Welcome to the eleventh video of the Rhythm Guitar Quick-Start Series! In this lesson, I’ll give you a couple of tips for dressing up your strumming pattern. Playing the basic strumming patterns we learned in lesson nine, Essential Strumming Patterns, is great but they can get a little mundane at times.
One thing you can do to change things up is hit just a single bass note. A general guideline to get started with this is to hit the lowest root note of whatever chord you’re making. Instead of strumming the whole G chord for the first down of the down down up strumming pattern, you could hit just the low G note on the third fret of the sixth string, and then finish the strumming pattern normally.
It can be difficult at first to get your accuracy good enough to hit just a single bass note. Try looking at the sixth string in this case and practice hitting it accurately and consistently. Once you have that done, you can throw in the rest of your strumming pattern.
You can try this tip with all of your chords. For example, instead of strumming the whole open C chord, you can strum the lowest bass C note which is the third fret of the A string. All you need to remember is that your lowest root note should be your bass note. After you’re comfortable with hitting just the bass note, you can throw more notes in with it as well.
This same idea can apply when you’re playing bar chords too. If you were playing an A bar chord, you would just get used to hitting the lowest root note of the chord. Go through all the chords you’ve learned in the Rhythm Guitar Quick-Start Series and apply this idea to them. It may take time to develop this and get your picking accuracy down, but that’s okay. Check out the video to see how a 1 4 5 progression would sound using this technique along with the jam track.
The next technique we’ll go over to add more life into your strumming is muted strums. It’s easier for me to show you what it is first rather than explain it, so take a look at the video to see muted strums.
Essentially a muted strum means that I am actually muting the strings with the fleshy part of my strumming hand as I come down on a particular strum. Using my hand to mute the strings right as I strum through the strings gives a very percussive sound. The idea behind this technique is to make the same sound as a snare drum.
If you’re playing in 4/4 time throwing in a muted strum on beats two and four can give you a great percussive sound. It almost makes it sound like a drummer is playing with you. In the video, I play an example with the down down up strum, using a muted strum on beats two and four. Your muted strum doesn’t always have to be on beats two and four, but it can be whatever beats you like as long as it fits the music you’re playing.
Once you get this muted strum technique down, you can combine it with the single bass note technique. Let’s take our down down up pattern and apply both techniques. You can hit a single bass note for your one, a muted strum for your two, and then upstroke will be a full upstroke.
This is one idea you can use, but you don’t have to use it every single time you play. You can use this pattern on beats one and two, and then use your regular strumming pattern on beats three and four to create a new strumming pattern.
Pull up the drums only jam track for this lesson and work on getting these two techniques down. If you have to stick with the same chord throughout the whole thing, that’s totally okay. Once you’re comfortable with these two techniques, then you can throw in some chord changes too. Take a look at my example playing with the jam track in the video.
Thanks for watching this lesson. In the next lesson, we’ll look at what you need to do next on your rhythm guitar journey. See you in the last lesson: Next Steps For Rhythm Guitar.