Coming soon from the publishers of Acoustic Guitar magazine

Beyond Strumming
The complete guide to creating dynamic accompaniment parts in any setting
By Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers

Available April 2018 as a book or a downloadable guide, with complete notation and video instruction

Plus: Learn firsthand from JPR in these Beyond Strumming workshops.

From the introduction

No doubt, strumming is a potent technique on the guitar—it’s a quick and natural motion, it cuts through, and it adds a percussive punch along with the chord. All you need are a few chord shapes and a simple strum pattern and, boom, you can start playing songs. That accessibility is one of the beauties of the guitar.

Over time, though, the limitations of strumming as your go-to accompaniment technique become apparent. The fact that strumming is easy to do also makes it easy to overdo. Banging out thick chords throughout a song can overwhelm the vocal and actually mask the rhythmic feel. Strong melodies, lyrics, and grooves need breathing room, and songs also need contrast. Strumming at full blast throughout a song, and especially doing so in song after song in performance, will wear out everyone’s ears—plus it gives you nowhere to go, in terms of volume and intensity, but down.

The good news is that all sorts of sounds and textures for accompaniment are, literally, close at hand. With a little more attention to your fretting and picking hand technique, you can go beyond constant strumming and create guitar parts that are more dynamic, supple, and nuanced, both harmonically and rhythmically. That’s the goal of this guide: to expand your accompaniment toolkit so you can not only vary the guitar part within a song, but change up the sound from song to song and keep them from blurring together.

When you’re the only instrumentalist accompanying your own voice or another singer, your guitar is essentially the band. Beyond Strumming aims to help you become a more versatile band—and, most importantly, make the songs shine.

What you’ll learn

The Beyond Strumming book/video series features 20 multimedia lessons:

  • Developing Bass Lines
  • Muting
  • Power Chords
  • Sus Chord Embellishments
  • Percussive Grooves
  • Rock Rhythm
  • Dropped-D Tuning
  • Accompanying a Waltz
  • Arranging with a Capo
Explore New Sounds
  • Cross-Picking Accompaniment
  • Flatpicking Fills
  • Melodic Riffs
  • Hybrid Picking
  • Pianistic Picking
  • Open-String Chords up the Neck
  • Movable Shapes without the Barre
  • Dropped D in Other Keys
  • Low-Bass Tunings
  • Partial Capoing


About the author

Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers

Photo by Genevieve Fridley

Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers has combined his twin passions for words and music into a multifaceted career as a musician, author, and teacher.

A grand prize winner in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, Rodgers performs original folk rock with masterful band-in-a-box accompaniment on acoustic guitar. He has released five solo albums, plus a best-selling Homespun video series teaching his acoustic arrangements of Grateful Dead songs.

Rodgers is also the founding editor of Acoustic Guitar magazine and a contributor to NPR’s All Things Considered. His books include Rock Troubadours; featuring his interviews with such artists as Jerry Garcia, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, and Dave Matthews; and The Complete Singer-Songwriter, recently published by Backbeat Books in an expanded second edition.

A “renowned guitar teacher” (Boston Globe), Rodgers leads workshops on guitar and songwriting, and teaches courses on songwriting and creative nonfiction writing in the honors program at Syracuse University.