Lesson #1: Body Percussion


Hello and welcome, in this lesson we will focus on transforming our guitar into a percussive drum kit! Let’s start by finding the sweet spot, use your fingertips and your palm and hit your guitar at different locations on the body. Your palm creates a rather deep tone like the sound of a bass drum, while tapping the guitar with your fingers creates a higher pitched tone that sounds more like a snare drum. If you like, you can even use your fingernails for a sharper sound.

Every guitar sounds a bit different so take some time to find the spots that sound the best. My favorite spots for the bass drum are found near sound hole and lower body and below sound hold and lower back for the snare.

As well, I will introduce to you a new percussive sound, the hi-hat which is rather high but not as dominant as the snare. We can emulate this sound by tapping the wrist on muted strings or by hitting the strings with the fingers of our left hand. Rest your index finger on the strings so that they are muted and hit the strings with the middle, ring and little finger. If you like, you can try doing snare hits with only one finger. Like with the other percussive sounds, make sure you move up and down the fretboard to find the best sounding location on your guitar.

This movement feels rather unusual and is definitely difficult at first, but it is a good exercise to learn how create a beat with both hands.

Beat #1

Beat 1

So what are we doing here? We are playing the bass on ‘1’, ‘3’ and ‘3+’, the snare on the ‘2’ and ‘4’, and in between on the off beats, the hi-hat.

Try playing the bass and snare drum on different locations on the guitar to find location you like and let’s play this beat together!

Beat #2

Beat 2

Now it’ll get more difficult. In this exercise, we are adding more hi-hat to the same riff and count in sixteenth notes instead of eighth notes. The bass and snare hits remain on the ‘1’, ‘3’ and ‘3+’ and on ‘2’ and on ‘4’. All the remaining counts are filled with hi-hat hits that we play in turn with our left hand and the palm of our right hand that will hit the muted strings.

I’ll play it slowly once to show you how to count it. Give it some time, once you feel ready let’s play it together. Try getting used to playing beats on your guitar to find your groove. You can find more exercises to drum your guitar in my first percussive fingerstyle lesson for beginners.

(The links I mentioned in the video are not available in this preview)