Strumming and other Techniques - Guitar Lesson 7
Written by Philip du Toit   
Thursday, 26 November 2009 14:47


The next step is to discuss some strumming techniques.


1. Most important is that you don’t strum the stings marked with an X.  Try to start strumming from the bass strings, especially if you do not have the accompaniment of a bass guitar.


2. Keep within the song’s rhythm.  Try different strumming techniques.  Accentuate different beats or off-beats within the main rhythm structure.


3.  Work out a strumming technique that is comfortable for you.


4.  Try strumming both with your bare hands and with a plectrum.




Picking techniques involve picking individual strings with your right hand (of you are right handed).



(if your thumb is no 1 and your little finger is no 5)

1   2 3 4
1   4 2 3
1   234 (234 simultaneously)
13 (simultaneously), followed by 2  4.


(just some examples)


Pieces of melody can be added to chords and played together with the picking, or sus4, 7th’s or moving lines can be accentuated.




Other techniques:


Some of the other techniques include the following:


1. String Bending.  This is where a string is bended towards the next semitone.

2. Hammer On.  This is where a sound is produced by hammering one or more fingers with your left hand (if you are right handed) to form a new note or chord.


3. Pull Off.  This is whrere one or more fingers are pulled off a string quickly, to form a new note or chord.





Let’s revisit "Oh when the saints":


Open OwhenSimple.pdf in a new window (click).

You will see that the chords are on top of the melody.  Each measure / bar is indicated by a dividing line.  The 4/4 means there are four counts in a measure and each count is indicated by a quarter note (crotchet). 



Notice that:


is the same as:




It is an Am7 on a G bass.  The same applies for the other chords.  This is just an easier way to write the chords on a computer.  You can either just play the cord on top, or see if you can combine the chords with the bass notes underneath the line.  (Tip: use moveable shapes. e.g. E-Type, C Type, A-Type Chords for alternative positions of the same chord at another spot on the neck.  This might help you to build some chords on different bass notes.  This will be quite an accomplishment).



1. Start by playing the chords on the right count – as in Lesson 4.  Keep Lesson 3 handy if necessary (for the chords).


2. Now see if you can read and play the melody on its own, using scale theory.  Note that some notes are extended within the next measure and connected with a curved line.  That means that the note is not played again, but sustained for the total value (counts) of all the notes connected.


3. Try to combine the chords and the melody now.  This will probably be the biggest step yet!  It will take some time.  Do yourself a favor and see how well you can execute this! 



How to do it:

The way you do it is to make sure the melody line is played with the top of your right hand, and the rest of the chord is built underneath that.  The biggest change will be the fact that you will start to play chords on different places on the neck.  In other words, the bottom note will not always be the root note in your left hand.  Try using the fingering principles of the previous lesson in order to play the melody and chords in the most comfortable and sensible way, even if you just play some melody here and there.  You will notice that many chords sound better on different places on the guitar neck.  In other words, it would result in different inversions.  Experiment with these inversions.


Let’s go through a few chords and the melody line:


Am7/G.  You will play G in the bass, and A  C  E on top of that.  Fingering: 302010.  If you want to add melody, the melody note is G (000003).  When you play the melody line in combination with a chord, you might drop some of the notes of a chord in order to get to the melody.


If you accompany a vocalist or another instrument that plays the melody, you do not need to play the melody together with the chords. 


If you play the melody along with your song, the melody line on top will dictate which inversion to build underneath the melody.  If you don’t play the melody along with your song, then experiment which inversion sounds best.   Train your ear.  Often it is best to keep the music in lines without jumping too much all over the fret board.  If you play the melody on top, this will happen automatically, but if you don’t play the melody, try to avoid jumping all over the guitar when you change chords.  Music normally progresses in lines.  You will notice that good music will also have a prominent bass-line.  More about this in Lesson 9.



Try to work out and play the whole of “Oh when the saints” as is on the OwhenSimple.pdf file.  Also train your ear to work out and play any melody by ear.   If you can master that, you can work out any song from merely seeing the chords. 




Lets revisit Amazing Grace.  Try to work out and play the melody together with these chords (the melody starts with D  G):


In the key of G


| G  -  -  D7  | G -  -     -     | G7/B  -  -     -    | C  -  -  -    | G  -  D/ F#
             A-    ma-     zing   grace! how         sweet the  sound,


  -       |  Em7  -  -  -  | A/C#  -  -   -     | D7sus4  -  -
that       saved      a  wretch like        me!


D9  |  G  -  -   -      | G7/B  -  -  -   | C  -  Edim  -    |  G  -  D/ F#
I        once was     lost but          now          am   found,


-        | Em7  -  -   -    | Am7  -  Am7/D  -    | G  -  -  - |
was  blind      but     now                   I       see.




Also play the same song (chords and melody) in the key of F


| F  -  -  C7  | F -  -     -       | F7/A  -  -     -     | Bb  -  -  -    | F  -  C/E
             A-    ma-     zing   grace! how         sweet the  sound,


  -        |  Dm7  -  -  -  | G/B  -  -   -      | C7sus4  -  -
that       saved      a  wretch like       me!


C9  |  F  -  -   -       | F7/A  -  -  -   | Bb  -  Ddim  -    |  F  -  C/ E
I        once was     lost but         now          am    found,


-        | Dm7  -  -   -   | Gm7  -  Gm7/C  -   | F  -  -  - |
was  blind      but     now                   I       see.



Doing this lesson well will probably be the biggest challenge, but at the same time the most rewarding.  Try to master both songs as best as you can.  Also try different strumming and picking techniques.  This might take time.  But keep pressing on!  And remember to ENJOY it! 

If you have come this far and if you have mastered everything in all the lessons up to now, you have come quite a way!  Congratulations!



The next step will be to work out your own harmonies.  More about that in Lesson 9.  But before we get there, we will work on expanding chords.



  Advance to:


  Lesson 8 - Understanding and Expanding Chords



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