Vintage Club #8 with Richard | Rhythm For Advancing Beginners


Full resources for Vintage Club #8 | Rhythm for advancing beginners are now available on the Clubs Archive page here.

If you are willing and able and wish to pay-it-forward here is the link to donate. Thank you so much.


1 Like

The downloadable resources will be uploaded soon - Fanny does this job and is currently on annual leave.

Meanwhile, here is a version to use.

Rhythm recap

With even two or three chords, you can ‘learn songs, learn songs, learn songs’. A next step to improve as a player, to sound better, can be to move our focus away from the fretting hand and on to the strumming hand. This can open up a whole new realm of learning that can enhance the sound and enjoyment of our playing. First, a short recap on some technical aspects that can improve strumming and rhythm play.

  • Hold the pick so your grip is not too light, not too tight, just about right.
  • Have a relaxed hand and loose fingers not in a clench.
  • Strum with a mix of arm and wrist.
  • The smaller arc your arm swings, the better accuracy you will have.
  • Your need to maintain a smooth and constant down and up motion.
  • You do not have to hit all strings all of the time.
  • Say what you play and play what you say.

Dynamic options

We looked at several options for enhancing the sound of our playing using some dynamic techniques. These were:

  • increasing and decreasing volume with softer and louder strums, finding a range between 1 and 10 where 4-5 is our regular, default level;
  • striking only fragments of the chord, the thicker strings, the middle strings, the thinner strings (thicky-thinny);
  • playing a bass-note & a strum alternately;
  • stroking a raked chord on 1;
  • Palm muting;
  • Accenting certain beats - 2 & 4 for example.

One strum per bar

We started by exploring several dynamic options with a single strum on a simple Em chord, mainly using thicky-thinny, bass-strum and raked strum. At this stage it was about keeping things simple to develop the technique in our strumming hand.

Four down strums (quarters)

We expanded the dynamic options when we moved to playing four down strums per bar. This busier rhythm allowed us to mix together several options. Examples of this include a raked strum on 1 followed by regular strumming on 2, 3 & 4. Accenting the 2 & 4 with a louder strum etc.

After a little exploring we put our new found skills to work, playing along to a chord progression of G, D, Em, C. This is the famous Axis of Awesome chord progression in the key of G.

With a simple one strum per bar backing as a guide, we strummed four downs per bar with our own choice of dynamics.

Strumming eighths

We built on a concept from previous sessions of taking a full set of eighths and removing some of the counts to create a rhythm pattern. The one we used was:

Using just the Em chord initially, but then moving on to playing over the ‘awesome’ chord progression, we explored the many options now available to us in terms of mixing and matching and using dynamics when playing with a given strumming pattern.

All-down eighths

With the move to playing all-down eighth strums, we explored the dynamics available from incorporating palm muting - either all strums or in combination with other techniques using mixed dynamic styles. First played using just the Em chord then with the ‘awesome’ progression.

Awesome Song

We had been playing the same four-chord progression repeatedly, bringing to it various means of affecting the dynamics of our guitar sound. It was time to put everything together in song form. The same progression was used throughout but seen as taking place in a structure resembling a full song made up if the following identical-seeming sections:

Awesome Song was structured as follows, with some suggestions as to dynamic options that each could be played with.

  • Intro - played very softly, perhaps with a rake strum on the counts of 1

  • Verse 1 - simple & soft, then with increasing dynamic & volume to the chorus

  • Chorus - very dynamic

  • Verse 2 - drop to softer playing, more complex than verse 1, rising to the chorus

  • Chorus - very dynamic

  • Bridge - all-down 8ths, mixing palm muting, accenting etc.

  • Chorus - the final chorus, the most dynamic

  • Outro - a big drop in intensity, soft and simple again to finish

Click here for a 115 bpm version and here for an 80 bpm version of Awesome Song.


Dynamics can enhance and improve the feel and sound and enjoyment of playing even the simplest of songs and chord progressions. With practice, choosing how to tell a song-story with the help of dynamics will become more an intrinsic part of your skill set. It will take conscious choices and work over time to develop. Apply the techniques developed here to any / all of the songs currency in your repertoire. Have fun!


Anyone having issues logging on? It says “address invalid” when I click on the link in the email.

Can’t access tonight’s club. I’m being asked for a meeting password.
Edit. Got it now. 123. Didn’t have to do that before.

[ mod edit - all club sessions without a moderator will have code 123 ]

Another fabulous session, very helpful, easy to follow and lots of fun. These ideas surely will make my simple beginner songs with a limited number of different chords and chord changes a lot more interesting. Great stuff to experiment and practice!

Thank you so much, Richard :sunflower:


Please see post 2 above for a write up. These will be added as a downloadable document to the Club Archive soon.


Thanks Richard for your effort to typing this all out! Very apprechiated! :green_heart: :guitar:

1 Like

Thank you Richard - EXCELLENT recap…

1 Like

I didn’t see the club session so not 100% what a raked strum is. According to Google it’s similar to a backbeat hit. Is that right?

I used rake to mean a strum that is not a clear hit of all strings in one almost-instant strike but a fractionally slowed down and deliberate stroking of the strings so you hear each note slightly separated from each other. I also suggested a good way to enhance the drama of the sound of the rake is to strum it near the bridge for some twang and bite.

Using “rake” to describe a strum where each note is slightly separated is a great way to add depth and drama to your playing. Strumming near the bridge can enhance the sound with twang and bite, adding to the overall effect.

1 Like

Hi Richard. Really appreciated the session the other evening. This was the second time I’ve been fortunate to book in with yourself and you have impressed on both occasions. I recently took up playing the guitar again after an absence of 40 odd years. Boy do I wish I could have that time again with mentors like yourself, Justin and Lee. I’m looking forward to the next sessions . Thank you

1 Like

@Stuartw - listen to the very beginning of Breathe by Pink Floyd.


10 / 10 for the example Jeff.

An up-strummed ‘rake’ in context.

1 Like

@Stuartw, another good example of an upstrummed rake - Here comes the rain again, by Eurythmics.

(Note: This is my first time using YouTube’s “Clip” feature - hope it works!)


OK. Thanks for the description.

1 Like

Thanks for the link and have abetter understanding of this now.