All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
All the material contained in this book is provided for educational and informational purposes only. No responsibility can be taken for any results or outcomes resulting from the use of this material.
While every attempt has been made to provide information that is both accurate and effective, the author does not assume any responsibility for the accuracy or use/misuse of this information.
Sign up to my blog at Guitar Domination by clicking to receive a free eBook and plenty of exclusive free content.
* The Common Mistakes Nearly Everyone Makes…Especially When Starting Out 5*
Sub Divisions Explained 15
Get in the Groove 20
Keep On Moving 24
Simple Strums 28
The Constant Pulse Strum 28
The Ballad Strum 29
Super Flexible Strums 30
The Piano Strum 30
The Ultimate Strum 31
Bass Note Strums 32
The Country Strum 32
The Groove Strum 33
16th Note Strums 34
The Modern Strum 34
The Pop Rock Strum 35
Swinging Your Strums 36
Power Dynamics 39
Strumming Glossary 41
Strumming is something I often call a `dark art`. The reason why is – it is something that nearly every guitarist can do to a certain degree, but it is also something that only can a fraction can do to a high standard.
Strumming is deceptive. It is not a case of fretting a chord and bashing down on the strings. There are so many subtle elements that make a good strum.
These include but are not limited to, rhythm, strumming patterns, straight or swing feel, fluency of sub-divisions, dynamics, arm and wrist technique, the ability to switch between patterns, keeping good time and much more.
All of the above and plenty more you will learn and master during this course.
Most guitarists are not taught the proper ways to strum, they lack technique, they don`t understand rhythm and worst of all they don`t know that this is holding them back.
This all leads to a LOT of wasted years with the guitar and a lack of confidence when they are playing and strumming the thing.
It doesn`t matter if you are a pop guitarist or a metal guitarist, at some point you are going to want to strum the guitar.
Ask yourself, how many exact strum patterns do you actually know how to play?
In my experience of teaching beginners, intermediates (and even some players who would otherwise be experts) is that hardly any know how to strum like a pro.
What I would like you to do is stop reading for a second, pick up your guitar and play me your favourite 5 strum patterns.
Then come back and read the rest.
Were you able to or did your mind go blank?
There is nothing wrong if it did, you just haven`t been made aware of the importance of being able to call on a variety of different strum patterns at will.
How great would it be if you were able to strum a certain pattern on your guitar at any given moment – and one that relates to the exact feel you are after.
Most guitarists can do this stuff with chords i.e. they can play minor chords for when they want to hear sadder sounding music, or major 7th chords for a jazz feel…
They can`t do this with strum patterns, and to be honest the rhythm is often more important than the chords!
That being said, it is relatively simple for most guitarists with even just a bit of playing experience to learn specific strum patterns, practice them, and be able to call on them at will when a certain song or style requires it.
Not only will it make you a better sounding player, your understanding of rhythm will improve, your timing will improve and your ability to create stunning rhythm parts of your own will increase dramatically!
Many guitarists dream of becoming a session musician and why not?
It is possible.
To do so though, you will need a big repertoire of strum patterns to call on.
Check your strumming regularly by ensuring you are not making the following super common mistakes as described in the video.
When someone strums with a completely stiff wrist and does all the work from their elbow, I find it usually conjures images of C3P0 from Star Wars.
Imagine if he was strumming a guitar, that`s how it looks when your arm is completely stiff. (What song would he play? Something off Paranoid Android maybe)
Be relaxed with your strumming arm. Make sure there is some flexibility in the wrist AND the elbow. Remember the old adage `The fretting hand is the brain, and the strumming hand is the soul`.
I love that phrase. It is so true and so apt. Keep that in mind when strumming. Having a relaxed elbow and wrist allows for more soul in your guitar playing as well as a more natural sounding strum.
Some guitarists just like to `wing it` with their strumming patterns. Instead of being like Top Gun`s `Maverick` and going all out and doing it on the fly, be a little more meticulous like `Goose` and sit down and get prepared.
In my experience, most songs you will hear on the radio will use one of 8 different strum patterns. Therefore, you absolutely most definitely want to learn these 8 strum patterns in your sleep and be able to play them at will.
This should be your absolute minimum.
Get seamless and natural with all the strum patterns you want to learn.
Be able to play them anywhere, anytime, and then you will come across all `Maverick` – being slick and cool, all while your audience thinks you are winging it on the spot like a natural.
Be prepared and learn the essential strum patterns.
This is a fundamental error and one that can cause your guitar playing to sound sloppy rather than solid.
Strumming the wrong strings most commonly occurs on a D chord where the low E string is strummed. This sounds terrible and really makes a guitarist sound like an amateur.
