How to Use Left-Hand Movement within a Right-Hand Strum on the Guitar

By Hal Leonard Corporation, Jon Chappell, Mark Phillips, Desi Serna

When you begin to move the left-hand in conjunction with the right, you uncover an exciting new dimension in rhythm guitar: left-hand movement simultaneous with right-hand rhythm. This “liberating of the left hand” is also the first step in playing single-note riffs and leads on the guitar.

This example features a classic left-hand figure that fits either a straight-eighth-note groove or a shuffle feel (although it’s placed here in a straight-eighth setting). The changing notes in this example are the 5th degrees of each chord, which move briefly to the 6th degree.

o in an A chord, the E moves to F♯; in a D chord the A moves to B; and in an E chord the B moves to C♯. You can find this “5-6 move” in songs by Chuck Berry, the Beatles, ZZ Top, and plenty of blues-rock tunes. The 5-6 move fits over any I-IV-V progression.

Note that to more easily accommodate the 5-6 move, alternate chords and fingering are supplied to satisfy the A, D, and E chords. In each case the chords use only three strings, all adjacent to each other.

And even though it’s in steady eighth notes, this progression should be played using all right-hand downstrokes. If you can throw in some palm muting (as is done on Track 28), so much the better!