Guitar Strumming | Learn how to execute this most basic of guitar methods to become a rock-solid rhythm musician.
It is often thought that strumming a guitar chord is one of the easiest techniques on the guitar. Therefore, many guitarists neglect this method of guitar playing and never master the rhythm guitar.
Having a good command of playing chords is a very important characteristic to have, and you will find this especially true if you plan on accompaniment of a soloist, plan on playing chords along with your own singing or simply wish to accompany a lead guitarist.
Only half of the rhythm chord battle is being able to conquer the chord shapes or forms with the fretting hand.
It is just as important to be able to have a "rock-solid" right hand strumming pattern as is is being able to fret the chord properly with the fretting hand.
If your group or band does not include a drummer, the rhythm guitar often fills in the roll of "carrying the beat". Therefore, any misplayed chords, chord pauses or "off the beat" chords will not be tolerated.
Guitar Strumming - The Methods
We will begin with simple strumming and work our way up to some intermediate rhythm methods by the use of actual song examples to give you some "real world" experience.
We will also take a look at some of the more common chord forms or diagrams that you will need to memorize in order to complete these lessons.
Here are some basic rules to make your guitar strumming a lot easier:
One of the basic of all rules with guitar chords, is to make sure that all of the notes ring loudly and clearly.
Do you have notes that sound dead, mute or muffled? It is likely that you are doing one or more of the following things to cause this to happen:
- One of the most common faults of muting a string is one of the other fretting fingers is touching the string that sound "dead".
- Secondly, you may not be pressing the string down hard enough.
Here are the methods you should employ to make your chords, or more specifically your single notes to sound loud and clear:
Be sure to fret the note just behind the fret that is above the note you are playing. To expand upon this, lets look at an example: IF you want to play a "C" note on the second fret of the second string, place your first finger of your left hand just behind the second fret. About the correct distance behind the fret is 1/4".
Place your fretting finger as close to a 90 degree angle on the string - make it look like a column or post pressing down on the string.
Use only the necessary amount of pressure to sound the notes clearly. This will take some practice, but once you achieve the proper methods described here, you will find that the pressures required will be much reduced. More pressure will result in uneven chord changes and injury to your hand.
Place your fretting hand thumb on the neck as illustrated in the photo above. No not let the palm of your hand contact the neck. This will give you faster chord changes, more air ventilation to your hand and much better finger position.
You will also have to understand the symbols that are used in the chord diagrams or chord forms - please refer to the chord diagrams above:
When you encounter an "X" in a chord form, you shall not play that note. In the diagram above, this is shown above the sixth string.
- Circles with numbers shown on the strings indicate the fretting finger you should utilize. A "1" inside the circle indicates to use the index finger.
- You may also find that certain chord diagrams simply have black dots without fingering inside the dot. Usually these fingers are indicated outside the dot and directly adjacent to it.
When you see 2 to 6 strings connected by an "arc", this indicates what is called a bar chord. You should place one finger (usually the first) over all the notes indicated by the arc.
The "F" Chord above indicates that the first finger is to be barred across all six string at one time.
- Occasionally some chord forms or shapes will show the fretting finger numbers below the chord diagram, directly associated with the respective string.
- Some chord diagrams will indicate the note name that is played on each string and these will be listed at the bottom of the chord diagram.
Also, you will come across chord diagrams that indicate the fret number beside the chord. In the diagrams this is indicated the the Roman Numerals beside and to the right of the chord form. Additionally you will find that some diagrams will indicate the fret number for higher position chords on the left (next to the sixth string) and at the top of the chord diagram. This will indicate the starting fret number that the diagram depicts.
Here is how you can mute certain notes in a Chord Diagram:
You will often see anywhere from one to three "X" symbols in chord diagrams. When you encounter these symbols you will usually find them at the top of the chord diagram (above the nut line). They are not to be played our sounded in any manner.
To mute these strings, you can use one of several methods: To illustrate this, let's take a look at one of the basic chords - the C Major Chord.
On the C Major Chord, at the top of this column, you will note that there is a "X" symbol shown on the 6th string or the "E" String. What this means is that the first five strings are strummed and the sixth string is silent, or not played or strummed.
There are several different ways that you can mute this sixth string.
- In this first method, you can mute the sixth string with the tip of your third finger that is already fretting the C note on the fifth string. This action will mute this sixth string.
- Another way you can utilize to mute or deaden the sixth string is with the thumb of the fretting hand. Simply extend the thumb over the edge of the fretboard and touch the sixth string - Refer to the photo above for the example of this method.
- There is a third method, but this one will take quite a bit of strumming skill and is best left to the more experienced guitarists.
You can master this method upon gaining perfect control of your picking hand. The skill involves skipping the sixth string completely when you are guitar strumming. It is much harder to accomplish that it sounds.
There will be more examples, chords, and lessons to help you to attain great rhythm guitar playing styles in future lessons. Watch for those right here.