Learning your chords, basic strum patterns and scales are all essential for beginner guitarists. These are the building blocks for successfully becoming a well-rounded musician. However, many new guitarists overlook some key technical aspects that are crucial for making your instrument sound great. Here are 5 tips:

1. Curl your fingers, pressing down with your finger tips. To many, this comes naturally, but to others, mastering this technique requires practice. If your fingers aren’t curled, you will likely unintentionally mute strings that should be sounding, making your chords sound empty and lacking resonance.

2. Form your chords towards the edge of each fret. We’re often using so much brain power just forming chords, that we forget this crucial piece of technique. If you are, for example, playing a C major chord in root position, make sure that your 3rd finger is right up against the fret wire separating the 3rd and 4th fret, your 2nd finger is doing the same against the fret wire separating the 2nd and 3rd fret, and your first finger is following suit on the first fret.

3. Strum the correct strings! Memorizing where to place your fingers (curled, of course) won’t do you a whole lot of good if you don’t also memorize which strings should be strummed for each chord. For example, to correctly play a D major chord, you should only be strumming the D-G-B-e strings (and not the E and A strings).

4. Strum over the sound hole on an acoustic guitar, or halfway between the bridge and the fretboard on an electric. You’ll probably figure this one out on your own, but if your strumming sounds extra metallic, or exceedingly dull, you might want to check where your pick is coming in contact with the guitar strings. Generally, you want to strum over the sound hole or halfway in between the bridge and the fretboard.

5. Don’t strum too loudly! When working on strumming, the beginning guitarist should consciously focus on keeping things smooth with the strumming hand. If you are holding your pick too tightly or are not relaxed, you will likely strike the strings too harshly. Loosen your grip and strum more softly. It is perfectly fine to drop your pick sometimes!