Learn to Play the Guitar in Two Weeks, Day 8: Strumming My Gay Guitar

“let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth” (Matthew 6:3)

“there should be no schism in the body; but the members should have the same care one for another” (1 Cor. 12:25)

Jesus and St Paul may not be best known as guitar tutors, but their advice, if taken together, not only becomes a mystic almost-contradiction (of the kind which probably makes sense if you’re a true believer — Merry Christmas!), but is actually sound advice. The problem is precisely how to combine the two statements.

A good strumming technique depends on the two hands being able to work together at doing things separately, without regard for what the other hand does.

Strumming techniques

As always, Dylan is our guide. I set out to go through all of his early, acoustic albums to find his strumming patterns, but I soon found that it was unnecessary: all the basic principles are there from the beginning.

So, the following patterns, which are mostly just variations of a few basic principles, recur again and again:

She’s No Good, Talkin’ New York Blues, Man of constant
sorrow, and many others

(the tab snippets will fit better in their frames if you view the post as a single post, and not from the main page with the sidebar. I’ll have to fix that theme one of these days…)

  C
  V   v   V ^ v ^       V   v     ^ v ^        V   v ^ V   v ^
  :   .   .   .         :   .   .   .          :   .   .   .
|-----0-----0---0-|   |-----0-----0---0-|    |-----0-0-----0-0-|
|-----1-----1-1-1-|   |-----1-----1-1-1-|    |-----1-1-----1-1-|
|-----0-------0---|   |-----0-------0---|    |-----0-------0---|
|-------------2---|   |-------------2---|    |-----------------|
|-3-------3-------|   |-3---------------|    |-3---------------|
|-----------------|   |-----------------|    |---------3-------|

Pretty Peggy-O

  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----3-3-3-3-----|-----3-3-3-3-3-3-|
|-----0-0-0-0-----|-----0-0-0-0-0-0-|
|-----0-0-0-0-----|-----0-0-0-0-0-0-|
|-----0---0-------|-----0---0---0---|
|-----------------|-----------------|
|-3-----------0---|-3---------------|

  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .    :   .   .
|-----3-3-----3-3-|-----3-3-----3-3-|----0-0-----
|-----0-0-----0-0-|-----0-0-----0-0-|----1-1-----
|-----0-0-----0-0-|-----0-0-----0-0-|----0-0-----
|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|----2-------
|---------2-------|---------2-------|-3----------
|-3---------------|-3---------------|--------3---

House of the Rising Sun

    :   .   .        :   .   .        :   .   .
||------0-0-0-0--||------0-0-0-0--||------2-2-2-2--||
||*-----1-1-1-1-*||*-----1-1-1-1-*||*-----3-3-3-3-*||
||------2-2-2-2--||------0-0-0-0--||------2-2-2-2--||
||--2---2---2----||------2---2----||------0--------||
||*-0-----------*||*-3-----------*||*-0-----------*||
||---------------||--3------------||--2------------||

(The asterisks “*” mean: repeat.)

I think that should be enough to make a point, but before I summarize the evidence:

Whatever you do with the tabs above, don’t take them too literally, except on one point: the overall image.

I’ve written out some quite specific string combinations for the various stokes, but that’s mainly because the notation system dictates it. For example, I’ve indicated a differing number of strings to strike in the non-bass part; that’s just a way to distinguish between upstrokes and downstrokes.

The only thing that is important in the tabs is the distinction between bass strings and treble strings, and the general distinction between up- and downstrokes — not how many strings are played at each of them.

That is to say:

