Guitar World’s Acoustic Nation has a new lesson by Justin Horenstein on a simple trick to create more interesting guitar strum patterns. By muting the strings with your left hand during the course of a normal strum pattern, you can create a percussive sound. Justin refers to this technique as a rake, but you make also hear it called muted strumming.
You can practice this by simply alternating between playing a chord and then muting the strings and strumming down again. So for example, play a basic C chord with a down stroke, then relax your left hand to mute the strings and strum down again. You can practice this over and over again until it becomes natural. Then try taking the strum pattern from a song you like and work a muted strum into one of the down strokes. As you get more comfortable, you can start adding more muted strums throughout patterns to create a funky percussive sound. For more on this concept, check out our Creating Strum Patterns lesson package.
Guitar Scales are a way of organizing the notes on the fret board. As a beginner, it’s a good way to practice picking and fretting notes at different places on the neck. As you get more experienced, you will arrange notes from the scale to create melodies, licks, solos, etc. In this video lesson, Peter Vogl will teach you how to play open or first position versions of the Pentatonic, Blues, and Major Scales. Practice these scales until you feel comfortable playing them at a medium tempo.
Once you learn the basics of playing guitar, it’s time to branch out and start learning songs. The quick and easy way of teaching you how to play a guitar part is called tablature or tab. This shorthand was created to let you know which strings, frets, and even fingers you should be using. You may encounter different looking tab on various sites, but the basic principles remain the same. In this video lesson, Peter will teach you the basics of Reading Guitar Tab.
Two of the most essential guitar techniques for a beginner to learn are hammer-ons and pull-offs. The concept is essentially using your left hand fingers to create notes instead of your right hand with a pick or plucking. The resulting sound adds variety and sometimes speed to your playing. In this video lesson, Matthias will walk you through the basics of playing both hammer-ons and pull-offs as well as trills which are a combination of the two techniques. After learning the concepts, Matthias will teach you a couple of guitar licks that use these techniques. If you practice these regularly and use the proper form, hammer-ons and pull-offs should become much easier to play.
As a beginning guitarist starting to learn songs, you’re going to encounter a wide variety of tab styles and chord diagrams. In this video, How to Read Chord Diagrams, Peter Vogl will show you the most common chord chart markings. Instead of just seeing a bunch of x’s, circles with numbers, and other marks on a grid, you’ll actually learn what it’s telling your fingers to do. On some tab sites you may encounter more crude renderings, but this should get you headed in the right direction.