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Old 03-19-2013, 03:15 AM   #1
dragnet99
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How EXACTLY do you strum triads?

Sorry for the all-caps in the title, but I can't believe how hard it's been to get a straight answer on this.

I've read countless articles and watched countless videos on triads. I know the positions and inversions, I know how they're used and when they're useful. But the one thing that no one seems to ever explain is how exactly one strums the three specific strings without hitting the rest.

I can only imagine either selectively strumming the three strings (which seems error-prone, especially when playing in a performance setting), or somehow muting around the three strings, which seems like it'd require a very complex set of techniques. In fact, I'd imagine each string group would have its own muting strategy, and possibly each shape within each string group.

People mention triads all the time and I'd love to start using them, but it doesn't seem like anyone can tell me a straight forward, reliable way to just play the three strings in a given string group.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 03-19-2013, 03:35 AM   #2
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You should have the accuracy to only hit 3 strings if that's what you want... I like to mute anyway just to be extra safe.

If you are playing adjacent strings you only need to mute one string above. I usually do this with the tip of my ring finger.

If they are on non adjacent string there will have to be some muting involved.
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Old 03-19-2013, 03:41 AM   #3
dragnet99
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Quote:
You should have the accuracy to only hit 3 strings if that's what you want...


Interesting. I've been playing on and off for a couple years now and have actually never heard anyone say that. Do you have any references on where I could learn a bit more about how exactly to develop that technique? Being able to reliably hit just three strings honestly seems extremely difficult to me, so I clearly have some studying to do. But if there are any good articles/videos that explore this more depth and give some practice suggestions, that'd be great.

Thanks!
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Old 03-19-2013, 03:57 AM   #4
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I agree, you should be able to hit just three. I usually still mute adjacent strings, especially with faster strumming
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Old 03-19-2013, 05:44 AM   #5
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Play slowly, then try faster, like everything else in guitar.

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Old 03-19-2013, 05:49 AM   #6
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You just hit three strings... it's not rocket science.
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Old 03-19-2013, 06:02 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dragnet99
Interesting. I've been playing on and off for a couple years now and have actually never heard anyone say that. Do you have any references on where I could learn a bit more about how exactly to develop that technique? Being able to reliably hit just three strings honestly seems extremely difficult to me, so I clearly have some studying to do. But if there are any good articles/videos that explore this more depth and give some practice suggestions, that'd be great.

Thanks!


I'm talking from personal experience.
It's not really a technique in itself it just comes from a more accurate picking hand.

It won't happen overnight, it will happen as you develop as a player.
If you can't hit just three you can try to mute...If you're playing 6th,5th and 4th strings mute with the tip of one of the available fingers, if I'm playing the 5th,4th and 3rd I also mute the top string by playing the hendrix grip and leaving out the bass note.


The hendrix grip is something like this, if you are not familiar:

Gmajor
x
3-pointer
4-middle
5-ring
x
3-thumb
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Old 03-19-2013, 06:22 AM   #8
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I mute the rest with the whatever free finger i have on my left hand left from the triad shape.
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Old 03-19-2013, 06:26 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dragnet99
Interesting. I've been playing on and off for a couple years now and have actually never heard anyone say that. Do you have any references on where I could learn a bit more about how exactly to develop that technique? Being able to reliably hit just three strings honestly seems extremely difficult to me, so I clearly have some studying to do. But if there are any good articles/videos that explore this more depth and give some practice suggestions, that'd be great.

Thanks!

Being able to hit the strings you want to hit and not hitting the ones you don't is a pretty basic, fundamental element in learning to play the guitar.
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Old 03-19-2013, 06:53 AM   #10
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Try using hybrid picking, that way you can single out specific strings that you want to play. Also, you could try arranging your triads on the top 3 strings only, and strumming them whilst avoiding the other strings with your pick. Depends on the style and context!
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Old 03-19-2013, 01:10 PM   #11
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Sounds like the consensus is about selectively strumming, with muting being a backup approach at best, if at all.

One more addition to my original question with this in mind; if the trick is to simply hit the right strings to begin with (say, strings 4, 3, 2) does that go for traditional strumming patterns as well? In other words, is it a common skill among players to being able to strum down those strings, then strum back up, the same way one would strum all six for say, an E-major open chord? I somehow missed this technique from being mostly self-taught so this is pretty new to me.