  • There’s a consistent emphasis of the bass notes at the beginning of every measure and at some of the major intermediate downstrokes.
  • Some times — such as if you are playing a bass melody — it is important to play some particular string alone, but in general “any bass string in the general area of the fundamental tone of the key” will do…
    • (that is to say: try to play the fundamental tone of the key at all major structural points.)
  • The last example in the first line above represents the “alternating bass” pattern. If used schematically, it has a certain “oompa–oompa” character to it, but for longer stretches on the same chord, it is a great way to create variety.
  • The second “She’s no Good” and the first “Pretty Peggy-O” example both represent a whole class of effects which may be called “preparing for the strong beat” — the first by leaving out the bass tone on the last beat of the measure altogether, the second by releasing all the strings and just strumming what happens to be next (in this case: the open sixth string). That way, the real bass tone, when it finally arrives on the first beat of the following measure, receives extra strength.
  • The second line of the “Pretty Peggy-O” examples contains a hint of a bass line, similar to the ones we met in lesson 5
  • So much for the bass tones. In general, one might say that the bass tones are responsible for marking where we are, in a melody or in the harmony, whereas the treble strings set the energy level. Giving some prominence to the upstrokes, as in the first examples, gives a certain forward drive; playing on all the subdivisions, such as in the second measure of the “Pretty Peggy-O” example, gives another kind of drive, whereas leaving them out, as is the case, e.g. in “The Times They Are A-Changin’”, gives a sturdy feeling. Compare also with the constant ringing of “Chimes of Freedom”.
  • One might go so far as to present it as an advice to play as little as possible. That may be going too far, but keep in mind (and try it out) that it takes less than one usually thinks to get great effect.

Hammer-ons and pull-offs

A hammer-on is what you get when you hammer a finger onto a string with such force that you get a tone when it hits. Here are two classics that both use hammer-ons in the bass to great effect.

First, play the following until your lips bleed and you have blisters on your fingers.

  Am
  :   .   .     :   .   .     :   .   .     :   .   .
|-----0-0-0-0-|-----0-0-0-0-|-----0-0-0-0-|-----0-0-0-0-|
|-----1-1-1-1-|-----1-1-1-1-|-----1-1-1-1-|-----1-1-1-1-|
|-----2-2-2-2-|-----2-2-2-2-|-----2-2-2-2-|-----2-2-2-2-|
|-------------|-0h2---------|-------------|-0h2---------|
|-0-----------|-------------|-0-----------|-------------|
|-------------|-------------|-------------|-------------|

Notice how the rhythm in the second and fourth measure is exactly even: there is something happening on every subdivision of the measure, and everything happens at exactly the same intervals.

If your right hand starts to act up on you in the second and fourth measure and wants to do something — that’s when you ask yourself: “What would Jesus do?” And the answer is: “Nothing!” The right hand shouldn’t know what the left hand does, remember? Just because there is rhythmical activity somewhere in the system, that doesn’t mean that the right hand should break its own established rhythm pattern.

Working Class Hero

When you’ve gotten that, in practice, or at least as a concept to strive towards, you are ready to use this pattern for something useful: John Lennon’s classic “Working Class Hero”, one of the greatest Dylan songs Dylan has never written.

    Am                          G
    :   .   .     :   .   .     :   .   .
||------0-0-0-0-|-----0-0-0-0-|-----3-3-3-3-|
||*-----1-1-1-1-|-----1-1-1-1-|-----0-0-0-0-|
||------2-2-2-2-|-----2-2-2-2-|-----0-0-0-0-|
||--------------|-0h2---------|-----0-0-0-0-|
||*-0-----------|-------------|-2-----------|
||--------------|-------------|-3-----------|
As  soon as you’re born they make you feel
by  giving you   no   time in - stead of it
    pain is so   big  you feel nothing at
    Working Class hero    is   something to 

  Am
  :   .   .     :   .   .     :   .   .     :   .   .
|-----0-0-0-0-|-----0-0-0-0-|-----0-0-0-0-|-----0-0-0-0--||
|-----1-1-1-1-|-----1-1-1-1-|-----1-1-1-1-|-----1-1-1-1-*||
|-----2-2-2-2-|-----2-2-2-2-|-----2-2-2-2-|-----2-2-2-2--||
|-------------|-0h2---------|-------------|-0h2----------||
|-0-----------|-------------|-0-----------|-------------*||
|-------------|-------------|-------------|--------------||
  small
  all                                              till the
  all                                               a
  be                                                a

  Am            G             D
  :   .   .     :   .   .     :   .   .
|-----0-0-0-0-|-----3-3-3-3-|-----2-2-2-2-|
|-----1-1-1-1-|-----0-0-0-0-|-----3-3-3-3-|
|-----2-2-2-2-|-----0-0-0-0-|-----2-2-2-2-|
|-------------|-----0-0-0-0-|-0-----------|
|-0-----------|-2-----------|-0-----------|
|-------------|-3-----------|-2-----------|
  Working-Class Hero    is    something to

  Am
  :   .   .     :   .   .     :   .   .     :   .   .
|-----0-0-0-0-|-----0-0-0-0-|-----0-0-0-0-|-----0-0-0-0-|
|-----1-1-1-1-|-----1-1-1-1-|-----1-1-1-1-|-----1-1-1-1-|
|-----2-2-2-2-|-----2-2-2-2-|-----2-2-2-2-|-----2-2-2-2-|
|-------------|-0h2---------|-------------|-0h2---------|
|-0-----------|-------------|-0-----------|-------------|
|-------------|-------------|-------------|-------------|
  be

The D major chord uses a very convenient variant with the thumb on the sixth string. If you’re still not comfortable with that, just leave that string out.

