December 11, 2023

How to Play Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke on Guitar

When I was in Edinburgh in 2013, the biggest song to party to was ‘Blurred Lines’ by Robin Thicke. Such a simple yet effective song to put a smile on ya dial and get you moving. We would finish a gig and all be on the bus getting geared up to go out and cause mischief. We would crank it up on the bus and get our party game face on.

So, why should you learn how to play Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke on guitar? Well, the song lesson was more for a laugh, but it actually has a few valuable technical tricks and ideas in it as you’ll see.

The Strum

It’s what I would call a ‘Reggae Strum’ and it takes a little getting used to. Normally you can just do ‘up’ strokes continuously, and you get the reggae strum. However when you’re playing alone (without a band)… you have nobody playing the main ‘One’ beat. So normally the reggae groove would be like this:

1&2&3&4&(Reggae guitar Up strokes only)
DUDUDUDU(Reggae guitar & strokes only)

So the guitarists job was to play the Up strokes only. They would be short and sharp too.

But when you don’t have someone to play the Down strokes (1 2 3 4)…the audience has a hard time dancing and knowing where the beat is. They usually end up thinking the up is the beat…mostly us white dudes hahaha.

So, how do we get around this as a solo guitarist?

First we need to understand my terms. Here’s a list of symbols and meanings so we can do this easily.

(D) = Down
(U) = Up
(B) = Bass note
© = Chord
(#) = Muted strings percussive sound.

The strum is a simple continuous ‘Tic-toc’ pattern:


The Groove looks more like this:


Start really slowly and intentionally robotic. Then as it gets programmed (after 20x at least) you’ll be able to gradually speed it up and the strum will appear.

This works really well for ‘Barre chords’ because you can release the tension from the chord easily. That makes the ‘percussive muted stringed up stroke’ effortless…well sort of

Reggae strum it Guitar Freaks!!!

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