Song Lessons – Wicked Game by Chris Isaak (Acoustic Strumming Patterns)

Mar 2, 2024 | Learning Guitar, Online Guitar Lessons, Song Lessons | 0 comments

Having a few 3 chord songs under your belt is a great way to build up your strumming repertoire without over complicating things.   Wicked Game by Chris Isaak is a beautiful and haunting song that’s lovely to sing along to.  

We have 3 chords and 2 strumming patterns to learn today.  We are in standard tuning (EADGBe).

The Chords

Bm,  A  &  E.

If you don’t have your Bm barre chord sorted yet you can play the easier version in the second diagram.  (Don’t know how to read a chord diagram? click here).


Throughout the song we play:  Bm  |  A  |  E  |  E

The chords remain in this order for the whole song.  We need no other chords.  It almost sounds too easy doesn’t it?!

(Once we’ve mastered the strumming patterns I’ll talk to you a little bit about how we can take just 3 chords and contribute towards making such a beautiful song with our acoustic guitars).


The Strumming Pattern

The strumming pattern is where the magic happens. It’s a slow, rhythmic pattern that really drives the emotional tone of the song. 

The song is in 4/4.  The means we have 4 beats per bar.

  • Pattern #1 – (This pattern plays the Intro, Verses and the Solo section):

As in the above rhythm chart – strum down on beats 1 and 2, then strum up on the beat 3+.  If you count out loud 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and as you play this will help to get your bearings. Play the above rhythm on the Bm once, once on the A chord and two times on the E chord.  Play this round and round to practise the sequence and chord changes.

If you can already play the rhythm above, add in an extra up-strum on beat 4+ as below. This is a bit harder but more like the song.


  • Pattern #2 – (This pattern plays the Choruses):

As you can see we’ve added an extra down-strum on beat 4. This helps to develop the rhythm and energy of the song as the vocals build and the chorus adds passion. The extra strum helps to drive this.  Again, play the chords in the sequence: Bm (once), A (once), E (twice).  Play these round and round whilst counting the numbers again if you need to to get used to the sequence and changes.

Again we can add an extra up-strum on 4+ for an extra rhythmic build as in the song. (see below image).


Song Structure

Once you’re comfortable with the chords and strumming patterns, it’s time to put it all together.  

(To help read the song structure below eg  2x = 2 times round the chord sequence.  In long form this would be –  Bm (once) A (once) E (twice) Bm (once) A (once) E (twice))


Ending Sequence

The song ends by playing one single slow strum on Bm (let strings ring, then pause),  A (strings ring, then pause),  E (string ring and fade).


The feel (dynamics)

With only 3 chords repeated round and round for 4 minutes it’s important to talk about dynamics.  This is truly a beautiful song.  If we just played the chords round and round like it was a chore the song would be flat, emotionless and boring  We have to inject passion and feel into our strumming and take the song on a journey that keeps it interesting.  The way we can do this simply in the beginning is to think – the verse is quieter than the chorus so, when we first start strumming the song play the strings as quiet as possible (relaxed hand, soft strums), as the verse progresses start to build the volume (slightly harder strums, still relaxed but make the strings ring out a bit louder).  Get progressively louder (within reason, it’s a heart felt song!) as we approach the chorus.  When we reach the chorus and change our strumming pattern this is when the pressure on your strumming hand should be as loud as it would go (being respectful of the song).  When the chorus is over and we arrive at Verse 2, drop the volume back down again and repeat the journey.  Experiment with this. It gets easier once you have mastered your chord changes and rjhythms.

And there you have it – “Wicked Game” on acoustic guitar. I hope this tutorial has helped you capture the essence of this beautiful song. Remember, the key to mastering any song is patience and practice. Keep at it, and you’ll be playing “Wicked Game” like a pro in no time. 




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