Today’s mandolin technique study focuses on Strumming Patterns. We’ll cover a few main types of patterns that you can use in your playing.
I’ll use the Big G Chop in my examples. If you are not familiar with that chord, check out my Mandolin Chord Shape Studies and Mandolin Chord Library.
In this lesson we’ll move from a basic quarter note strum pattern up to the more complicated “boom chuck” and finally “just chuck” strumming. As with all rhythm practices, I highly recommend using a metronome when practicing. If you don’t have one, here’s the one I use which has lasted me over 20 years.
Quarter Note Strumming
Essentially you’ll just “down strum” each beat keeping your fingers on the strings and fingerboard the whole time.
Pulsing Quarter Note Strumming
By taking the basic Quarter Note Strum and adding some pulsing, you’ll create a more rhythmic feel. The pulse essentially is just releasing the pressure in your fretting but not taking your fingers off the strings. This will deaden the strings, which produce a more rhythmic feel.
Take the above a step further, the Boom Chuck is a “back beat” pattern – meaning the emphasis is on the 2 and 4 beats. In this you’ll simply play the lowest note of the chord on the 1 and 3 beats (the “boom”), the a quick strum / pulse (the “chuck”). In this pattern there’s two options:
Boom Chuck with two pulses
Here you’ll pulse your hand after the Boom and the Chuck
Boom Chuck with one pulse
Here you’ll pulse your hand only after the Chuck
With this pattern, you are playing a Boom Chuck – just without the Boom. This means you’ll only be playing on the 2 and 4 beats. This can be more challenging at first, so I recommend having a good grasp on the Boom Chuck before really diving in to this pattern.
The Waltz Boom chuck chuck
While most of the lesson covered 4/4 timing – you can use the same idea for a waltz. A waltz is usually in 3/4 or 6/8 – the differences between the two can be important, but are out of the scope of this lesson. To keep things easy, I’m focusing on 3/4 time.
In this, you’ll play one Boom followed by two Chucks. The emphasis is on the Boom here with the Chucks being slightly less pronounced.
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