How to Play Reggae in Fingerstyle Guitar

Learn how to play reggae from guitarist Adam Smale in this online fingerstyle guitar lesson from Howcast.



A lot of people might not know this, but you can play some really cool reggae grooves in a finger style manner. Your thumb is going to take care of the bass line. And what you're going to do is use your pinkie this time, actually. You're going to use your middle finger, your ring finger, and your pinkie.

What I'm going to do is, I'm going to use those fingers, pinkie on the first string, my ring finger on the second string, and my middle finger on the third string, and I'm going to use those to play the sharp, short chords that you do in reggae. And in reggae, it's always on the up beats. So, if you want to count it out, it's one, and two, and three, and four, and one, and two, and three, and four, and one, and two, and three, and four, and one, and two, and three, and four.

So the chord shapes, I'll explain those. It's just a simple C triad that I'm using fingers, three on the C, an E with my fourth finger on the second string, and then a G, my first finger's taking care of, on the first string.

Then, I'm moving to a G major triad which is from bottom to top, a B on the third, a D on the second, and a G on the first. Both notes are going to be taken care of with my first finger.

And I take that same shape and I move it down here for an F. [playing guitar] So, it's C, G, and F. In order to get those chords to be short, I'm lifting my fingers off, almost right after I've played the chord, but not pulling my fingers right off. What you do is, just lift your fingers and leave your fingers resting on the strings, so that it remains muted and you're not hearing open strings ringing.

So, now I'm going to use these fingers and really let it happen. [playing guitar] Now, my thumb I'll play the bass line. [playing guitar] And I'll explain what I'm doing with the bass line. I'm actually using my index and thumb, because the notes that I have to play are too quick to do just with my thumb. So, because I'm using fingers A or the pinkie, the ring and the middle finger for the chords, it frees up my index finger to be able to play the bass line. [playing guitar] If I do it slow.

[playing guitar]

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