Boom-chick is a versatile technique employed by many great Fingerstyle guitar legends such as Mose Rager, Ike Everly, Doc Watson, and many more. This approach can be applied to Folk, Country, Blues, Jazz, and Americana songs, and utilizes an alternating thumb pattern often played with muted bass strings and sustaining treble strings.

In Take 5: Boom Chick, Brooks Robertson demonstrates the essential steps for starting to play in this iconic style. Check out the full course for more awesome Fingerstyle exercises!

Level 3 – Overview

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This performance study in A minor has an A and B section with an AABA form and a short coda. The piece requires you to keep your steady alternating bass playing even quarter notes while your melody includes syncopation. A syncopated slide will also be introduced as an expressive technique. The bridge of the tune contrasts the main melody by changing dynamics and being played with a smooth, sustaining, legato approach.

Level 3 – Performance

Download the tab & notation for this fingersyle guitar lesson

Notice that melody in the A section of this tune utilizes a mixture of both short accented staccato notes as well as long sustaining legato notes being played on the top three strings. The bass strings are being muted with the palm of the picking hand and the thumb is continuing to perform steady quarter notes often with a slight accent on beats 2 and 4. Accenting the “backbeat” with the thumb on beats 2 and 4 helps propel the tune and helps establish a solid groove.

Level 3 – Breakdown

Download the tab & notation for this fingersyle guitar lesson

A great way to learn a tune like this is to work on just a few bars at a time, slowly trying to memorize phrases of 4 or 8 bars. Try learning the chord shapes used on the fretting hand and practice the appropriate altering bass with those chords, no melody just alternating bass. Once you have a grasp on what the thumb is doing, go back and work on adding in the melody. Make sure you get a nice swing feel with your 8th notes and work on getting good staccato notes when the melody calls for it on beats 1 and 2 in the A section. When working on the melody in the B section strive for smooth legato melody notes.

Digging this free lesson? Check out Brooks Robertson’s full course, Take 5: Boom Chick.