How To Get Better At Strumming Patterns

rhona our guitar student performing guitar

Do you want to make your strumming sound better and more interesting on the guitar?

Do all your songs sound the same, or do you struggle to get your strumming to sound like the song at all?

This problem that you are having is very common and one I often get asked by students.

They say to me “How can I get better at strumming patterns?” or “Can you teach me more strumming patterns” on the guitar.

Most of the students who are struggling with this problem want the songs they play to sound better. And are sick of playing one chord at a time. Or they have one or two strumming pattern which they use for every song, so everything sounds the same.

They then diagnose the problem as not knowing enough strumming patterns. If this sounds like you – I can help you.

The first step is to acknowledge what your real goal is here.

Do you want to collect more strumming patterns?

Or do you want to make your rhythm guitar playing sound better?

If you want to go and collect strumming patterns, in that case, learning strumming patterns is the way to go. But that path will likely lead to you having to go and learn a new strumming pattern for every song that you go and learn. This requires a lot of effort to play each individual different strumming patterns. Because you’ll be only looking at the rhythm for each individual song you work on.

A better way to solve that problem would be training on your own ability to master rhythm playing on the guitar. Then you can pick up any strumming patterns based on what you want to play at any given time.

Try this simple exercise below.

Basic rhythm pattern:

BEAT 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
Strumming Down Up Down Up Down Up Down Up
  1. Begin by muting your guitar strings with your fretting hand (so that we don’t get lots of extra noise.
  2. Strum down and up with your right hand while also SAYING out loud the beat numbers at the same time.
    1. You should sound like this “One And Two And Three And Four And”
    2. All the beats should be evenly spaced in time. No gaps should be longer than another.
    3. Note how when you are on a 1,2,3 or 4 your arm is ALWAYS making a downward strum
    4. When you are on the “Ands’ or the ‘+’ you are always playing an up strum.

Pattern 2:

Now we are going to start learning how to play more interesting strumming patterns:

To create a new strumming pattern, all I need to do is remove downs or ups from the strumming key line.

BEAT 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
Strumming Key Down Up Down Up Down Up Down Up
Pattern 1 Down Down Up Down Up
Pattern 2 Down Down Down Up Down

I have put two examples here labelled pattern 1 and 2.

Make sure when you make up your own strumming patterns using the method above that you make sure that the Downs and Ups are in the right place.

Down always on 1 2 3 4

Up always on And (+)

When you practice it, you need to always be moving your hand as if it was playing down and up all the time.

Can you see how on patterns 1 AND 2 there is nothing on the AND (+) after the 1. Even though you don’t strum through the strings here, your hand is still going to move upwards – but it will do so without hitting the strings.

Creating Your Own Strumming Patterns

Practise doing this with new strumming patterns that you create for yourself, so your arm is used to moving in this motion, then it will become easier for you to learn any new strumming patterns that come across your way!

This is a great simple exercise to get you started working on your rhythm work, which will make a huge difference to your guitar playing.

If you are based in London and would like some more guidance and direction on how to improve your guitar playing. Contact us via the link below to find out how we can help you with your guitar playing so that you can master rhythm guitar playing and anything else you are after much quicker and easier.

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