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Strumming the Guitar
Topic: For Beginners Subtopic: General Level: Beginner Number of Readers: 72922

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Strumming

Strumming is important for playing songs using open chords. Genres of guitar music that use open chords extensively include folk, country, bluegrass and many others.

To strum, you'll have to know how to hold the plectrum, also called the pick. The most popular way to hold the pick is in-between your thumb and index finger. Some people use their thumb and middle finger, or other combinations. Most people use the pointy side of the pick facing the strings, but others like the rounded side to face the strings. Really, it's whatever feels most comfortable for you. Try a couple of methods, and see which one you like the best.

Don't worry about your left hand for now. Just use your right hand to strum all the open strings in a downward motion. Did you manage to hit all the strings and make them all sound? If you are getting too much resistance from the strings, you'll probably want to relax your grip on the pick a bit. You don't have to hold it very tight.

Strumming in a downward motion(towards the ground) is called a 'downstroke'. Practice some downstrokes using the six open strings. Keep your grip on the pick relaxed. Also, keep your wrist relaxed, it's not supposed to be locked. The motion should originate from your forearm.

Strumming in an upward motion is called an 'upstroke'. Practice some upstrokes, keeping in mind the points I just gave you. You'll probably find out that the two strokes feel very different.

Now practice alternating downstrokes and upstrokes(downstroke upstroke downstroke...). If you can do this well, you've reached the first step in rhythm. Try to feel an underlying beat to your strumming.

Instead of strumming the open strings, you'll want to strum some chords now, maybe some of the ones we learned in our last lesson.

A Major
xo---o
......
..123.
...... 

Try strumming this chord. Remember, you're not aloud to hit the sixth string. You might be thinking to your self, "When I'm playing really fast, how am I ever going to manage not to hit that string?" Don't worry, it seems like an impossibility but it's really not that hard. For now, just go nice and slow.

Strum this chord using only upstrokes, then using only downstrokes, then alternating up strokes and downstrokes. Practice this with some of the other chords we've learned:

D Major		C Major		G Major		E Major
xxo---		x--o-o		--ooo-		o---oo
......		....1.		......		...1..
...1.3		..2...		.1....		.23...
....2.		.3....		2....3		......
......		......		......		...... 

Notice that I've thrown in a new chord, the chord of E Major. You'll probably like the chords that use all six strings. First of all, they're easier to strum, because you don't have to worry about skipping over strings, and they also sound richer.

Practice strumming these chords, because in the next lesson we're going to be putting them together.

Things to remember from this lesson:

1. Hold the pick in a relaxed and comfortable grip.
2. Let the strumming motion originate from the forearm.
3. A downstroke is the motion of strumming towards the ground, and an upstroke is the opposite.
4. Chords that require you to skip strings aren't really as impossible as they seem.



