If you own an acoustic guitar and play it regularly, there’s a chance you have tried to write your own songs, or learn covers of others’. And, perhaps, you’ve come to a place where the parts you are playing sound unimaginative and trite. It happens to all of us.
In her course, Acoustic Rhythm Guitar Cookbook, Vicki Genfan gives you the tools and embellishments to fire up your acoustic guitar parts.
Here are 10 free acoustic guitar lessons from the course. For the full course, check out Vicki Genfan’s Acoustic Rhythm Guitar Cookbook on TrueFire!
ii V I IV Progression
Listen to what this progression might sound like with the “basic” chord shapes and a very basic strum. In the first study, we’ll add color tones and a new strumming pattern, and in the second study we’ll add a bit more syncopation to the strumming pattern.
Add Color Tones: Performance
Can you tell which beat the accent is on? How do the color tones change the feeling of this progression? Does it seem more interesting to you?
Add Color Tones: Breakdown
Just play the strumming pattern over an Am chord and work on getting the accents down on the 1st and 3rd beats. Then, you can work with changing chords. Since we’re playing 16th notes, we count using the syllables, “1-e-and-a-2-e-and-a…” etc. You can use a pick or just your fingers to strum. Try not to hit the 5th and 6th strings when you’re strumming the D chord, with its root note on the 4th string!
Add Syncopated Strums: Performance
Our second “accent” is now one 16th note earlier! Because it’s no longer on a down-beat, it adds a feeling of syncopation or a more complex rhythmic feel.
Add Syncopated Strums: Breakdown
Our first accent remains on the “1”. Our second accent comes on the “a” of the second beat. If it helps you to count out loud, or in your head, then do so. For some of you, it just works best to listen to what I’m playing and then copy it.
Open-D Tuning Piece: Key of D
Listen to the basic version in standard tuning. I think you’ll find that open D is a really fun tuning to add to your toolkit. The notes I tune to are these (starting with the 6th or lowest string): D A D F# A D.
For both studies, you’ll hear lot’s of color tones. In the first study, we’ll work with a fingerpicking style referred to as Travis picking (after Merle Travis), and in the 2nd study we’ll work with some harmonics.
Add a Travis Picking Pattern: Performance
Notice the full, deep sound that you’re able to get with this tuning. The chord shapes are quite simple but the sounds and voicings are beautiful. This is one reason I love open tunings so much!
Add a Travis Picking Pattern: Breakdown
Focus first on the picking pattern. Spend some time getting your fingers used to the pattern using the open D chord (yay, no left hand fingerings!). You may already know it, but if it’s new to you, the Travis picking pattern is extremely versatile and is used in many styles and genres of music. When learning the chords, remember to keep any fingers down that you can as you change chords.
Add Harmonics: Performance
We’re using the same Travis picking pattern, but placing harmonics at various spots in the study in order to bring a new sound and texture into the piece. Notice that sometimes I’m striking harmonics one at a time, and sometimes I’m playing a group of 2 or more together, like a chord.
Add Harmonics: Breakdown
Digging these free acoustic guitar lessons? Check out Vicki Genfan’s Acoustic Rhythm Guitar Cookbook.