Here’s How To Change Chords While Strumming & How To Practice Changing Chords On Guitar..

Yours truly! Will Ripley (Campfire Guitar Star)

Kids MGMT (pt.2)

This is one of the most jam packed lessons yet! We’re now going to go over the right hand and strum patterns.  

We have great sounding chords here that have a lot of similarities between them. We’re going to play “Kids” but most importantly, I’m going to break down for you exactly how pro guitar players switch chords. And specifically, how they do it so effortlessly.

Let’s take a look at the strum pattern. Firstly, this is just showing you which direction to strum. You’re either going to be strumming downwards or upwards. So, down and up arrows…cool!

The numbers on top are the rhythmic breakdown. The “+” symbol we read as “and”. So if you were to read out “1+2+3+4+” that you see in the diagram, you’re going to translate that and say “1 AND 2 AND 3 AND 4 AND”. Try saying that out loud in a consistent rhythm and say it 4 times.

Rock/Pop music is generally in groupings of 4. Think about a drummer that’s clicking his sticks together before a band kicks into a tune – “1, 2, 3, 4!”. Groupings of 4 is what we connect easily with as humans listening to music. It’s what we tap our feet to, bob our heads to and dance to.

So what we’re doing here with this basic strum pattern is strumming all the numbers (1,2,3,4) with down strokes and all the “+” or “ands” with up strokes. Strum all the way through the strings, back and forth (up and down).   

*We’re playing “8th notes” which means there is 2 strums per beat.

Starting with a downstroke and following with an upstroke, play through the progression. Each chord gets a total of 8 strums. Down up, down up, down up etc… Just like in the diagram.

Here are those chords again. Follow them left to right and strum each 8 times.

The Big Secret To Changing Chords

Are you finding there’s a big delay switching chords? Let’s fix that.  

This is probably the biggest thing guitar students find challenging. As far as I know, I’ve never seen switching chords taught in the way I’m about to share with you here… this is one of the secrets that professionals use to sound great.

I’m going to introduce you to a Will Ripley guitar teaching technique called the “upstroke bracket”.

The “1st beat” is the most important beat to strum, so we need to have our chord ready prior to strumming it! We’re only humans, so we need to leave each chord early to hit the next chord in time.

Let’s refer back to the 1+2+3+4(+) diagram. We’ve talked about the downstrokes and upstrokes and sure enough, the last strum is an upstroke with a bracket around it.

Here’s what you do (and I know this is going to sound crazy) – You’re going to lift off the fingers on your left hand and continue strumming during the change.  Yes – that means your going to be strumming some open strings.

We have to find time in the song to get our fingers quickly get to the next chord. By doing this, we can connect with the next chord in time for its first strum so we don’t miss the chord change!

Try it out slow – it might sound a bit weird, but just work on lifting your fingers off and simultaneously strumming the open strings on that last upstroke (the “and” of 4).

These are great chords to practice this technique on because our 3rd and 4th fingers can actually just stay in the same spot.

Let’s Make It Even Easier

You can also just take a Cadd9 and G Maj chord and switch back and forth between these 2 chords. This is an EXCELLENT way to practice this technique because as you probably know by now, these 2 chords are very similar in shape. Plus, they sound great together.

Here’s this technique in action. As you can see, my 3rd and 4th fingers are glued to the fretboard, but I’m lifting off on my 1st and 2nd fingers at the same time as I’m doing the upstroke (the 8th strum).

Thanks for checking out the video and article of How To Change Chords While Strumming & How To Practice Changing Chords On Guitar. 

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Thanks and keep on rippin it! – Will Ripley & Mike B