Beginner Lesson. Part VI: The Basics

This is part VI and the conclusion in my series Beginner Lesson, The Basics. I would like to talk about more rhythm and strumming. Once again, please keep in mind, this is the very beginning. There will be no theory, no fretboard work, or ridiculous fingering going on. If you have mastered the first five lessons of this series, then it should go smoothly. Look for my next series coming out very soon. Enjoy!

Ultimate Guitar
Hello everyone! I would like to thank everyone who has contacted me about this series. Your questions and comments have been awesome and I look forward to writing the follow up in my new series which will be coming out very soon. In this lesson we are going to: I) Review II) Talk about more rhythm III) Strumming IV) Grace notes I) Review Tell me, what have you learned in this series? You should be able to name your strings, understand how to use the metronome, basic strumming techniques and to sit up straight =-) You should also know eight open chords: - A major - A Minor - C Major - D Major - D minor - E Major - E Minor - G major Before we begin, turn your metronome on and go through each chord. If you make a mistake, start over. Why haven't I mentioned the barre chords????? Well, I totally understand that those kind of chords are more difficult than the others. I would never say, You have two weeks to master the barre chords or else!. That is unrealistic on my part. Please keep practicing them. I will talk about those in my next series. II) Rhythm Have you ever watched the show, So you think you can dance? I have to say that has to be the most ridiculous show on television! Well, I think all reality show are silly and pointless. Never the less, my lovely bride had it on one night and I could not believe the people that thought they had rhythm. Now, I admit I can not dance to save my life, but I can wiggle my body in time, clap my hands or bang my head. The point is, you do not need to know how to dance to have rhythm. Which brings me to my first exercise. Now I have mentioned this before but now let's apply it to your guitar. If you have not read my strumming section in Part V please do so before continuing. i) Exercise one Place your hand over the strings so that you are dampening them. They should not ring out for this exercise. I want you to concentrate on your strumming hand. Now with your strumming hand, strum out a beat; almost like a shuffle. Remember when I had you tap on any surface? Same concept but with your pick striking your strings. Tips: - Use dynamics. Think of a drum beat. Imagine the different drums and how they are hit. - Relax!!! Don't tense up; just let it flow. Before moving into some cool stuff, take the first exercise and add a chord. Use a chord that uses all the strings; G or E. II) Strumming and grace notes Now when strumming sometimes you are not strumming the entire chord. That is another form of dynamic. You might strum the bass notes or the high notes. Think of the song Mother by Pink Floyd. Notice how he strums the chords. The beginning of the song is G, C and D. The song starts off with just vocals, Mother do you think they'll drop the bomb. On Bomb, he hits the C chord. Listen to how it is strummed. Then moves to G. Hear the bass notes? Hear the treble notes? Try to mimic the strumming. How do you switch chords so that they sound smooth and seamless? Well my friends, that is where grace notes come in! What is a grace note you ask? Great question! For the purpose of this lesson and a super simple explanation: A grace note is a note that guides you to the next chord or phrase. Now this is by no means the technical definition. At this moment I will not go into that. We have enough to do without me clouding your mind with mumbo jumbo. Feel free to look it up if you like=-) Mumbo Jumbo is an English phrase or expression that denotes a confusing or meaningless subject Typically, when playing acoustic guitar, a grace note is usually some open strings. Using the Pink Floyd song again, listen to how they are switching between C and G. When you are switching from one chord to another, you are taking your chord hand off the guitar to move and create another chord. However, your strumming hand is still moving. So what should you play if you are not forming a chord? On the up stroke, just hit the open strings; E and B. Some instances you will hit the G string. All three is fine! ii) Exercise two Strum the C chord with a down stroke, move hand off fretboard, strum the E and B strings up, then form and play G. Repeat. In a nutshell, that is all there is to it! Make sense??? Questions? You can apply this technique to just about any song. Queen - A crazy little thing called love. D, G, C, Bb Concrete Blond - Joey. G, Em, C, D Kid Rock - Picture. G, C, D, Em The Cranberries - Linger. D, A, C, G III) Conclusion I hope everyone enjoyed this series. I had a great time writing it and answering all your questions! Just remember to take your time and be patient. Guitar is fun and great way to express oneself. As always, feel free to email, comment, or friend me. Peace everyone! -ancientson

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I gotta try this tonight, it makes sense and I was wondering what folks typically did between chords. Wasn't sure if they were just faster than me or playing something in between.
    i really enjoyed the beginner lessons on here. they really tought me alot about playing guitar. cant wait for the next set to come out