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

As a guitar instructor at Long & McQuade, I have taught countless students (beginners to advanced) how to play or improve their chops.


Pattern One

These rhythms work well at a medium to fast tempo (100-140 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. The x notehead means to mute the chord, while the slash is a held chord. The result is a 'chuck' (for the x) and a full chord sound for the slash. To achieve this, release the pressure on the mute and quickly put the pressure back down for the slash. This may be difficult at first, but will eventually feel natural. This is much easier to do with barre chords, than open chords.


Pattern Two

The next pattern starts with two full chord strums at the beginning of each bar. I find this is easier to execute, as it keeps the bars separate in sound. Once again, hold the pressure for the first beat (1 ah) then release the pressure for the chucks. Don't forget the heartbeat sound of the swing!


Pattern Three

This is the most complex and challenging of the three patterns. The '1 ah' is the full chord followed by a chuck for the 2, full chord for the ah, chuck for the 3, then full chords for the 'ah 4 ah'. Practise slowly at first, then gradually increase the tempo, but don't lose the feel!


Here is a Junior Wells tune to work on. This is transcribed solely with pattern #2. Try this with all the patterns, then mix and match. Try playing with the actual song. This transcription is in the key of the recording, provided you are tuned to standard pitch. Note the turnaround, the V (five) chord comes in halfway through the twelfth bar.

Junior Wells DVD

When My Baby Left Me



Masato on December 26, 2014:

This so good because a) it is a jolly tune b) there are some wonedrful sentiments but most of all I'm so glad to see' you all again! I do hope you will be able to do some more blogging in the New Year!

Lorne Hemmerling (author) from Oshawa on August 20, 2011:

Thanks dzethmayr. Great to get feedback!

dzethmayr from Mauston, near Dells, Wisconsin, US on August 20, 2011:

Real meat for a blues beginner like me. Your teachings use my time well, Lorne. Thank you.

Lorne Hemmerling (author) from Oshawa on July 24, 2011:

Thanks. Words every musician should live by........ 'Music is a celebration, not a competition'

raxit02 from Amsterdam, The Netherlands on July 24, 2011:

wonderful. Its time to revival of the blue rhythm. Lets celebrate.