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How to play rhythm guitar

How to play rhythm guitar
(Image credit: Future)

Once you can play a few chords, the next job is to play a rhythm – and the good news is if you can count to four, you’re halfway there. Just count ‘one, two, three, four’ with steady, even timing and match your strumming to your counting. 

If you can tap your foot, that’s great for helping your body to feel the groove and stay in time.

First, here’s the essential info.

Strumming in time

Downstrokes

Choose a chord, count ‘one, two, three, four’ and play a downward strum on each number.

How to play rhythm guitar

(Image credit: Future)

Down and upstrokes

Keep your count going, but this time alternate between downward and upward strums.

How to play rhythm guitar

(Image credit: Future)

Strumming a D chord

(Image credit: Future)

In a chord you play several notes at the same time – that’s why the numbers are ‘on top’ of each other in the tab. We’ve played it twice, first with downstrokes then alternating between down and up.

Strumming an E chord

(Image credit: Future)

Here’s the same example, this time with an E chord. Hopefully you’re getting the idea by now so try out your new strumming skills with all the chords you’re comfortable with.