Pop Strumming

by Joe Kataldo

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  • Hi, Joe Kataldo here, today I'll present you a rhythm guitar study for your right hand in a pop/rock style. The idea is that rhythm acoustic guitar, as in many pop songs, mimic the rhythm with accents and the feel of the drum mixing in one part the three main elements: bass kick, snare and hi-hat, creating an accompaniment that it's really "in the pocket"

    This lesson will improve


    Chord knowledge


    Pop strumming - G major - 85 bpm

    The progression is

    "G - D - C Major 9 - G" <

    Two times


    E Minor 7 - C Major 9 - G/B - E Minor 7 - C Major 9 - Asus7 - Asus7 - G

    The hand has to go down up, constantly strumming sixteenth-notes continuously, playing only the desired attack. The pattern of your right hand repeats the same throughout the study:

    down down up up down down up down up

    I suggest that you check out my lessons on funk if you are having troubles with sixteenth-notes strumming.

    The first one is synced with the drum kick, the second one is synced with the snare, the third, fourth and fifth ones are synced with kick again and the sixth is the snare again falling on the "four" of the beat, followed by three sixteen notes that could be the hi-hat.

    The most important elements to sync with, if you want to create a perfect in the pocket part are the kick and the snare, as usual, try to create some original ideas.

    Recommended listening

    Top chart hits by English band "Oasis" are all good examples of this kind of strumming.

    Technique focus

    On all the tracks the notes "D" and "G" are always on top voice (the only exception is when we play D Major where the F# notes replaces the note "G"). Keeping a common voice between different chords through changes help to create smooth chord progressions with an organic sound.

    Theory focus

    In harmony, degrees 1 - 3 - 5 - 7 are called chord tones, degrees 9, 11, 13 are called tension because they add harmonic tension to the basic chord sound. Tensions give the basic chord a more sophisticate sound as for C Major 9, but you cannot add them freely, sometimes they clash with the basic sound of the chord, but don't worry I'll give you a simple rule that is foolproof.

    The tensions available are the ones that lie a major 2nd from chord tones.


    C - D major second - sound good = C major 9

    E - F minor second - clash = C Major 11

    G - A major second - sound good - C Major 13

    Pro tips

    When strumming clean parts use a thin pick to get a more organic tone.
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