Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How To Play Reggae Guitar

...while you do that, tap your foot on every number. Strum with a slight snap of the wrist upwards when you say "and".

Try that right now with a basic A major chord in open position. Great! To get an even more authentic reggae guitar feel you can dampen the strings after strumming. This just means to stop them from ringing. You can do this with the edge of the palm of your strumming hand. You can also release pressure from the strings with your fretting hand...keep touching the strings, though. Try it!

3 Primary Chords?

Yes. At some point in your guitar playing journey you'll need to dig into some guitar music theory. For this lesson on , we'll cover some basic theory.

The major scale in music is simply the sound of "do re mi fa sol la ti do". If you're not familiar with that sound now, you'll definitely recognize it in the guitar lesson video. A chord is simply a three note "triad" built on every other note in the scale. So if we're in the key of "C" , the note "C" is "do". The "C" major chord is spelled "do" - "mi" - "sol".

You can't make music with only one chord (well, you can...but that's beyond the scope of this lesson ) so we'll also build chords on the 4th and 5th notes of the scale. These 3 chords are the primary chords in the key. They give the form and shape to the key. Intrigued? If you need to know more go to the Theory section now. Bookmark this page so you can come back and learn :-)

Guitar friendly...OK. Let's play in the guitar friendly key of A. Why is it guitar friendly? Because it is built on "A" which is an open string. Also, 4 notes up from "A" is "D" and 5 notes up is "E". They are all open strings and basic guitar chords. That's why it's a guitar friendly key. Remember, the primary chords in any given key are built on I , IV and V. Hey! What's that? I just used Roman numerals for 1, 4 and 5. That's because we use Roman numerals in music when we give a number to a chord. This is how we know where we are in any given key.

A lot of reggae songs are based around the 3 primary chords in the key. That's part of what makes them so strong and so memorable. Now, we're going to use the A, D and E basic guitar chords.


Try the syncopated strumming pattern for reggae guitar that we discussed above. Only this time use A, D and E. Play "A" for 2 bars of 4 beats each. Play your "D" and "E" chords for 1 bar each.

Remember to dampen the strings after each up-strum :-) Yes, mon!

Note:This is all in the guitar lesson video above. As always, the video is clear to follow, but these written guidelines will help you to learn the ideas even better :-)

Let's Kick It Up A Notch

This exercise adds a basic variation to the above reggae guitar strumming pattern. This time each beat is divided into 4 smaller beats - these are called 16th notes. We count 1e

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