In this song, the hammer-ons are mainly used for rhythmic effect. In the next, it is responsible for the melody.

Wish you were here

Some points:

  • On the album, this is played on a 12-string guitar, hence the gorgeous sound.
  • Use the 320033 shape for G.
  • the rest is just those two fingers resting still on the first and second strings, and then the melody being played on the bass strings.
  • Make a clear distinction between the bass melody and the strumming. It doesn’t matter too much exactly which strings you strum at which beats.
  • When you get to the A7sus4 part, use the index finger in a half barre. I’ll explain the “sus4″ part in a moment.
 G             Em7
 .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
-------------|---------3---3-3-|---3-3-----------|
-------------|---------3---3-3-|---3-3-----------|
-------------|---------0---0-0-|---0-0---0-------|
---------0---|-2---------------|-------------2---|
-----0h2-----|-----------------|-----------------|
-3-----------|-----------------|-----------------|

  G
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|---------3---3-3-|---3-------------|
|---------3---3-3-|---3-------------|
|---------0---0-0-|---0-------------|
|-0---------------|-------------0---|
|-----------------|---------0h2-----|
|-----------------|-----3-----------|

  Em7
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|---------continue with ------------|
|---------same strumming------------|
|------------ pattern ------0-------|
|-2---------------|-------------2---|
|-----------------|-----------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|

  G
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----------------|-----------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|
|-0---------------|-------------0---|
|-----------------|---------0h2-----|
|-----------------|-----3-----------|

  Em7
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----------------|-----------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|
|-2---------------|-----2---0-------|
|-----------------|-------------2---|
|-----------------|-----------------|

  A7sus4
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|---------3---3-3-|---3-3-----------|
|---------3---3-3-|---3-3-----------|
|---------2---2-2-|---2-2-----------|
|---------2---2-2-|---2-2-------0---|
|-0---------------|---------0h2-----|
|-----------------|-----------------|

  Em7
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|---------3---3-3-|---3-------------|
|---------3---3-3-|---3-------------|
|---------0---0-0-|---0-------------|
|-2---------------|-----2---0-------|
|-----------------|-------------2---|
|-----------------|-----------------|

  A7sus4
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|---------3---3-3-|---3-3-----------|
|---------3---3-3-|---3-3-----------|
|---------2---2-2-|---2-2-----------|
|---------2---2-2-|---2-2-----------|
|-0---------------|---------0h2-0---|
|-----------------|-----------------|

  G
  :   .
|-------
|-------
|-------
|-------  etc.
|-------
|-3-----

More songs to attempt

If this isn’t enough — and it probably isn’t — there are numerous other songs you might want to attempt using the same or similar techniques. One is Song to Woody, another is Pretty Boy Floyd.

sus-chords

We met the sus-chord in “Wish You Were Here”. The sus-chord is a single-purpose chord, one might say. Its effect comes from the special character of the third in a chord. The third: the vibrant, tension-laden, teenager son who determines the mood of the whole chord.

“Sus” is short for “suspended”. What it means is that the third in the chord is temporarily suspended — hung up — usually to the step above, the fourth, hence the name “sus4″.

This  implies that the sus4 chord is not an independent chord: it requires a resolution. One will usually see it followed by the standard chord, e.g.:

  Csus4   C
  :   .   .   .
|-----------------|
|-1-------1-------|
|-0-------0-------|
|-3-------2-------|
|-3-------3-------|
|-----------------|

Another variant is “sus2″. It does the same thing — suspends the third –.but this time to the tone below (so maybe it should be called “subpend”…).