Thanks!

Last edited by dragnet99 : 03-19-2013 at 01:11 PM.
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Old 03-19-2013, 02:44 PM   #12
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You need to mute, too, to eliminate sympathetic vibration and the inevitable striking of an adjacent string.

And yes, you should be able to apply your technique to anything you play.
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Old 03-19-2013, 04:26 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dragnet99
Sounds like the consensus is about selectively strumming, with muting being a backup approach at best, if at all.

One more addition to my original question with this in mind; if the trick is to simply hit the right strings to begin with (say, strings 4, 3, 2) does that go for traditional strumming patterns as well? In other words, is it a common skill among players to being able to strum down those strings, then strum back up, the same way one would strum all six for say, an E-major open chord? I somehow missed this technique from being mostly self-taught so this is pretty new to me.

Thanks!


Basically, yes. You should be able to maintain the strumming pattern you want no matter what strings you're strumming.

Learn some Van Halen rhythm parts, he did tons of stuff with just 2 or 3 notes and mostly simple chord shapes. Should let you focus on the strumming. Running with the Devil, Somebody Get Me a Doctor, and You Really Got Me are all good example in my opinion.
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Old 03-19-2013, 05:01 PM   #14
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In my experience (and apparently everyone else here differs) -

Muting is far, far more important than accurate strumming.

Usually good string muting gives you an extra string in terms of margin of error (you can hit the strings either side of the triad and still get them clear).

Can you post some example of the ones you struggle with?

Obviously you should be accurate too, but imho that's less important than making sure you can't hear mistakes whether you are or not.
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Old 03-19-2013, 08:01 PM   #15
dragnet99
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There aren't any specific triads I'm having trouble with. I'm still really just having trouble adjusting to the way this kind of strumming works. For nearly two years now I've been strumming open chords and barre chords, all six strings at a time, and occasionally muting the low-E for certain exceptions (C major, 5th-string root barres, etc.) So I can strum slowly, quickly, or whatever, and it always "just works".

But the idea of precisely hitting the first string in a group of say, three, strumming down to the last string in the group, and somehow wrapping that into the traditional strumming motion itself, then reversing it for the upstroke, all without touching the wrong strings, etc. etc. It's just WAY more difficult than anything else I've learned on guitar.

Plus, it seems like a tricky thing to gauge in terms of progress. It seems way too easy to accidentally strum 2 or 4 strings, let's say, and not even realize I did it. And my goal is to do everything I can do standing up, presumably not staring down at my guitar, so that just seems like a hard thing to ever feel secure about, since it'd be so easy to make the mistake unknowingly.

Anyway, I'm rambling because for the first time in two years of steady-ish progress, I find myself really struggling. Plus it seems like this is coming way more naturally to other players, so I'm finding very little specific documentation on how best to develop this skill.

(Thanks very much for all the help so far, though!)

Last edited by dragnet99 : 03-19-2013 at 08:03 PM.
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Old 03-20-2013, 03:46 AM   #16
Kevin Saale
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If you're trying to stop your picking motion that may be the issue. My picking motion that stays the same I just don't hit all the strings.
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Old 03-20-2013, 05:54 AM   #17
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Plus, it seems like a tricky thing to gauge in terms of progress. It seems way too easy to accidentally strum 2 or 4 strings, let's say, and not even realize I did it. And my goal is to do everything I can do standing up, presumably not staring down at my guitar, so that just seems like a hard thing to ever feel secure about, since it'd be so easy to make the mistake unknowingly.


Absolutely, that's why muting is really important. (more important imho, because muting works whether you strike the right strings or not.)
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Old 03-20-2013, 07:33 AM   #18
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Old 03-20-2013, 03:41 PM   #19
dragnet99
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Whoa, thanks so much! I really appreciate the help!
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Old 03-20-2013, 03:46 PM   #20
dragnet99
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Seriously man, this was EXACTLY the video I was looking for all this time. Thanks again, I not only hugely appreciate it myself, but I have no doubt this will answer a lot of other people's questions.
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