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.

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