Questions
Question posted by Fred Parker on 1999-11-13
Could you please give me some strumming patters. Thank you very much !!!!
There are 7 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Jane Smith on 1999-11-29
I know some guitarists strum with their fingers. Can you show some techniques for that?
There are 5 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Jennifer on 1999-12-17
I have a twenty year old acoustic guitar and a semi new Fender Electric guitar. Do guitars ever go bad? And witch one will be easier to start with? jen
There are 15 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by |ife`qWest on 2000-05-13
My guitar is actually my dad's guitar bought years ago and is supposed to be a steel string guitar. When I wanted started to take guitar lessons around 9 mths ago, my dad had to change the steel strings, 'cos 1 of them had snapped and the rest were all wearing off. He changed the steel strings to nylon strings. My question is that is there a difference in putting nylon strings on an actual steel string guitar?
There are 4 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Jarrod on 2000-05-28
I can't seem to get all my figers to fit on the 2nd fret like in the A Major chord. Do you have any suggestions?
There are 9 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by niki on 2000-06-13
when i play a chord i get a buzzing noise. what is it from and how do i fix it.
There are 10 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by doc on 2000-06-14
should you strum power chords?
There are 5 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Darrell Baggs on 2000-06-21
I am teaching a friend how to play guitar. She knows a few basic chords but doesn't know how to strum or change chords fast enough. Do you have any suggestions because I find it really difficult to explain. Thank you. Darrell
There are 5 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Michael on 2000-06-26
I'm having trouble playing notes. Well, actually its not the note itself giving me problems its my fingers. When I switch between strings, I have a hard time landing in the right place. I always over-shoot the distance between strings so I can't play the correct note. Any suggestions?
There are 1 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Jason on 2000-07-07
what is the best way to play a B major?
There are 5 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by fgh on 2000-07-21
strum-strum up your bum...if you can't strum stick the guitar up your???
There are 7 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Sophie on 2000-08-24
My friend said I strum like I'm playing church music. What does he mean? What am I doing wrong???
There are 8 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Peter on 2000-08-27
Can someone please e-mail to me the way to strum 3/4 time? baylor2@aol.com
There are 2 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Hil on 2000-09-13
KAY. My electric guitar has these stupid little hollow screws that keep coming out. They are down by the stings at the body of the guitar close to the springs. HOW THE HELL DO I STOP THEM FROM COMING OUT?? they get loose and then they make a nasty buzzing noice and it's driving me crazy.
There are 5 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Zoe Radies on 2000-09-16
I have always strummed slowly, and it seems like my strumming has a kind of folk rythym to it. Now, because I just kind of picked a guitar up and taught myself, I don't know much theory. But now I'm starting to get into more hard rock tunes and want to pick my rythym up a bit. I've seen someone strum fast and it sounded really good. I just tried and it sounded pitiful. Is there a right way to do it? Or are there many different strumming patterns to choose from?
There are 1 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Zoe Radies on 2000-09-16
I looked farther into the lessons and answered my own question (above). I'll try the constant arm motion...I think it will work. Thanks...great lessons!
There are 1 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Zoe Radies on 2000-09-16
I looked farther into the lessons and answered my own question (above). I'll try the constant arm motion...I think it will work. Thanks...great lessons!
There are 0 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by John on 2000-09-28
I can form cords without problem, but my strumming sucks. I never took lessons but I have played for several years. I want to learn how to strum with rythem like Dave Matthews and Bod Dylan, or even Tom Petty. Any suggestions?
There are 3 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Carrie on 2000-10-01
I really want to learn to play the guitar and I have a really busy schedule. What is the easiest way to start out the basics?
There are 1 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by dena on 2000-10-07
What do the x's and o's mean? Do you always only hit the bottom 5 strings, or does some "strumming" require you hit less strings?
There are 2 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Martin on 2000-11-12
I want to know the used chords but also solos (fast ones). Are there some good books for beginners?
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Question posted by Damage on 2000-11-20
ihavetroulewakiadplayimyuitaratthesametime
There are 2 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by 69er on 2001-01-12
is it supposed to be so hard to position your hands for a D major?
There are 1 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Bozo on 2001-01-23
I can stroke my carrot but have trouble strummin the guitar, any suggestions ?
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Question posted by JOHN DEMPSEY on 2001-04-23
I have been playin for ages but have real trouble when it comes to palm mutes can anyone help me out . Thanx in advance.
There are 1 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by ler on 2001-04-27
im trying to teach myself some ska punk, but im haveing prodlems comeing up with some ska strums.could any one possible help?
There are 1 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Eddie Kopex on 2001-05-05
I have been playing for about 4 months now and consider myself right at the top with the best. I cant get any better, Any suggestions as to where I should go now ?
There are 5 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Aaron on 2001-06-10
What chords are used in the key of B?
There are 2 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Erin on 2001-07-12
How do you play the C/A# chord?
There are 4 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Unknown on 2001-07-20
how do you read tabs?
There are 1 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Jasmine on 2001-11-29
Does learning the strumming patters is enough to handle all the different chords? Is there any different moment of stroking for each chord?
There are 0 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Unknown on 2001-11-29
whats cords go good with F
There are 1 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Gizmo on 2001-12-04
On three chords is it to have each in place before executing scale ?
There are 0 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by duke on 2001-12-13
cant seem to get going. what is the best way to start with electric, scales or WHAT somebody help!!!!
There are 0 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by greezel echalar on 2002-03-13
can you give me some patterns in plucking the guitar
There are 1 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by greezel echalar on 2002-03-13
can you give me some patterns in plucking the guitar
There are 2 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Unknown on 2003-06-03
I am trying to learn guitar (acoustic. Am I too old at 60? and my hands are quite small so cannot seen to reach some chords (C and G for example) very easy. Should I pack it in or change to a Mandolin? Brian
There are 2 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by ardalan on 2003-08-11
hi,i have two problems at first is x and o simbols that u said is for sturmming or it is for chords? i mean we should sturm just o strings whit pick and if we do it what we should do with the other strings that they are not x or o? and the other is when we want sturm downstorke we should sturme strings one by one or all of them to gether?
There are 1 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Mohsen Nicksiar on 2003-11-10
Could you tell me how to play 4/4 Samba?
There are 1 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Joyo on 2004-01-02
Hi, everyone! Maybe someone knows some other site where to find strumming patterns? Thankssssssssssss a lottttttttttt!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Question posted by realguy on 2004-02-14
peace and love to all people.
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Question posted by Unknown on 2004-06-21
can i get the lessons in a more simplified form
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Question posted by joe on 2004-07-28
Does anyone come on this website any more
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Question posted by Bob on 2004-07-30
Why does david smell? ha ha ha
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Question posted by rod on 2004-07-30
i have a sick obsession with horses any recomendations
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Question posted by Mr E. Roused on 2004-07-30
I think some of the people using this website r just childish
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Question posted by Ben on 2005-03-10
can anyone tell me how to hold, play, and other teqniques to play it please answer. ben
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Question posted by shahimardan on 2005-05-29
I want to learn strumming with left hand without pick...is there any information about
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Question posted by Unknown on 2006-06-28
where do you put your guitar after playing it in the morning? love ya xoxoxo thanx
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Question posted by Unknown on 2006-06-28
im sorry but i would love to play the guitar but im afraid my fingers are too fat and chunky. can i have some advice please? it would give me great plesure to play the guitar and please my father so he doesnt hit me!
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