  Csus2   C
  :   .   .   .
|-----------------|
|-1-------1-------|
|-0-------0-------|
|-0-------2-------|
|-3-------3-------|
|-----------------|

Sus-chords are ideal for picking out a melody in the bass strings, with hammer-ons and pull-offs, but before we go on to an example of that, here are a few points in clarification:

  • The whole point of the sus-chord is that the third is not present, so one should distinguish between sus-chords and the same chord with the third. E.g. x32030 is not a sus2 chord even though it contains the tone below the third (it’s the note on the second string: d). The proper name for this chord would be Cadd9, but I’ll leave the explanation for a later post.
  • Since the third is missing, it might be said that it makes no sense to distinguish between major and minor (since those are defined by the third). I would still argue that it makes sense: the sus-chord is a temporary replacement, and thus retains — in advance! — some of the character of the chord it replaces. Hence:
      Amsus4  Am        Asus4   A
      :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
    |-----------------|-----------------|
    |-3-------1-------|-3-------2-------|
    |-2-------2-------|-2-------2-------|
    |-2-------2-------|-2-------2-------|
    |-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|
    |-----------------|-----------------|
  • Occasionally, a chord like Asus4 is used independently of A, as an independent chord. This is convenient, although theoretically dubious…
  • The sus4 chord is a distant relative of the seventh chord, since the function of both is to create tension, suspense, which require resolution. But it is also close to the subdominant: that extra tone is the keynote of the subdominant chord. E.g.
      Csus4   F/c
      :   .   .   .
    |-----------------|
    |-1-------1-------|
    |-0-------2-------|
    |-3-------3-------|
    |-3-------3-------|
    |-----------------|

World Gone Wrong

World Gone Wrong, and to some extent its precursor Good As I Been To You provides excellent examples of these techniques: picking out the melody, or just snippets of melody-like figures, just enough to give the impression of a line; complete with sus-chords and hammer-ons.

I’ve written something more general about the album before, but it may actually be useful to have the general image in place before we move on to the specifics, so here goes: World Gone Wrong is a Body In Sound.

The simpler examples, you should be able to figure out yourself, from the tabs/chords at dylanchords.

Here, one of the more interesting examples: “Two Soldiers”. Just so that those who are not Dylan geeks and have every single album can also take part, here is a sheet:

Two Soldiers

I’ve deliberately kept the chords simple, because that’s what it is in principle: three chords.

But then have a look at the tab file which shows more or less what Dylan plays:

        G/d              C/e  G/d   C
    1   :   .   .     :   .   .     :   .   .
    ||--3---3-3-3---|-3---3---3---|-------------|
    ||*-0---0-0-0---|-0---1p0-0---|-1---1-1-----|
    ||--0---0-0-0---|-0---0---0---|-0---0-0-----|
    ||--0-------0---|-0---2p0-0---|-2---2-2-----|
    ||*-------------|-------------|-0h3---------|
    ||--------------|-------------|---------3---|
He was just     a     blue -  eyed  Bo    - ston
       do       your  bid -   ding, com   - rade
       mo - ther you  know    must  hear    the

   F
 4 :   .   .      :   .   .     :   .   .
 |-1---1-1-1----|-----1-1-1---|-----1-1-1-1-|-----1-1-1-1-|
 |-1---1-1-1----|-----1-1-1---|-----1-1-1-1-|-----1-1-1-1-|
 |-2---2-2-2----|-----2-2-2---|-----2-2-2-2-|-----2-2-2-2-|
 |-3---3-3-3----|-----3-3-3---|-----3-3-3-3-|-----3-3-3-3-|
 |-3------------|-3-----------|-3-----------|-3-----------|
 |-1------------|-1-----------|-1-----------|-1-----------|
   boy                                                his
   mine                                               If
   news,                                              so

   F                   G   C
 8 :   .   .     :   .   .     :   .   .
 |---1-1-1-1-1-|-----1-0-0-0-|-0---0-0-0----|
 |---1-1-1-1-1-|-----1-0-0-1-|-1---1-1-1----|
 |---2-2-2-2-2-|-----2-0-0-0-|-0---0-0-0----|
 |---3-3-3-3-3-|(0h3)3-3-3(2)|-2------------|
 |-3-----------|-0h3------(3)|-3------------|
 |-------------|-------------|-3------------|
   voice   was   low     in    pain
   I       ride  back    a -   gain.
   write to her  ten -   der - ly.