To avoid strumming the low E string on a D chord, either don`t strum it (well, duh!) by not strumming with such a wide `arc`, or bring the thumb of your fretting hand over the fretboard to gently touch the 6th string.
This will kill off the low E note and stop it sounding like a pigeon has just come over a dumped all over your D chord.
Instead, it will sound all heavenly, sexy and sweet just like a D chord should.
When you strum every available string within a chord, all the time, it starts to grate on the listener’s ear – a little like a Bowling for Soup Chorus.
With a simple tweak, however, you can go from sounding annoying at worst or dull at best to sounding like a lively, sophisticated and professional sounding guitarist.
Just a small change can yield such big results. What you should be doing more of, is alternating at various points which part of the chord you strum.
You will want to mix up hitting just the bass strings (4,5,6), the treble strings, (1,2,3) and the full chord (all available strings) at different points.
Take a strum pattern you know and start playing about with which strings you hit at which points.
Start off by just playing the first strum or two on the bass strings and then the rest as usual.
Later, you can start getting more intricate with which parts of the strum pattern you hit on which strings.
Take it steady and integrate this into your playing slowly and very soon your strumming will sound more professional than most – including some pros.
This is common with beginners and occurs when you drag the pick over the strings in a way that creates the sound of a harp.
Technically, you are arpeggiating the chord when doing this and it can sometimes sound cool – just like at the end of a song or in a dream like sequence of a movie.
You do not want your strumming to sound like a harp at any other time though. You want a crisp, fluid strum through the strings where you hear the sound of the strings all at the same time.
Using your index finger nail for down strums and the skin side of the index finger for up strums will help if you are a finger style strummer.
If you use a pick and `harp strumming` is a problem, grab one that is no thicker than 0.46. Thinner picks are easier to push fluidly through the strings.
Why some guitarists think it`s a good idea to permanently strum near the bridge of a guitar is beyond me.
It sounds all weak and tinny when you play an acoustic and strum it there.
It`s not so bad when playing an electric as the pickups `develop` the sound, but if you play an acoustic get closer to the sound hole for a warmer sound.
Yes, sometimes you may want a contrasting sound. One part of the song you may want to sound all cold and distant, and the next part you may want some warm and fuzzy sounds.
This is where you may want to vary where you strum and doing so can add some unexpected and very pleasant contrast to the piece you are playing.
Generally though, stick with strumming nearer to the sound hole for a better and more rounded sound.
Most guitarists get comfortable with down strums pretty quickly but for some the upstroke can sound awful for quite some time. I remember my up strums sounded pretty terrible when I started learning guitar.
I used to use to really thick picks though (I didn`t know any better at the time) so make sure your pick is thin if you use one.
The biggest tip I can give you here though is to try to NOT to get too focused on strumming all the available strings in the chord on your up strums.
For example, when we play a C Major chord, we are told to strum all 5 strings, so most guitarists waste a lot of time focusing on hitting all 5 strings for every strum especially their up strums.
With up strums though, focus more on just hitting strings 1,2,3 and leaving the other strings in the chord for the down strums.
Not only will this make playing upstrokes easier, they will sound more professional and create a nice little bit of contrast with your down strums.
Pausing when you strum is the number 1 cardinal sin of strumming. Doing it won`t send you to hell, but it will make your strumming sound like hell. Music is all about rhythm.
That little pause you may or may not do at the top or the bottom of a strum when playing a strum pattern will destroy all your rhythm.
Keep your arm nice and flowing and breezy. If you are relaxed with your strumming arm, you will find this easier to do.
There are times with more advanced strumming that pausing the strumming arm can be done, but for any basic eighth note strums, you must keep your arm moving.
When learning a new strum pattern it is common for students to play the strum pattern through and then pause at the end of the bar, then start again.
This is ok for a short period as it allows you to hear how one full bar of the strum should sound. Don`t let that become a habit though.
The devil is in the details.
Do you know what a sub-division is?
No, this isn`t something that your bad breathed Welsh Maths teacher (if you had one like mine) bored you to tears with in school, but it is a fundamental of rhythm.
What is strumming? It is a way to apply rhythm to our guitar chords. Therefore, if sub divisions are important to rhythm, we need to get pretty darn good at them.
A sub-division is the way a bar and its beats are broken up into smaller parts.
Read the next section or watch the videos [+ Understanding Rhythm 1+], and [+ Understanding Rhythm 2+] to learn more.
The Whole note is represented by numbers as shown in the diagram below.
Whole notes last in music unsurprisingly for the whole bar. Most music you will hear will be in 4/4 time. This means there are 4 beats to the bar.
