Triplets give music a stumbling feel. There are two types of triplets we'll discuss in this lesson. The quarter note triplet and the eighth note triplet. Quarter note triplets play 3 notes for every 2 quarter notes. Eighth note triplets play 3 notes for every beat. Eighth and sixteenth notes are just doubling the number of notes whereas triplets give you a subdivision divisible by 3 which is what gives the music a stumbling feel.
Most players will count triplets using the three syllables of the word triplet. Tri - pl - et. In a 4/4 measure you can fit 6 quarter note triplets or 12 eighth note triplets. To count eighth note triplets in 4/4 you could say tri - pl - et, tri - pl - et, tri - pl - et, tri - pl - et. That's 12 notes total, 3 for each beat.
The rules for triplet strumming get more complex. You have two options, maintaining alternating strum picks or following the beat with downstrokes. The first two rules remain the same as other strumming rules then you have to choose an option.
(Option 1) If the tempo is slow enough or you are playing quarter note triplets you can just play them with all downstrokes.
(Option 2) Maintain alternating strumming on the triplets.
(Option 3) Alternate strums within the triplet group but reset on each beat. This keeps a down strum on every beat helping to accent that beat but makes the strumming more complex since it's not consistently alternating.
This example shows quarter note triplets notated with the option 1 rule.
This example shows quarter note triplets notated with the option 2 rule.
This example shows quarter note triplets notated with the option 3 rule.
This example shows a D open string chord with eighth note triplets notated with the option 2 rule. These are generally played too fast to use the Option 1 rule.
This example shows a D open string chord with eighth note triplets notated with the option 3 rule.
Strumming between quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes and triplets open up a huge world of strumming options. You can spend a long time mixing and matching all of these options. This example has a quarter note and 2 eighth notes mixed with some triplets. It might look simple but the rhythms can be challenging to get right.