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A Guide for Beginners - Strumming

Christopher Sung (9641) · [archive]
Style: Basics · Level: Beginner · Tempo: 90
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6

One of the hardest aspects of playing the guitar when you first start out is strumming. A lot of people assume that it has everything to do with getting your strumming hand to become comfortable and fluid, but how you use your fretting hand is equally important. In each example in this lesson, we'll explore a different one-bar strumming pattern that you can adapt and apply to tunes that you like to play. There are a few things I want you to keep mind while you're learning and playing these examples:
  • Keep your strumming hand very loose
  • Always strum with a down and up motion, as if you're shaking your hand up and down like you're trying to loosen it up
  • When you see a muted chord (denoted by notes with an "x" through them), take the pressure off the notes that you are fretting, and strum it. You should hear just a "chuck", and no notes should ring. If there are open strings, you may need to use one of your non-fretting fingers to block them out. Alternatively, you can just take your hand, lay it lightly across all 6 strings, and strum.
The "chuck" is one of the most important parts of strumming, because this helps you imitate some kind of percussion, along with your regular strums. Try to get comfortable with fretting a particular chord (in this case, an A major chord), then getting your hand in place for the "chuck", and then getting it back into position to fret the A chord. The faster you can do this with your fretting hand, while keeping your strumming hand moving at the same time, the better your strumming will sound. In the example below, set your loop count to "Forever" and try to strum along. The basic pattern looks like this:
If it's a struggle, slow down the tempo and re-play it. If it feels good, include just the groove in the playback and play along with just the groove. Try increasing the tempo if everything's cool.
A Guide for Beginners - Strumming