Playing Rhythm Guitar: Basics Part 4 – Understanding Quarter Notes


In the Rhythm Guitar Basics Parts 1-3 tutorials, we looked at whole notes and half notes and basic strumming patterns on the guitar.

In this tutorial, we turn our attention to the quarter note.

The Quarter Note

The quarter note receives one beat in 4/4 time.

Here is what a quarter notes look like in standard notation:

Quarter note in standard notation

Now here are quarter notes written in rhythmic notation:

Quarter note in rhythmic notation

Whether quarter notes are written in standard notation, or rhythmic notation they are counted the same way…

Counting quarter notes

A quarter note is sustained for one beat in 4/4 time.

Now it’s time to get clapping…

Turn your metronome on to 60 beats per minute and clap the rhythm that follows..

Key Points to Remember

  1. Count out loud as clap.
  2. Tap your foot on the beat with the metronome.
  3. Be sure to keep a consistent tempo.

Quarter note ex. 1

Now let’s apply it to the guitar…

For this example we will use G, C and D major chords.

left hand guitar fingering indications

G C D with fingerings

Quarter notes are usually performed with down-strokes, so play the following with down-strokes.

G C D strumming pattern quarter notes

Now it’s time to mix things up a bit. The following strumming pattern uses quarter, half and whole notes.

As you will recall from the previous basic rhythm guitar tutorials, whole notes and half notes are usually performed with down-strokes.

So use only down-strokes for this rhythm guitar strumming exercise.  But, before we play the chords, I’d like you to clap the rhythm and count out loud.

Be sure to tap your foot with the metronome.

As you will recall from our previous tutorials, you should tap your foot with each click of the metronome.

Here’s the new rhythm pattern:

G C D strumming pattern with quarter half and whole notes

Once you’ve clapped the rhythm at least three times, play it with chords…

G C D strumming pattern with quarter half and whole notes w diagrams

So how did you do?

You should now create some different rhythm patterns using whole, half and quarter notes.

The more you practice different strumming patterns, the easier they become.

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