11 :   .   .      :   .   .                 Fine
 |-----0-0-0-0-|-----0-0-0-0-|-----0-0-0---||
 |-----1-1-1-1-|-----1-1-1-1-|-----1-1-1--*||
 |-----0-0-0-0-|-----0-0-0-0-|-----0-0-0---||
 |-2-----------|-------------|-0h2---------||
 |-------------|-------------|------------*||
 |-------------|-3-----------|-------------||
                                       I’ll
                                       but if

 Csus4 C/e G/d   G/d /e  /f    C/g
14 :   .   .     :   .   .     :   .   .     :   .   .
 |---0---0---3-|---3---0---0-|-0---0-0-0---|-0---0-0-0-0-|
 |-1---1---0---|-0---0---0---|-0h1-1-1-1---|-1---1-1-1-1-|
 |-0---0---0---|-0---0---0---|-0-----------|-0-----------|
 |-3---2---0---|-0---2---3---|-------------|-------------|
 |-------------|-------------|-------------|-------------|
 |-------------|-------------|-------------|-------------|
   you __ ride   back    and   I       am    left,   you’ll

 Csus4 C/e G/d   G/d /e  C/g                     DC al fine
18 :   .   .     :   .   .     :   .   .     :   .   .
 |---0---0---3-|---3---3---3-|-----3-3-3-3-|-----3-3-3-3-||
 |-1---1---0---|-0---0---1---|-0---0-0-0-0-|-----0-0-0-0-||
 |-0---0---0---|-0---0---0---|-0-----------|-0-----------||
 |-3---2---0---|-0---2-------|-------------|-0-----------||
 |-------------|-------------|-------------|-------------||
 |-------------|-------------|-------------|-------------||
   do      as    much    for   me.

(DC al fine means: from the top until the word “Fine” (which means: “end”). I’ve also numbered the measures, for later reference.)

Please don’t let all the details in the tab scare you away. First, let us strip it down to the barest details, to see what it is that Dylan is playing, fundamentally:

        G                           C
        :   .   .     :   .   .     :   .   .
    ||--------------|-------------|-------------|
    ||*-------------|-------------|-------------|
    ||--------------|-------------|-------------|
    ||--0-------0---|-0---2---0---|-------------|
    ||*-------------|-------------|-3-----------|
    ||--------------|-------------|---------3---|
He was just     a     blue -  eyed  Bo    - ston
       do       your  bid -   ding, com   - rade
       mo - ther you  know    must  hear    the

  F
  :   .   .      :   .   .     :   .   .
|--------------|-------------|-------------|-------------|
|--------------|-------------|-------------|-------------|
|--------------|-------------|-------------|-------------|
|--------------|-------------|-------------|-------------|
|--------------|-------------|-------------|-------------|
|-1------------|-1-----------|-1-----------|-1-----------|
  boy                                                his
  mine                                               If
  news,                                              so

  F                     G     C
  :   .   .     :   .   .     :   .   .
|-------------|-------------|--------------|
|---------1---|-1-------0---|-1------------|
|---2---------|-------------|--------------|
|-------------|-------------|--------------|
|-------------|-------------|--------------|
|-------------|-------------|--------------|
  voice   was   low     in    pain
  I       ride  back    a -   gain.
  write to her  ten -   der - ly.

 :   .   .      :   .   .                 Fine
|-------------|-------------|---------------||
|-------------|-------------|--------------*||
|-------------|-------------|---------------||
|-------------|-------------|---------------||
|-------------|-------------|--------------*||
|-------------|-------------|---------------||
                                      I’ll
                                      but if

C               G             C
  :   .   .     :   .   .     :   .   .     :   .   .
|-------------|-------------|-------------|-------------|
|-------------|-------------|-------------|-------------|
|-------------|-------------|-0-------0---|-0-----------|
|-3---2---0---|-0---2---3---|-------------|---------3---|
|-------------|-------------|-------------|-------------|
|-------------|-------------|-------------|-------------|
  you __ ride   back    and   I       am    left,   you’ll

C               G             C
  :   .   .     :   .   .     :   .   .     :   .   .
|-------------|-------------|-------------|-------------||
|-------------|-------------|-------------|-------------||
|-------------|---------0---|-0-----------|-0-----------||
|-3---2---0---|-0---2-------|-------------|-0-----------||
|-------------|-------------|-------------|-------------||
|-------------|-------------|-------------|-------------||
  do      as    much    for   me.

