Bluegrass Guitar Lesson: The Boom Chuck Style & Sound with Bryan Sutton

As bluegrass guitar players, it is critical that we not only be able to perform single-note melodies, improvise, and occasionally step into the spotlight as soloists, but that we’re able to provide a harmonic and rhythmic foundation and support the rest of the ensemble through our rhythm guitar playing. In fact, in many cases, having a firm grasp of our rhythm guitar techniques can be more important than our single-note performance skills. As such, players of all skill levels should continuously practice and focus on improving their rhythm guitar playing.

In this online guitar lesson, Grammy Award-winning guitarist, ten-time IBMA “Guitar Player of the Year,” and ArtistWorks bluegrass guitar instructor, Bryan Sutton, details one of the most important and common rhythm guitar methods of the bluegrass style — an approach known as the Boom Chuck. This method is the building block on which almost all bluegrass rhythm guitar playing is built, and is an essential technique and quality of the genre.

LEARN MORE: Want to learn how to play bluegrass guitar from a master musician like Bryan Sutton? Try some free online guitar lessons now!

“The Boom Chuck sound is what we’re going to see most commonly used in strumming and what we call rhythm guitar playing in bluegrass,” Bryan explains. “I encourage you all to examine this. If you’re coming to bluegrass for the first time from other styles, this may be a fairly new concept and is important to explore. If you’ve been playing bluegrass for a long time, it never hurts to review this technique.”

The Boom Chuck rhythm guitar pattern is designed to mimic the rhythmic parts of both the upright bass and mandolin players within a bluegrass ensemble. The bass player typically plays on the first and third beats of every measure, while the mandolinist typically strums chords on beats two and four. When playing in a Boom Chuck pattern, the guitarist plays both, strumming each chord’s lowest note, or bass note, on beats one and three with the bass player, and the rest of the chord with the mandolinist on beats two and four.

“One of the reasons that the Boom Chuck rhythm guitar pattern is important is because, in the early days of bluegrass, there wasn’t a bass player,” explains Bryan. “So, it was the job of the rhythm guitar player to provide that bass note, which is what led to the development of the Boom Chuck style as it exists today.”

To learn more about the Boom Chuck pattern and how to welcome it to your rhythm guitar vocabulary, dive into this online guitar lesson from Bryan Sutton:

The Boom Chuck Style & Sound with Bryan Sutton:

This lesson is part of a series of lessons called the “Rhythm Guitar Toolbox” that Bryan recently added to his comprehensive bluegrass acoustic guitar course here at ArtistWorks. If you enjoyed this lesson, sign up for Bryan’s course, keep your momentum going, and take your flatpicking to the next level. Click here to join today.


Have you always wanted to learn how to play acoustic guitar? Through our comprehensive guitar lessons online and Video Exchange Learning platform here at ArtistWorks, you can learn from internationally renowned players, like Bryan Sutton, and get personal feedback on your playing.

Bryan’s course starts with the basics and teaches everything from beginner guitar to advanced flatpicking techniques, classic bluegrass tunes, and beyond. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, all levels are welcome and all students will grow and improve their skills as flatpick guitar players and musicians.

Try out some free sample music lessons here and see what makes ArtistWorks courses some of the best online music lessons around!



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