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Blues Guitar Lessons • Rhythm Guitar Strum Patterns • Part Two • Chords, Tab, Video Lessons

Updated on January 6, 2019
Lorne Hemmerling profile image

As a guitar, electric bass, ukulele instructor at Long & McQuades, I have taught countless musicians how to play or improve their chops.

Buddy Guy DVD's

Buddy Guy Live: The Real Deal with G.E. Smith & The Saturday Night Live Band
Buddy Guy Live: The Real Deal with G.E. Smith & The Saturday Night Live Band
Recorded on location at Buddy Guy's legends in the blues capital of the world, Chi-town. The DVD captures the inexhaustible Buddy Guy leading an all-star band through an electric set of highly-charged bluesics and features the Saturday Night Live Band with G.E. Smith, Lenny Pickett, Johnny Johnson

Pattern 1

These rhythms work well at a slow tempo (50-80 beats per minute: bpm)

The expression mark at the beginning of each of these patterns denotes a swing rhythm. This is a very common way of notating this. Two eighth notes equal a 'broken triplet'. Instead of counting 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and, the rhythm has a triplet sound: 1 and ah 2 and ah 3 and ah 4 and ah. The '1 and' are used up by the quarter note, while the eighth note is the 'ah'. This results in a heartbeat sound. There is a huge difference between straight eighths and swing eighths. Note the accent - staccato marks over the 2nd and 4th beat. This is very important to the sound of the pattern. Most rhythms are accented on these beats, as this is where the snare drum plays. These accents add a very percussive sound, almost as if there is a drummer when playing solo. This slow tempo pattern sounds best with all downstrokes.

Pattern 2

The next pattern starts with a triplet using up the first beat. Strum this down up down. Full triplets are usually played in this manner, not strict alternate picking. Usually the first strum of each triplet is accented to keep the triplets flowing and distinct from one another. In this case though, the accent is reserved for the 2nd and 4th beat as in pattern #1.

Pattern 3

The third pattern adds one more strum to the second pattern. Accents are, once again, on the 2nd and 4th beats. The extra eighth note strum at the end of each bar makes chord changes trickier, because you don't have the luxury of waiting the full beat before the change.

Here is a Buddy Guy tune to work on. This is transcribed solely with pattern #1. Try this with all the patterns, then mix and match. This song contains the 'Quick Change'. Note the turnaround, the IV (four) chord comes in on the 'ah' of the second beat of the eleventh bar and the V (five) chord comes in on the 'ah' of the second beat in the twelfth bar.


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