New! Learn firsthand from JPR in the Beyond Strumming online course. Get the details.
Learn to create dynamic accompaniment parts in any setting
A great resource for people looking to play songs in new ways, Beyond Strumming provides guitarists with a useful toolbox of accompaniment techniques in a methodical and clear format.Chris Eldridge (Punch Brothers)
"You don’t need to be a virtuoso to play interesting guitar parts or accompany your songs in a more compelling way. I spent years dead reckoning my way to some of these approaches that Jeffrey lays out clearly in these pages. I wish this book had existed when I was learning how to play guitar.”—Mark Erelli
"Well, as I suspected, Jeffrey is going to put us all out of work with this book! The tricks we've held as trade secrets will now be as ubiquitous as reverb."—Willy Porter
"Jeffrey is a great guitar player. Sensitive and strong, and makes it look deceptively easy."—Dan Bern
What you'll learn
The Beyond Strumming book/video series features 20 multimedia lessons with exercises and songs to play.
- Less Is More
- Developing Bass Lines
- 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
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.
About the author
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 The Complete Singer-Songwriter, recently published by Backbeat Books in an expanded second edition, which includes advice and anecdotes from his firsthand interviews with artists such as Joni Mitchell, John Mayer, Paul Simon, Ani DiFranco, James Taylor, John Fogerty, Jason Mraz, and Jerry Garcia.
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.