Shuffle Grooves & Strumming

Learn all about shuffle grooves & strumming. Explore how you can get that bluesy sound to your guitar playing!

View the full lesson at Shuffle Grooves & Strumming | JustinGuitar

Are dotted eighth notes a similar concept to the shuffle grooves?


Hi @hechtdds welcome to the community.

Take a bar and think of it divided into four beats - 1/4 beats.
For any one of these 1/4 beats you can subdivide into two 1/8ths or four 1/16ths etc.
You asked about dotted 1/8ths.
A dot against any note extends its duration by half of its original value.
A dotted 1/8 therefore becomes 1/8 + 1/16 = 2/16 + 1/16 = 3/16.
If you took the first ‘hit’ as a dotted 1/8 the second ‘hit’ would necessarily have to come within the remaining 1/16th.

Here is a bar split into four 1/16ths.

1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a

I have emboldened the first quarter beat and its four 1/16ths.

Separately they would be:

1 e & a

The dotted 1/8 would take up the first three parts.

1 e & a

This equates to exactly what Justin demonstrates in the video lesson from about 3min15s. It kind of is a shuffle but has that clunkiness Justin describes. But the better way to describe this is through use of 1/16 beats from the start, not the use of dotted 1/8ths.
Does that make sense?

Cheers :blush:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide & Moderator

1 Like

Thanks for such a detailed response. Also thanks for everything you guys do on this site.

This makes some sense I will let this soak in and practice before asking for more clarification.

Hand a happy harmonious day!

1 Like

Boy is this going to take while.

1 Like

Take your time, no hurry, no race.
Cheers :smiley:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide

It’s interesting coming across the rhythm lessons, having played drums for over 30 years this stuff seems effortless, nice to experience something that translates. I struggle a lot with my fretting muscle memory and aiming for individual strings. It’s nice to feel ahead in something.

1 Like

Hello @erocka77 and welcome to the Community.

Your drumming background will certainly help with the rhythm side of guitar.

Cheers :smiley:
| Richard_close2u | Community Moderator, Official Guide, JustinGuitar Approved Teacher

This really getting to be fun.

1 Like

I was told a good tip about this: instead of having the up/down swing of your pick centered on the 6 strings, lower the whole motion (i.e. the pick never goes higher than the low E string but goes much lower than high E). That automatically gives a longer time between down->up stroke and shorter time between up->down . Your up/down stroke remains constant but you get the shuffle/swing rhythm

1 Like

I didn’t understand the difference between triplet shuffle 66% and 16th Note shuffle 75%.

1 Like

From a total beginners perspective (so take what I say with a pinch of salt. For triplets the beat is broken down into three equal parts. For shuffle the first two notes of each set are tied together. Therefore, the first note lasts for 66% and the last note for 33%. For 16th notes the beat is broken down into four equal parts. For the shuffle the first three notes would be tied together. So the first note played would last for 75% and last note 25%.

1 Like

Having another go at this as didn’t really get it the first. Not sure I get now to be honest.

So in a bar of 4 the strums would be D , gap, U followed by quick D, repeat times 3, gap U. Does that make sense. Is that right?



Hey stuart. You’re getting there. Try saying out loud 1&ah 2&ah 3&ah 4&ah whilst you go down on the 1 and up on the ah etc.


Stuart @Stuartw
Not sure if this is what Justin teaches but on the down stroke my arm moves further down than it would normally which creates that gap before the up strum.
It sounds ok to me.

1 Like

For shuffle think swagger.

Strum with a swagger as a cool cat might walk with a swagger.

Shuffle Rhythm

To help you count the shuffle groove listen to the original and try to play along. Shuffle rhythms make use of triplet counting.

1-trip-let 2-trip-let 3-trip-let 4-trip-let

Clap your hands, stamp your feet, nod your head as you get to feel the triplet feel of counting three eigths per beat. Next, remove the & from all counts - for shuffle rhythm the middle part is omitted, there is no ‘trip’ - leaving the following:.

1-trip-let 2-trip-let 3-trip-let 4-trip-let

The ‘let’ part is often replaced with ‘a’ or ‘uh’.

1-trip-a 2-trip-a 3-trip-a 4-trip-a

1- -a 2- - a 3- -a 4- -a

Try playing a single string instead of strumming if this isn’t coming easy. Play with palm-muted percussive single notes at first. Follow the TAB for a 12-Bar Shuffle in A using single notes.

Compare and contrast shuffle with straight 1/8ths.

To help emphasise that shuffle rhythm has a long followed by a short try counting out loud with your words enunciated to match.

Straight Eighths (using hard consonants)

One And Two And Three And Four And

Shuffle Eighths (using long vowels)

Ooo ne Ah Twoo Ah Threee Ah Fooour Ah

Note the spacing in the image design too.

1 Like

Tried that, but changing to different strings is hard. Can play one string OK with the shuffle rhythm but changing is an issue as I end on a D not U before moving which is obviously wrong. Having to do this at snail pace and really concentrate which then puts the rhythm out!! :frowning:

Play it with all Down picks until you catch the groove instinctively.

Thanks. It kind of helps but still doing two D’s at the bar end before changing. This is going to take some time to sort out.

Try clapping and speaking the rhythm without even playing your guitar. Lol your head and sway your shoulders 1 – ah 2 – ah 3 – ah 4 – ah.

Listen to this version as a guide.