Basic Rhythm Guitar Strumming Lesson

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Here is a basic lesson on strumming. The guitar often provides important backing rhythm and harmony. This lesson is designed to make the most of a simple lesson to place a beat and lay down a chord progression.

Here are three ways to play over the beat:

  • Playing slightly behind the beat(sitting on the back beat)
  • Playing on the beat
  • Playing in front of the beat(pushing the beat)

Most of the songs do not fall exactly on the beat or have a variation of the beat placement. By strumming off-beat, the song takes on a different feeling.

The metronome clicks you will be hearing represents the beats.

Here’s a video demo:

Playing on the beat creates a stable feeling.

Playing on the beat: The pick attack hits the strings as the beat happens.

Playing slightly behind the beat creates a relaxed vibe to the music and makes you want to bop your head to the groove.

Playing slightly behind the beat(sitting on the back beat): The pick attack hits the strings after the beat has passed.

Playing in front of the beat(pushing the beat) gives a energetic feeling to the music.

Playing in front of the beat: The pick attack hits the strings before the beat happens, it is pushing the beat. It drives a song forward and makes it lively.

To get a sense of the strumming rhythm, mute the string and strum away. Notice that down stroke and upstroke does not hit all the strings. Here I have muted the strings to emphasis the rhythm. Once comfortable, work in the chords.

Remember to keep the wrist relaxed and loose while moving the forearm; brush the strings with an arcing wrist motion. A soft pick helps a lot; in these recordings I used a Jim Dunlop USA .80mm Nylon Pick.

The chords used are as follows:

-x- means muted string; to mute the strings, gently touch the string with the fingers of the fretting hand while keeping the finger on the chord shapes.

The following chords are used in the demo. Try to figure the chord progression by ear.

G major chord

Entire chord:
E—3—
B—3—
G—0—
D—0—
A—2—
E—3—

Partial muted(just bass note):
E—x—
B—x—
G—x—
D—x—
A—x—
E—3—

D major chord

Entire chord:

E—2—
B—3—
G—2—
D—0—
A——-
E——-

Partial muted(just bass note):

E—x—
B—x—
G—x—
D—0—
A——
E——-

E minor chord

E—3—
B—x—
G—0—
D—2—
A—3—
E——-

C major chord

Unmuted:

E—3—
B—x—
G—0—
D—2—
A—3—
E——-

Muted:

E—x—
B—x—
G—x—
D—2—
A—3—
E——-

Well done for making it to the end of this article. I certainly hope that you have learned something about rhythm. Off-beat rhythms are all over contemporary music. Next time you hear a song you like, think about the mood of the song and the beat placement.

If you would like to change key, stay tuned for the next article on how to use a capo and why is one needed

A lesson on the CAGED system for learning other chord shapes is also on its way.