Making up reggae songs on the guitar is pretty easy once you know the basics.
This web page builds on what you learned on these web pages (listed on the left): The Secret and Tired of Playing The Same Old Songs? Make Up Songs. If you're a complete beginner you might want to check out Guitar Basics.
The Secret is in Your Strumming
Playing reggae is all about the way you strum the strings and your strumming pattern.
You only need to know two things:
1. Don’t let the chords ring out, dampen them.
Keep each chord from ringing out by muting the strings with the palm of your strumming hand. This makes that “chk” sound you hear in reggae songs. Or if you know how to play bar chords, once you strum the chords immediately let the pressure off the strings with your left hand (if you're right handed). If you're playing an electric guitar, you can just touch the strings without pushing them down while keeping you fingers in the bar chord shape. This makes a really cool sound. You can make an even cooler sound if do this while pushing a wah wah pedal down and up while strumming. Strum down up, down up, down up, "whahka, whahka, whaka."
2. Strum on the off-beats, 2 and 4.
Tap your foot 1, 2, 3, 4 and only strum on beats 2 and 4. Notice that there are only strumming strokes on beats 2 and 4 in the sample song.
The following sample song uses chords from the key of G below.