In lesson two, we learned all about the basics of strumming the guitar. We added another new strum to our repertoire in lesson three. If you still aren't comfortable with the concept and execution of basic guitar strumming, it is advised that you return to those lessons and review.
Just a slight variation from the strum we learned in lesson three gives us another very common, usable strumming pattern. In fact, many guitarists actually find this pattern to be slightly easier, as there is a slight pause at the end of the bar, which can be used to switch chords.
Before you try and play the strumming pattern above, take some time to learn what it sounds like. Listen to an mp3 clip of the strumming pattern, to and try to tap along with it. Repeat this until you can tap out this pattern without thinking about it.
Once you've learned the basic rhythm of this strum, pick up your guitar and try playing the pattern while holding down a Gmajor chord. Be sure to use the exact upstrokes and downstrokes the diagram illustrates - this will make your life much easier. If you're having trouble, put down the guitar and practice saying or tapping out the rhythm again. If you don't have the correct rhythm in your head, you'll never be able to play it on guitar. Once you're comfortable with the strum, try playing along with the same pattern at a faster tempo (listen to faster tempo strum here).
Again, remember to keep the up and down strumming motion in your picking hand constant - even when you're not actually strumming the chord. Try saying out loud "down, down up, up down" (or "1, 2 and, and 4") as you're playing the pattern.
Things to Remember
- If playing an acoustic guitar, make sure to strum directly over the sound hole
- On electric guitar, strum over the body, not over the neck
- Make sure all strings are ringing clearly
- Make sure the volume of your downstrums and upstrums are equal
- Don't strum too hard, as this causes strings to rattle, and produces an undesirable sound
- Don't strum too softly, as this produces a "wimpy" sound. Your pick should be striking the strings with a relatively firm, even stroke
- Think of your elbow as being the top of a pendulum; your arm should swing up and down from it in a steady motion, never pausing at any time.
- Having said that, the bulk of the picking motion should come from a rotation of the wrist, rather than from the forearm. Be sure not to keep your wrist stiff when playing.