I'm learning how to play a song on my guitar and there are some chords I haven't encountered yet. I studied the chords and everything one would expect when encountering something they've never seen before, but I still couldn't get it right.

My question is, is there an effective way to memorize/learn unfamiliar chords?

  • Does this answer your question? How do you remember your music and how do I improve in this regard? Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 17:04
  • See also: music.stackexchange.com/questions/49251/… Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 17:04
  • @user1079505 I'm not really sure if it answers my question, so I won't say yes or no for the time being. Those are techniques to memorize, while that answers part of my question, the other part is learning the chords I haven't encountered before. I will, however, use those answers to memorize chords I've already seen but don't know too well. Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 17:08
  • You might get more focused answers if you share more about what kind of learning you're thinking of. Remembering which fingers go where? Remembering what the note names that make up the chord are? If it's the first, I think the word "memorize" might be swaying the answers, because this isn't really about cognitive memory but so-called "muscle memory," and the answer has to do with repeated practice. Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 17:29
  • 1
    FYI, that disclaimer is not really in line with network guidelines ...
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Apr 28, 2023 at 19:40

2 Answers 2


When learning even standard triads, it's helpful to understand why the notes played are what (and where) they are on guitar. That makes finding other voicings much easier, as there are often several different shapes for a given chord. That's to do with the CAGED system.

So, knowing what notes constitute a new chord will help understand why the shape is what it is - and you might even realise there's another shape which has been missed!

Looking at a new chord, it's good to establish common notes between it and its neighbours. Perhaps fingers that don't even have to move, or one finger that needs to move a fret or across a string. All depending, of course, on the voicing decided upon (see above).

It's often possible (as with the simple 3 or 4 note chords like open E, A, B7, etc., to make the shape, and hammer the whole chord on in one go. Finger it all, then lift a mm or two, press down again. Raise that lift until the shape gets embedded in the brain.

A bit of a vague rather than specific answer as the question needs to contain more info., as asked for in my comment.


Try memorizing the movements you make to the chord from the previous one. How does each finger move? Does your wrist position change? ... This will help find patterns, commonalities, or differences that you can use to better learn the unfamiliar chord. This in turn can give you a mental anchor when moving to the new chord.

The anchor might be different for any particular chord or context, and what that anchor is may need to be discovered through practice (as opposed to being decided upon ahead of time). But once found, it serves as a cue — a physical and/or mental trigger — to internalize the unfamiliar.


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