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Jake Jackson

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Play Guitar Made Easy: Strumming Techniques (Videos)

Posted by Jake Jackson

play guitar, chord finderGood strumming is a core skill for every guitarist, especially the acoustic specialist. Most people start with simple strokes up and down, so its worth refining your methods as soon as possible: it's all too easy to slip into bad habits! One of the great things about the guitar is that you can make a good sound very quickly with very little knowledge of chords, and no interest in notation: strumming will allow you to get to grips with the songs you like, or make up your own. 

Strumming is one of the early steps in learning to play the guitar. This post is a companion to the strumming technique pages (Step 2, page 46 if you must know) in Play the Guitar Made Easy, link here). You can also use our music website to hear chords and scales.

These short videos use a medium body Morris acoustic guitar, which has Fishman pick-up for live gigs. It's a robust guitar, it combines bright tones with a warm, reflective character: like a mini Martin (I wish!).

Strumming Techniques 01: Right Hand Positions

This first video shows the sound of strumming the guitar at different places - at the bridge, at the end of the neck, over the sound hole, each producing different qualities of sound. Playing close to the bridge creates a tight, rockier feel, but over the neck the sound is blousier. 

Strumming Techniques 02: Rocky Strokes (Bass Strings)

Strumming on the 6th and 5th bass strings, close to the bridge of the guitar, gives a nice rocky feel. Keep the wrist loose but hold the pick firm and try to avoid too much movement from the arm. This is a simple exercise based on G major, A minor and E major, played using barre chords (on the first two chords) to give a tight, solid sound. 

Strumming Techniques 03: Upstrokes (Treble Strings)


Using up-strokes naturally strikes the trebles strings first to produce a clear, bright sound. This video plays the strokes slowly at first, then speeds up. Towards the end the edge of the palm is used to deaden the ring of the strings, creating a more percussive flow. The chords are all variations on D major. 

This technique works well as a companion to lower notes sounded on another acoustic guitar, creating a wider harmonic base for melodic instruments or voices to move around.

Strumming Techniques 04: Full Strokes (All Strings)

There are three types of full stroke strumming here: slow, full chords; faster full chords; fast and percussive. The slower chords here ring out with a clear, natural reverb; the same chords played faster propel the song forward; the percussive final section allows for more complex rhythms, which would combine with other instruments, voices, or straightforward stamping of the feet! The chords here are C major, A minor and G major.

There's More to Strumming Than Meets the Ear!

An acoustic guitar can take the place of drums in a simple set-up, creating the engine room of a song. If more than one guitar is playing chords in the full-stroke style of strumming, one guitar should take the first position chords and the other use second or, preferably, third position to give some variety and width to the sound.


  • Our Flame Tree Music chord finder website with sounds for each note. Here. Also now, 20 scales for each key.
  • Take a look at Flame Tree Rock for inspiration, mixtapes and free downloads.
  • More video techniques here and here.


chord finder, flame tree music,, scales, piano chords

Topics: learn guitar, guitar chords, videos, chord finder, folk guitar, rock guitar

Play Guitar Made Easy: Left Hand Technique 01 (Videos)

Posted by Jake Jackson

To play guitar well you have to play it every day. According to one of Jimi Hendrix’s girlfriends (Monika Dannemann I think) in the late '60s he used to walk around their Chelsea flat with the guitar strapped to him, all the time, making breakfast, drinking vodka, watching TV – the guitar became part of his body.

We can’t all be as good as the greatest guitarist who ever lived (yes, I'm biased) but, assuming we play because we love the sound and feel of the instrument, we can do everything possible to get better.

This particular video shows a simple left hand technique.

Left Hand Fingerwork

The rif, a flamenco-flavoured exercise I do every day to warm up my fingers, is full of little techniques including:

  • fluid playing from note to note
  • occasional note holds
  • note bends
  • vibrato
  • hammer-ons

To see the full effect of this, take a look at the video below which shows what the right hand is doing.

