Alton Ellis – Rock Steady

Alton Ellis – Rock Steady

I’m not a fan of all music that has come out of Jamaica, but I love rocksteady. So I was sad to hear of the death of the ‘Godfather of Rocksteady’ Alton Ellis last month.

The chords and strumming pattern for Rocksteady are fairly simple. The strumming is just down on every off-beat (1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and).

The biggest challenge is to make sure you keep the strums short and sharp. There are a couple of parts to this. Once you’ve strummed the chord, release your fretting hand. This will stop the fretted notes. You can use this technique alone if you use chord shapes where all the strings are fretted such as this inversion for A minor.

The second part is do dampen the strings with your strumming hand just after playing the chord. I do it by carrying the strum though and bringing the palm of my hand to rest on the strings.

For a bit of variation on the chords, I really like the sound of Dm7 and Em7 in this progression.

View Comments


  1. André October 30th, 2008 11:14 pm

    Thanks for this :)
    Alton will be missed.

  2. Nelson October 31st, 2008 2:27 pm

    Thanks for that, man.
    A legend.

  3. Woodshed October 31st, 2008 7:44 pm

    Andre and Nelson: You’re both welcome. I’m a little ashamed it took me so long to get round to. I didn’t even find out he’d died until quite a while after.

  4. Derrick December 10th, 2011 6:15 am

    I love ukulele hunt.

  5. Woodshed December 10th, 2011 1:43 pm

    Derrick: Thanks!

  6. Nick July 31st, 2013 9:33 am

    Hum the video is dead and the representation of the chords is not = to whats writeten underneath

    Really good website UkeleleHunt thank you !

  7. Rudy December 18th, 2014 3:48 am

    Reggae on the uke sounds so sweet. Gonna love doing this. thanks

  8. Woodshed December 18th, 2014 11:56 am

    Rudy: Thanks! Glad you like it.

Sorry, Comments Are Broken Right Now