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Lyle Ronglien >> Beginning Guitar I - The Very Beginning >>



Beginning Guitar I - Lesson 3

Strumming and Picking 1-Finger Chords

Lyle: In Lesson 1 you learned about tuning your guitar and strings. Lesson 2 you learned how to read TAB. In this lesson you'll learn the basics of strumming and picking a chord to a beat! Let's get started by checking your tuning. Playback this TAB file and make sure your guitar is in tune with me:

check your tuning

Lyle: Next you're going to learn a simple one-finger chord. It's called the G chord and only uses 3 strings and one finger. Use your 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the 1st string:

G chord

G chord

G chord


Lyle: Notice my finger placement, it's right behind the 3rd fret wire.

Lyle: Now try playing this chord. Strike the three strings at the same time by swiftly strumming them in a downward stroke. Here's a video example. Watch this and strum just like I am:

basic strum pattern

Lyle: There are many ways to play a G chord, and I hope you'll learn all of them later, but this is the first chord I remember learning.

Lyle: The next chord I learned was the G major7, or GM7. It uses the 2nd finger on the 2nd fret of the same 1st string:

GM7 chord

GM7 chord

GM7 chord


Lyle: There are many types of chords and they can have strange sounding names to them. You'll learn the music theory behind everything at a later time. I think you should just learn to play now, memorize the names of what you're playing, then learn the theory part at a later time.

Lyle: Another G type of chord is the G7 chord. It has a blues sound to it:

G7 chord

G7 chord

G7 chord


Lyle: Notice your 1st finger is used on the 1st fret, and it's tucked right behind the first fret.

Lyle: Now you've learned 3 basic one finger chords. They all use just 3 strings. Make sure you're using the correct fingers for each chord. This way you'll look just like a pro playing!

Lyle: The G chord uses the 3rd/ring finger, the GM7 uses the 2nd/middle finger, and the G7 uses the 1st/index finger. This is very important.

francric: What is the significance of M7 and 7?

Lyle: Those are the names of different sounding chords. Chords will have many different names to them. I'll cover music theory in later lessons.

Lyle: Now you'll take those three chords and learn to play them with a band! Look at this chord chart, it will display the chord progression you will learn next.

chord chart


Lyle: Notice there are 4 groups of 4 beats, and a chord name at the beginning of each group. These groups of beats are divided into measures. There are 4 measures in the chord chart.

Lyle: If you strum once, on beat 1, and switch to the next chord according to the chord chart, you'll get this:

rhythm riff 1

rhythm riff 1

Lyle: Be sure to listen to the TAB so you can hear my guitar playing with the band, or watch the video clip.

Lyle: Try it with the band! Here's a looping jam track of the drums and bass guitar holding down the beat for you:

Jam Track in G

francric: That jam track really makes a difference!!!!!

Lyle: Yes, and it's important to try to play right along with it to help your timing. Learn to listen to both you and the jam track at the same time. Keep counting to 4. Each beat is a count, so go: 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4..... Start by strumming the G chord on beat 1, then count all the way to 4, then switch to the GM7 chord on the next beat 1 and keep counting.....

Support: You can also slow down the jam track without changing the pitch, using the "tempo" button.

Lyle: Try to copy what I'm doing in the video and you'll be playing exactly what I'm showing you here!

Lyle: Rhythm riff 1 has you strumming once, on beat 1 of each measure, then you switch chords for the next measure and so on...

Lyle: The next rhythm riff is double that of rhythm riff 1. You'll strum down on beats 1 and 3, so twice for each chord:

rhythm riff 2

rhythm riff 2

Support: That works with both the tab notation and the jam tracks, slowing the tempo down.

Lyle: The little v marks at the top of each tabbed out chord is a reminder to strum down. If you strum down for each beat, it would look and sound like this:

rhythm riff 3

rhythm riff 3

Lyle: So you see you've been adding strums in each measure, making it sound like you're playing faster, but the tempo of the jam has stayed the same.

Lyle: Try to play right along with the jam track to help your timing. Learn to listen to both you and the jam track at the same time.

Joel: Speaking as a drummer, it helps to also keep count in your head.. it's a little hard at first but it helps keep the beat. :)

Lyle: That's right Joel, always try to keep counting to 4. Tap your foot to each of the 4 beats while you count!

Lyle: Next is the tricky rhythm pattern because it uses up strokes. It will also sound like you're playing a faster song but it's still at the same speed, only you are going faster. Try this:

rhythm riff 4

rhythm riff 4

Lyle: Gently brush the strings with your pick, and slightly change the angle as you gown down and up. Here's a video of this technique:

strumming hand close-up

Lyle: Now try picking each note of the chord like this:

picking pattern 1

picking pattern 1

Lyle: Notice you're simply playing during the first three beats of the measure. Now try this variation where you fill in that fourth beat of the measure by coming back to the second string:

picking pattern 2

picking pattern 2

Lyle: Next is a "double time" variation of the last picking pattern. Make sure you're moving your pick in the right direction:

picking pattern 3

picking pattern 3

Lyle: When you are picking notes and not strumming, it's sometimes easier to anchor your picking wrist down to the guitar to help with your picking accuracy. Bridge your picking hand to the guitar by placing your 3rd and or 4th fingers down like this:

picking hand position


Lyle: Here's a video that might help you see this clearer:

picking hand close-up

Lyle: Sorry to keep you all late after class, let's take a break. Any quick questions before I have to go?

Steve-o: What kind of pick is it that you use?

Lyle: I use a green Dunlop Tortex .88 pick. It's almost a heavy gauge pick with a very slight give to it. I suggest using a medium or heavy pick for a beginner. The light gauge picks are too thin and thus produce a thin tone.

Lyle: Let me know if you have any questions or you would like extra help with your guitar studies. Email me at Lyle@theguitar.net for more info on how you can get your own custom beginner lessons. I can even teach you your favorite songs and you can download the lesson to your hard drive so you don't have to be online to work on them. Thanks, Lyle.

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