October 3

How to Play Three Little Birds (Bob Marley) on Guitar

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Today you're going to learn how to play "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley and the Wailers. It's not too hard of a song to learn and I've included a play-along track towards the end.

We're going to use three open songs here - A, D, and E - and I'll assume you know how to play them. There are two different strumming patterns you'll learn. These are both actually covered in my Reggae Strum video. It's a quick video and worth a watch to really get the strum down. I'll quickly go over it here.

The Simple Reggae Strum

The Reggae rhythm structure accents the off beats. In most popular music the 1 and 3 beats get the accent. You can think about the 1 as the kick drum and the 3 as the snare. It would look like this, if you were counting 1-2-3-4:

*kick*-2-*snare*-4 

*kick*-2-*snare*-4 

But Reggae has accents on the 2 and 4. The drums are still using the above rhythm, but the rest of the band, including the guitar, accents the 2 and 4. Kind of like this:

1-*strum*-3-*strum*

1-*strum*-3-*strum*

To help get the Reggae vibe you'll choke the chords after you play them. They wont ring out much, if at all. On the 2 beat you'll actually strum twice, but the feel stays the same.

Jump to 2:00 in this video to hear the strum pattern. 

The Bass Note Reggae Strum

This version is at 2:51 in the video here, and is covered in much deeper detail in the Reggae Strum video.

To do this version of a Reggae strum, start with the simple Reggae strum. We'll build off of it. The bass note Reggae strum adds a bass note to the 1 and the 3 beats.

  • The bass note for the A chord is the open 5th string.
  • The bass note for the D chord is the open 4th string.
  • The bass note for the E chord is the open 6th string.

Make sure the bass notes are muted and the strums are not. This is actually a great exercise to work on muted notes. 

Before you move on to the play-along track, practice both strums for a few minutes. If the bass note strum is too complicated right now then stick to the simple Reggae strum. You can always come back to the bass note Reggae strum.

Reading The Music

At 3:36 in this video I'll show you how to read the music for this. Don't get too hung up on this if it doesn't make sense. Use your ears to hear what I'm playing and play along. 

The play-along track is at a slow tempo and starts at 7:15. 

Play through this a few times and have fun with it! Once you can get the feel and rhythm in your head it becomes much easier for your hands to follow along. 


Thanks for joining me today! If you enjoyed this and want to see more lessons where you learn a song, head over to Real Guitar Success. There are a lot more lessons like this, and way more!

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