a>4 \downbow
  <a d' fis'> \downbow 
  <a d a>4 \downbow 
  <a d' fis'> \downbow 

  <e, a e>4 \downbow 
  <a cis' e'> \downbow 
  <e, a e>4 \downbow 
  <a cis' e'> \downbow 
  <a d a>4 \downbow
  <a d' fis'> \downbow 
  <a d a>4 \downbow 
  <a d' fis'> \downbow 

  <e, a e>4 \downbow 
  <a cis' e'> \downbow 
  <e, a e>4 \downbow 
  <a cis' e'> \downbow
  \mark "4x"
\score { <<
  \new Voice \with {
    \consists "Pitch_squash_engraver"
    \set Staff.midiInstrument = "acoustic guitar (nylon)"
    \override NoteHead.X-offset = 0
>> \layout{} }

\score { <<
  \unfoldRepeats {
    \tempo 4 = 120
    \time 4/4
    \key d \major
    \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"acoustic guitar (nylon)"
    <a d a d' fis'>1 \downbow
>> \midi{} }

\paper {
  % bookTitleMarkup=##f


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I repeat myself again:


Don't practice chords, practice chord changes!

At first, everything is practiced veeeeery slooooowly!
Only gradually can you get faster with the changes.
It is important to change correctly, i.e. in the right order. The aim is for the fingers to then be placed smoothly on the fingerboard. If you "just" place your fingers on the fingerboard, you run the risk of placing the fingers one at a time, with each finger still having to find its place. It is then not a smooth movement, but three choppy movements that take much more time.

Imagine the flow of the movement!

From D to A And from A to D

The whole thing looks something like this:

What today happens slowly, one after the other, will soon solidify, so that the fingers know their position so well that they can sort themselves out in the air. After a few weeks, the fingers know the position they should take so well that when making small or large chord jumps (D-A; C-D / G-Am; Em-D) you can put all your fingers down at the same time without even looking at the fretboard.

Of course, the fingers are sorted then too, but that happens in the air. You do exactly the same movement sequence that you are learning here in slow motion.

It will take a little while before you can play pieces that require extremely fast fingering changes. But there is still time for that. For the first strumming patterns, where you always switch back and forth between the bass string and the melody strings, it is perfectly sufficient to take care of the fingers of the top three bass strings first. Because they are struck first. The fingers of the melody strings therefore have a little bit of time.

You don't even need to think about it too much, because it happens automatically. Take your time and don't develop false ambition. That would simply be out of place here. In traffic, too, you often shift down a gear before overtaking.

"All fingers at the same time" is not a goal for the first 6 lessons of the Campfire Diploma. You will learn that a little later. And with the right finger switching, it almost happens automatically.


Those who learn longer slowly,
plays faster fast


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Pay attention to the position of your middle and ring fingers! One position or the other will appear again and again in the next 6 chords for the “Campfire Diploma” and in 3 chords for the “Folk Diploma”. It is worth paying attention.

"In D major: "In A major:


Tips for the first songs

Pick at least one or two songs that you will practice regularly until the next lesson. If you manage to sing one or two songs twice a day, you will make enormous progress. And don't be upset if it doesn't sound good right away. It will come with time.

Pay attention to the opening

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In many songs, you don't start with the beat pattern right from the first word. Look at the song sheets to see where the first chord is. It is the first word that is given more emphasis in terms of rhythm. The words before the first "1" are called the upbeat.

He's got the [D]whole world in his hand...
I[D]danced in the morning when the world was young...

  • In the first lesson, you should play at least one verse and the chorus of each song you know.
  • For practicing at home, it is enough to regularly sing at least one or two songs that you like or that are easy.
  • Less familiar songs are intended for later repetition.
  • If a song is too low for you, then use a capo.
  • If there is a song in 3/4 time, this is intended as a review after you have learned the 3/4 beat in the next lesson.
  • If an A7 or just a 7 appears, then ignore it. We'll learn the A7 later, and it can wait. Just keep playing the A.

Song Examples:

  • Play a chord for one bar
  • A '-' means play the chord for another bar
  • (!!!) means easy song for practicing.
  1. He's got the whole world (!!!)
  2. Rock My Soul
    more examples
  3. YT   Achey breaky heart (Billy Ray Cyrus)
  4. YT   Bruttosozialprodukt (Geier Sturzflug)
    A - D -
  5. YT   Polly Wolly Doodle
  6. YT   Eisgekühlter Bommerlunder (Tote Hosen)
    D - - A , A - - D (!!!)
  7. YT   Jambalaya (Hank Williams)
  8. YT   Kreuzberger Nächte sind lang (Gebrüder Blattschuss)
    D - - A , A - - D
  9. YT   Lord of the Dance (T+M: Sidney Carter 1963)
    D D A A | D D A D | D D D A | D D A D
  10. YT   Das Lummerlandlied (Augsburger Puppenkiste) D- A--- D-
  11. YT   Mendocino (Sir Douglas Quintet) D - - -, A - - -, - - D -
  12. YT   Roadrunners (The Modern Lovers)
  13. YT   Tulsa Time (Don Williams)


To do:
find more public domain examples


Try singing the songs Jambalaya and Tulsa Time at the same time. Everyone plays the same chords, but everyone sings something different.

Previous page
4/4 strumming patterns
Campfire Diploma Next page
Chord changes from G to D
Chord changes from D to A

  1. It would be more correct to draw a capital "D" in this chord diagram because it is a D major and not a D minor, and major chords are usually written in capital letters and only minor chords in lower case. Problem: This would mean that the fingers would no longer fit into the letter so nicely and the nice mnemonic would be ruined.
    But for the beginning you can live with the small flaw.