If you strum the chords above the tablines and at the same time emphasise the tones that are written in the tab, you ought to be able to recognize the melody. At some places, it is more clearly audible that others; for example, at the line “his voice was low in pain”, the melody is hinted at more than played. It also jumps up one octave. But when you play that, anyone who knows the melody will hear it in the accompaniment, and be amazaed at how good you are.

If we now return to the full tab, you should see that it is basically the same, only with some ornaments and rhythmical subtleties added:

  • Measure 2: If you have been a good student and learned to play G major with the fingers that are not the index finger, you should have no problem with this one. Dylan gives it an extra touch by playing it with a pull-off, the opposite of a hammer-on: striking the strings with the fingers in place, and then pulling the fingers off the strings so that the open strings produce a tone.
  • M. 3: the first tone in the measure (the open 5th string) is a stylistic mannerism: using the open string for no reason other than — that it is there to be used. The same thing happens in mm. 9 and 16.
  • M. 9 is the most complex measure in the piece, and where the advice from Jesus and St Paul comes in handy. All that happens is that the chord changes are syncopated: they occur a half-beat earlier than expected. Really, that’s all: Think of it that way, and don’t let your right hand (which otherwise is responsible for marking the chord changes) be confused by the changed roles but play as if not knowing what the left does.
    If you play it from the tab, it may require a double dosis of training: first getting the notes “right”, then unlearning the “correct” notes approach and just playing it with the syncopated feel. Perhaps, if one disregards the tab at this point and just plays it by ear instead, one might be able to skip one of the steps (I for one can’t — I’m too much of a musicologist and sheet-music reader. At points like this, I always wish I would have listened more carefully to Jesus and Paul…)
  • The middle section is in fact a sus4 passage, although it may not appear as one. Again, the chords changes don’t fall exactly where one would expect them.

Flatpicking

What I’ve presented above is the best way I could think of to present Dylan’s flatpicking method/style: going from the simple, isolating the main points (separation of bass and treble; rhythm and accompaniment; picking out or indicating melodies or bass lines); via a simplified reduction of what he is actually doing; to end up with the full “score”.

But that means that I haven’t really said anything about flatpicking, only about strumming in general.

When it comes to flatpicking more specifically, I don’t really have much to say, other than: apply the general strumming principles.

Don’t hold the pick too stiffly — you will then get a very loud tone on the string you happen to hit and not much else — but don’t get too loose either (or you will lose the pick every once in a while). Ideally, it should feel like an extension of your body, not as something you hold on to.

*

For the record:

Should you think: “what a sad character. Doesn’t he have better things to do on a Christmas Eve?”, I can inform you that I’ve just had the best Christmas Eve ever, and I’m winding down with something I happen to like doing…

Not sad at all.

Merry Christmas. :)

All the Lessons


7 thoughts on “Learn to Play the Guitar in Two Weeks, Day 8: Strumming My Gay Guitar

  1. Hi,

    according to the internet an Asus2 chord is a chord with an open 5th (base A), 2nd (sus2) and 1st (the fifth) string and 4th string pushed down on the 2nd fret (the fifth). This makes perfect sense to me. What I don’t understand is that the 3th string is supposed to be pushed down on the 1st fret. What the hell is a g# doing there?

    1. If that’s what the internet tells you, the internet is wrong (and if that’s something you have found in one of these lessons, it’s a typo, so please let me know where).
      There is a more thorough discussion of chords, including Asus2, in Lesson 12, so in all haste here: Asus2 would be played x02200: the third in the chord (which in the case of A major is on the second string) is shifted one tone down, to the open string. The g# has no business in that chord.

  2. Even with the beats represented as dots in the tab, I can’t figure out how to play those patterns without knowing where are the downstrokes and upstrokes. Wouldn’t make it easier to indicate the direction of the strum with a D for down, and U for up and a small d and u for bass strings and a B for one bass string and put them above the beats so then we could play them… Like this:

    D D UD UDUDU

    And you could add that to Dylan tabs because even when I know the chords it doesn’t sound like right at all without a proper pattern to play… I know it would waste a lot of time but that would help a lot people like me and millions of other poor guys who don’t know how to strum…

  3. When I try to pick out just the bass notes, especially just one bass note, on the downwards strum, I find I can’t keep the whole pendulem movement going – making an immediate upstroke impossible. My hand just sort pops after striking the bass outwards. Is this usual or a problem?

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