Watch the fingers pause while the hammer-ons operate on the left hand, continuing the melody. It is entirely possible to play a series of notes without using your right hand. This gives the sound a more fluid quality and adds some texture and variety to your playing.

Guitar technique, play guitar,This sort of rif can be played on any guitar: electric, acoustic steel, flamenco or classical nylon, as long as the instrument has some bounce in the strings (some of the cheapest guitars are so rigid it’s impossible to get a decent sound out of them). An electric rock guitarist might hold some of the notes longer, a folk guitarist might try to achieve a more staccato feel but a classical player might aim for greater tonal variation.

A Couple of Other Tips

  • It’s important to feel the string as you play, don’t just knock out the note: push into it, move around it, make it resonate.

  • Here's a simple exercise to play once a week: strike just one note repeatedly but make a different sound with each stroke, find different qualities of sound each time: harder, softer, more vibrato, make it rasp and sing.

It's worth spending five minutes a day on left and right hand techniques for a few weeks while you begin to explore the notes and strings.

The next videos will focus on further left hand techniques and introduce chord combinations.


  • Our Flame Tree Music chord finder website with sound for each noteHere.

  • Take a look at Flame Tree Rock for inspirationmixtapes and free downloads.

  • See a video for right hand techniques here.

chord finder, flame tree music,, scales, piano chords


Topics: Flame Tree Music, Jimi Hendrix, play guitar, scales and chords, jake jackson

Play Guitar Made Easy: Right Hand Techniques (video)

Posted by Jake Jackson

Learning the basics is fundamental to playing the guitar
. Right hand stance, left hand movement, keeping in tune, finger positions; it is critical to focus on these before starting to play chords and melodies. All of the major styles, jazz, rock, folk, country, blues, have these fundamentals in common.

play guitar, right hand, jake jacksonOver the next few months we’ll introduce a series of posts on guitar techniques, adding a further dimension to our extensive range of practical music books and our new chord and scales website, Flame Tree Music.

This short video uses a flame red flamenco guitar to demonstrate basic right hand techniques.

Before We Start

  • Find a chair that you feel comfortable with, preferably with a hard frame and back.
  • Rest the guitar on your knee, relax your shoulders and try to keep your back straight. 
  • You must feel comfortable before placing your hands on the guitar.
  • Relax your right hand and let it fall naturally across the strings.
  • For this style of playing, longer nails on the right hand will give your strokes some bite.

Thumb For Bass

  • The thumb strikes the bottom three strings, (from the heaviest string), E, A and D. 
  • Try to practise simple note progressions
  • Play slowly at first. It’s always tempting to start quickly but if you can discipline yourself and keep a steady rhythm, speed will come.

Strumming (in this case Rasgueo)

  • This is a powerful technique that can generate loud volume and, used effectively, allows you to use the tension in the strings to create a clattering sound. 
  • Every form of strumming can switch from percusssive intensity to flowing waves of sound. Try playing gently and loudly to feel your way into this technique.
  • This particular rasgueo style uses the second finger to lead the attack on the strings, with the others following in a cascading fan. Traditional flamenco uses the forefinger which allows the second finger for the golpe, a percussive tap.


  • The palm or the whole hand is used for damping the strings.
  • Useful for finishing or closing off the sound at the end of a phrase or the whole song.
  • Effective in creating quiet percussive passages between strikes and chords.
Play Guitar, right hand 01, jake jacksonIt's worth spending five minutes a day on right hand techniques for a few weeks while you begin to explore the notes and strings. The next videos will focus on left hand techniques and introduce chords.



  • Our Flame Tree Music chord finder website with sound for each note. Here.
  • Take a look at Flame Tree Rock for inspiration, mixtapes and free downloads.
  • Links to further video techniques will be posted here as they are made available.
chord finder, flame tree music,, scales, piano chords


Topics: strumming, Flame Tree Music, flamenco