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Strumming Guitar: The Boom Chuck Beat

The boom-chuck beat is one of the first rhythms guitarists learn. You can play many folk and country songs in this style. The first example below is a standard example and begins with a bass note on the root of the C chord (the “boom”) followed by the rest of the chord (the “chuck”). The second bass note is a G (the fifth of the C chord) and is again followed by the rest of the chord. This figure is called an alternating bass, and it tends to sound better if the fifth is played below the root rather than above it. However,certain chord voicings won’t allow you to achieve this. It’s usually best to play the “booms” and the “chucks” with downstrokes. When playing at faster tempos, try making the “chuck” staccato, which is a rapid, brief, clip in sound, by lifting your fingers off the chord just after you play it. At slower tempos, you can let it ring.