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Storm Stenvold >> Reggae and Ska >>
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Lesson Sample

Lesson Jam Track (Key of G)

Teacher: hi guys. Reggae style guitar for the rest of the month.

Teacher: Go ahead and load up the lesson sample and the looping track.

henry: got it

dh: hi, sounds interesting that is why I am here

Teacher: Cool. We will look at a variety of typical reggae grooves with accompaning techniques and riffs over the next few weeks. Starting off tonight with a old school, classic Reggae shuffle/swing groove

Chek Stroke over G-C-D

Teacher: The chord progression is G - C, G - C - D.

Teacher: This progression, a I - IV - V, lies at the heart of many famous Reggae tunes. Bob Marley's 'One Love' and 'Stir It Up' come to mind.

Teacher: The feel tonight is over a 'One Drop' groove. Here the drummer place a rimshot on beat 3 with the guitar handling the typical backbeat position of beats 2 and 4.

G-C-D Chord Progression

Teacher: The pattern is deceptively simple, but their are a few points up front to discuss when trying achieve a good Reggae sound.

Teacher: First is the coordination of the two hands. Of particular importance is the 'choke' in the left hand. The sound of the chords is very staccato, or short, as a rule.

Left Hand choke

Teacher: To get the sound, release the pressure from the fingers without removing them from the strings. Here is a close up video of the left hand.

Frank: Is it typical in Regae to play chords all the way up the neck instead of "in the box"?

Teacher: I will give some other ways to play tonight's progression.

Teacher: Typical you want to stay in the middle of the neck, between frets 5 and 12. And on the top 3 or 4 strings.

Frank: Ah, I see.

gretschroundup: yes, good video - I'm with you...

Teacher: In the right hand, a slight palm mute will be helpful to control any unwanted ringing

Palm Muting

Right Hand

Teacher: cool.

Teacher: lay the outside of the palm lightly where the strings come off the bridge. Experiment with position and pressure so that you may create a very dry sound but still hear the notes of the chord

Teacher: Here are some other voicings of the G major chord that will be useful.

G Triad Voicings

Major Chord Voicings

kozz: yo

Teacher: yo kozz. Welcome, reggae style lesson.

Frank: Which pickup(s) are you using on your Strat, and what guage strings?

Teacher: Placing the notes of the chord in a different order gives you an inversion. These will be useful to move through the progression without having to jump around on the neck.

Teacher: Middle pickup of a typical Strat. Your tone should be fairly dry, almost percussive. We will experiment with efffect later but this will be a good place to start.

Teacher: And different tones, too. Typical clean sound for this lesson.

I-IV-V Voicing Pairs(G-C-D)

Teacher: one second, i have to drop out, don't go anywhere

I-IV-V Voicing Pairs(G-C-D)

Teacher: hey

Teacher: some nice sets of voicings are shown. Keeping your hand with a 4-5 fret range.

Teacher: This basic rhythm stroke we are playing is called the 'chek' stroke. Think of this name when sounding chords on beats 2 and 4.

Teacher: We can add an answering stroke on the upbeat, giving us the 'chek-a' stroke.

Chek-a Stroke

Chek-a Stroke

Teacher: This is almost always a downstroke-upstroke combination. Try with 2 downstrokes. One of the misunderstood parts of Reggae is that because it is played on off-beats that one uses upstrokes. Downstrokes provide a more powerful, support sound.

Teacher: Still, use down-up for the 'chek-a' stroke for the most part.

Teacher: To add a further percussive dimension to your parts we can add rhythm scratches between strokes.

John: Are we live now?

Scratch + Chord Variations

Support: yes, this is live John

Teacher: or is it The Matrix?

Teacher: anyone on their laptop in line for that movie right now?

Rhythm Scratches

John: My WI FI doesn't work that far away from base....nor is my guitar cord that long....LOL

Teacher: Tonights progression is right from the key of G Major. In a major key, their are three main approaches to adding single note leads and supporting parts.

Teacher: Mine either.

Teacher: First you might want to check out notes straight from the chords. Arpeggios.

Frank: the scratch is simple its almost hard! HA HA

G-C-D Arpeggios

Teacher: You might come up with a counter line to the rhythm guitar or the melody. Again, palm muting is often used for these 'stuckey' lines.

Counter-Line (Stuckey Part)

Teacher: Many basslines use arpeggios. It is always good to know the bassline so you can double the bass part. A typical and important sound.


bart: Is 'stuckey' a word you made up?

Teacher: I heard it first used by the other guitarist I learned from in my first Reggae band. We reworked R&B tunes Reggae-style. I have seen it used other places, as well

Teacher: I like it because the sound sounds like the name

Frank: Regae originated in the West Indies, right? I head a Regae band in the Bahamas, complete with a steel drum. They were great.

bart: I thought Jamaica

Teacher: Right. Jamaica, specifically. Reworked American R&B with African and Caribbean/Latin rhythms. I didn't have time to run down a full background but will do so bit by bit.

Teacher: The major scale is important to know to fill around the chords and for its melodic potential.

G Major Scale

Major Scale Line

Teacher: The major scale line uses an "against-the-grain" sound of using straight 8th notes over a shuffle groove. This can work the other way around as well.

Teacher: And the Major Pentatonic scale is a great, smooth sounding choice

G Major Pentatonic

Teacher: Here a couple of useful patterns and a lick

Major Pentatonic - Diagonal Pattern

Major Pentatonic Lick

elrod: that major pent lick with the pull-off, is there audio for that?

Teacher: That's it for tonight's lesson. I hope to see you back here next week. Catch up with me at my website, or on the Riff Interactive message board for any questions

Frank: Storm, what does the "H" mean in the pattern?

Teacher: Hammeron

Teacher: click the speaker icon, then click it again to play back after the audio loads.

John: Thanks Storm. First lesson, but really enjoyed it.

Teacher: got to go. Have a great week. Your welcome.

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