How to Strum A Guitar – ABC of Guitar Struming

Strumming a guitar is one of the most difficult parts of learning the to play the guitar. It can take a lot of practice. And while you might want to dive into playing "Stairway to Heaven",it is much more important to know how to strum a guitar perfectly.

Because it seems more exciting, it's still very important to focus on your right hand as much as your left hand. So even if you're bored, remember, the payoff is worth it!

What is Guitar Strumming?

​Strumming a guitar is simply applying pressure to the strings in order to create sound by vibrating the strings. You can do it with a pick or fingers, but we will start practicing with a the triangular shaped pick you can get affordably at any music store or online store.

You can strum by plucking the string with your finger to create a sound while you tune your guitar. But the purpose of strumming here is simply to create a great technique that can replicate some of your favorite music in the world.

​How to Strum a Guitar

​So when strumming, it's important to remember that there are a few basic ways to do it that will enable you to grow beyond the basics over time. Start with this method. Take your fretting hand and lay it lightly on the strings so there is a muted sound, as light as a feather. We don't want chords right now.Now simply hit the strings downward over and over again at 60 beats per minute on your metronome.

progressive patterns guitar strumming

​There are some basic guitar strumming patterns you will want to know, as we discussed earlier. These are progressive patterns; each one builds on the other. But if you learn these patterns, you can play almost any song you want to play in the guitar world.

It is similar to learning scales and chords in your left hand; you must learn these basic building blocks in order to be able to strum effectively for the rest of your guitar playing adventures.

​Keep the chords simple, like only strumming an E chord to focus on the strumming patterns alone. All of the strumming patterns for this are in eighth note patterns. So instead of counting beats, "1-2-3-4" you will count and strum, "1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &" so that there are eight total strums in each set.

​Different Strumming Patterns

​The first is all down stroke pattern. Stroke down on all eight strokes. Get a metronome and set it at 60 and strum down over and over for even spacing. This will help greatly with timing.

Don't forget dynamic control, which simply means getting louder and softer while you practice. This way you can practice avoiding getting faster when you are playing louder and slower when you are playing softer.

The second stroke pattern

​The second stroke pattern is the same rhythm of eight eighth notes, but we will down stroke on "1-2-3-4" and we will up stroke on the "ands" (1&2&3&4&).Don't lock your wrists, and follow the same metronome temper of 60 beats per minute while stroking "down-up-down-up-down-up-down-up". In this case, you can practice accenting beats 2 and 4 in order to emphasize those beats, like they would in a rock and roll song.

​The third stroke pattern to practice is very similar, but stylistically we will do a muted strum. This means we sound more like a drum. A muted strum involves letting off the pressure on your strings a little bit. And hit the guitar while muting the strings.

Think "I would walk five hundred miles..." or "Creedence Clearwater Revival". In this case we do up-down-up-down with the same eighth note pattern, but on the down stroke of 2 and 4 you will use the muted pattern.

​Constant Strumming

​Believe it or not, the constant strumming technique has used by you already! So now, practice by playing down-up-down-up without playing on the "and" of 1 and 3. In other words, strum like this: "down - skip-down-up-down-skip-down-up".

down - skip-down-up-down-skip-down-up

​Now we have gaps in the strumming, and this helps with strumming pattern number 4. This is sometimes called the ballad strumming pattern. Now we leave out the down stroke on 3, so that it gives a feel of driving towards beat one of the next set. For example, down-up-down-up-skip-up-down-up.

In this pattern there's a balance of holding the pick hard enough to keep a hold of it. But not so hard that you don't get the relaxed feel that you need. Then you can also play with how stiff yo keep your wrist for different sounds and volumes.


​Once you have mastered these stroke patterns, then begin to add chords, such as E-A-E-B to practice with left and right hand at the same time. You will surprise how adding the left hand can trip you up on a strum you had perfectly before. This is expected. Continue to practice with the easiest chord progressions you can find, so that your focus is on the strumming.

Of course, remember when practicing your left hand, it's ok to let the right hand get a little lazy while you focus on chord progressions. But make time in every practice session (at least 30 minutes per day) to put it all together. And have right hand and left hand functioning in perfect harmony - no pun intended!

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