Fingerstyle Guitar Arrangements: Free Guitar Lessons, Beginner Guitar Lessons OnLine

Fingerstyle Guitar Rhythm Arrangements

Fingerstyle Guitar | Rhythm Arrangements - In this free guitar lesson learn about the rhythm track and how to lay it down and use it as the foundation to your arrangement.

Georgia Luthier Supply

  • Fingerstyle Rhythm Arrangements Tips
  • Rhythm Tab

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Fingerstyle Guitar Rhythm Arrangements:

When arranging a fingerstyle guitar piece, the first place to start is with the rhythm chords. After you have determined the key signature of the song, the tempo and timing it is time to get your feet wet with the rhythm chords.

Rhythm chords go hand in hand with the alternating bass of the song. The Alternating Bass borrows from the Rhythm Chords by using the same bass notes and eliminating the chords.

To read additional information about Alternating Bass and rhythm technique visit our pages on Rhythm with Alternating Bass, Rhythm Chet Atkins Style and Rhythm Jerry Reed Style.

Chords: What are the chords played in the song?

If you know the song key you will already know (6) of the major chords to be played or possibly played in the song. For example.

If the song in in the key of C major. We know that the possible chords to be used are C, F, G7 and in the relative key of A Minor they are Am, Dm and E7th. For you first few songs, it is recommended that you stay in guitar-friendly keys.

As a matter of fact, you should arrange most of your songs in guitar-friendly keys, with few exceptions. The guitar-friendly keys consist of keys that are rich with open strings in their scales.

Open strings aid us guitarists to use less left hand fingers, reduce the use of bar chords and use open strings to transition from position to position on the guitar.

Guitar-Friendly Keys:

C Major, G Major, D Major, A Major, E Major, F Major and Bb Major. A Minor, E Minor, B Minor, F# Minor Most of the remaining keys are played with a capo or the song is transposed.

There are occasions were we will play in keys other that those listed above, but it is infrequent.

Let's Get Started:

If you wish, you can most likely find the chords for your song online. Most often, by comparing several alternatives, you will find one or a combination of sources that will get you very close on your rhythm chord selections.

Try to find a score that has as few sharps and flats as possible. For instance lets try this with the old-time folk song Freight Train by Elizabeth Cotton. Do a search for the Freight Train Chords in your browser: You will likely find the link below which is a simple version of Freight Train.

If the tab or notation is on a guitar-related site, it is likely that it is written in a guitar-friendly key. Compile the raw information from this tab to look something like the chord listing below:

Each vertical tick mark is one beat. When you see 4 of them it is one entire measure. So we have 2 measures of C, 1 measure of G and so on....

C Major - ||||-||||
G Major - ||||
G7th- ||||-||||
C Major - ||||-||||
E Major - ||||-||
E7th - ||
F Major - ||||-||||
C Major - ||||
G Major - ||||
C Major - ||
G Major - ||

All Things On The Internet Are Not Reliable

There is a heads-up warning for you too. As with all information on the internet, a lot of it is not completely accurate and you will receive some bad or incorrect information that will totally mess you up.

If you know the song and these chords do not sound right or are in the wrong place or you suspect something else is going on, get a couple of other arrangements and compare them.

Then pick out the one you like best and works for you to your arrangement.

Chord Substitution - Not a Bad Thing

Another thing we will often do with chords is play around with chord substitutions in an arrangement.

In this song we have substituted one or more chords to make the arrangement sound more interesting, unique and it puts your own "twist" on the song to make it uniquely yours.

Place the Chords in A Software Rhythm Track

Now lets place the rhythm section in a Guitar Pro Rhythm Track or if you have another software program you use, place it within that program.

You can download a free trial of Guitar Pro and use it to complete this lesson if you like.

Set the Key Signature to C Major (no sharps or flats) Set the timing to 4/4 or standard or common time Tempo - Don't worry about this at this time.

Set Up Your Tracks

Name the song in the score information and set up 5 tracks for this song. We will be using each track for a different part of this lesson series. We will set the rhythm tracks up for alternating bass for each chord.

So each measure will get a pick, a strum, a pick and a strum - four beats. Let's go ahead and lay in the rhythm track completely. To see what it looks like when finished, click the tab at the top of this article called Rhythm Tab.

Music Editing Software Saves Lots of Time

Placing the chords in a software program does a couple of things for us. It allows us to tweak the chords to suit our arrangement. Yes, we can play with the chords - we can substitute, we can add fill-in chords and lots of other good things.

We also could add bass run transitions - that we will leave for a future lesson. Let's just stay with the basics here.

Also it is easy to change or transpose the key. We can also setup practice sessions to start very slowly and gradually gain speed and agility.

For more lessons in this series, just select a lesson from the pull-down menu and select the GO button.

If you would like all of the PDF files, plus our "Guitar Notes" electronic teaching and the actual Guitar Pro file, you can purchase it for $2.49.

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Freight Train Rhythm