Open chord strum is a phrase I use to describe a guitar technique that can help improve your overall timing and rhythm. It’s easy to play and can transform your strumming into something that sounds more interesting too. Many chord changes require that you take all your fingers off the strings during the transition. When this is the case it can become very difficult for a beginner to maintain their rhythm. Fortunately it’s easy to alleviate this problem by simply incorporating an open chord strum…
In a previous lesson I explained how to improve your timing when two or more chords have at least one tone that shares the same string. In this lesson you’ll learn how to strum an “Open Chord” to achieve quicker chord changes. Get step by step instructions below…
How to Play An Open Chord Strum:
1. Begin by holding a G Major chord
2. Strum 3 quarter beats while counting: 1 2 3…
3. On the 4th beat lift your fingers up and strum an open chord as you move to the D chord
5. Strum the D chord on the 1st beat as you continue counting: 1 2 3…
6. On the 4th beat lift your fingers up and strum an open chord as you move back to the G chord
7. Strum the G chord as you continue counting: 1 2 3…
It shouldn’t be long before you are able to move easily from one chord to the next in time to strum the 1st beat. When you are comfortable doing this you can introduce the A Major chord into the mix to make the exercise a little more challenging.
D G A D
Begin by practicing the new chord in pairs just as you did with D and G…
G to A then A to G
A to D then D to A
Use an open chord strum to transition back and forth. Remember that your goal is to reach the new chord on the 1st beat in time for the 1st strum. When you have achieved this you’re ready to complete the sequence with D to G then G to A then A to D.
Incorporate “Economy of Motion” when moving from A to D by leaving your 3rd finger down on the 2nd string and sliding it to the 3rd fret rather than lifting it up and placing it back down .
Using an open chord strum and playing in pairs are both very helpful exercises for learning and practicing new chords. They allow you to focus your attention on the quality and execution of the fingering and timing, in addition to providing you with a method for moving forward in a progressive manner.
These are the elements that you’ll want to take seriously as you’re reaching for the next level of proficiency in your guitar playing.