Get stories like this in your inbox (free!)
Excerpted from Acoustic Rock Essentials: Ten Great Rock Fingerpicking Patterns
Posted by Andrew DuBrock
Sometimes, you only need a simple trick to create the right feel, and that’s the key to the groove in Example 1a. The steady eighth-note pattern is about as simple as they come, but it’s the consistent use of downstrokes that gives this rhythm pattern its character. This steady chugging sound provides more of a constant rhythm than alternating between downstrokes and upstrokes, and you can hear it in countless songs, like the Beatles “Across the Universe,” which has a similar sound to Example 1b.
Play the progression in Example 1c with a heavy hand, and it sounds similar to the overdriven fill section of Coldplay’s “Yellow.” Lighten up the strums, and it sounds like the verse backup to the same song. But this I–V–IV–I progression can sound like a completely different song with just a few more tweaks—add a little palm muting and chunk through just the lower portion of each chord to get a power-chord type accompaniment similar to countless songs (Example 1d). And make sure to play around with any rhythm pattern you come across. Alternating between the power-chord type sound for two strums and the full-chord strums for two strums provides a more varied sound (Example 1e), and playing around with all of these variables gives you many more options.