Therefore to play a whole note, strum a down strum on beat 1 and count the beats, (1,2,3,4) for the rest of the bar.
1 whole note = 1 whole bar
A half note simply last for half the bar which is two beats.
We always strum a down strum on the beat, so whenever you play a half note, strum down, miss a down strum, strum down again, then miss a down strum, and that all equates to the 4 beats in a bar.
2 Half notes = 1 whole bar
The quarter notes (or four beats) are represented by numbers as shown in the diagram below.
Quarter notes occur in music on the downbeat, or where you would simply tap your foot.
They are called quarter notes because you divide the bar into four evenly spaced out quarters.
4 quarter notes = 1 whole bar
If you are strumming your guitar and you played all quarter notes you would strum 4 down strums.
Next, we are going to break these beats down into smaller chunks.
The word “and” in between each beat is how you break down each beat into smaller sections. These are called eighth notes and there are 8 per bar.
You are simply filling in the spaces in the beats.
If we add in eighth notes to the quarter notes shown above, there are STILL 4 beats in the measure BUT now we have an extra strum
To count eighth notes we add the word “and” in between the numbers. Count four nice and evenly: 1, 2, 3, 4. Those are your quarter notes.
Now add an “and” in between each number you count – keeping the counted numbers you spoke in the exact same “place”: 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and…
You are filling in the spaces don`t forget. You now have 8 counts. The 4 numbers, plus the four “ands”.
If you are strumming your guitar and you played all eighth notes you would strum 8 strums which would consist of 4 down strums and 4 up strums.
If you played a bar of sixteenth notes, you would play 16 notes per bar. These sound pretty fast and will take most beginners a lot of practice to be able to play.
To count sixteenth notes, you use the vowels `e` and `a`.
Again these fill in the spaces – just like “and” does for eighth notes:
Count 1 e and a 2 e and a 3 e and a 4 e and a.
If you are strumming your guitar and you played all sixteenth notes you would strum 16 strums which would consist of 8 down and 8 up in a continuous motion.
Whenever you listen to or play music, get in the groove.
This means soaking up all elements of rhythm on daily basis.
It` s really useful to be able to count out loud and get thinking in “time”.
Listen to the radio or your favourite songs and count the quarter note beats: 1, 2, 3, 4
Then keep counting the beats and add the “ands” (eighth notes).
Then, while keeping count add the “e and a” (sixteenth notes).
There are lots of different types of rhythm out there in western music such as the ones stated above plus other more advanced types such as dotted rhythm and triplets.
For the majority of music out there quarter, eighth and sixteenth notes cover so much ground and so many strumming patterns like you wouldn`t believe.
If you want to be a good guitarist, you will definitely need to have a solid understanding of whole, half, quarter, eighth and sixteenth notes as an absolute minimum especially before you think about the more advanced rhythms.
You may even want to start being one of those annoying people who tap out the beats to songs whenever they hear them on the radio, or just sit there creating your own beats.
Either way, it`s great practice for your guitar playing without you even having a guitar nearby!
Every time you tap out a beat you will be fine tuning your rhythm skills and what is strumming – rhythm applied to the guitar.
Let`s have a little recap…
Whole note = 1 bar – There are 1 x whole note per bar
Half note = 1/2 bar – There are 2 x whole notes per bar
Quarter note = 1 beat – There are 4 x quarter notes per bar
Eighth note = 1/2 a beat – There are 8 x eighth notes per bar
Sixteenth note = 1/4 of a beat – There are 16 x sixteenth notes per bar
The more the above 5 sub divisions make sense to you, the better your sense of rhythm will be.
Play along with me in the videos and aim to get as fluent as possible switching between these sub-divisions.
Once you are really comfortable switching between them, you will find that creating your own strumming patterns from scratch will be far more effortless.
Now, it`s time to get into the nitty gritty of strumming patterns.
When practicing strumming you should keep your arm moving even when you don`t intend to strum the chord.
Imagine your arm is the pendulum of a clock. It just keeps on moving. The rhythm of a strum pattern comes from keeping your hand moving consistently, but NOT making contact with the strings at certain points.
Have you ever heard the saying in music?
“It`s not the notes you play that matter, but the notes that you DON`T play that really matter”.
Well, that follows our principles. If we strummed every time our strumming hand passed over the strings, our rhythm would sound very dull and very samey.
It`s these misses of the strings that create no sound when you pass your hand over the strings and this is what creates the RHYTHM.
Don`t forget – keep your hand moving in the down up motion, but only make contact with the strings on the counts shown - where the D’s and U’s are.
For simpler eighth note strum patterns keeping that arm moving like a pendulum is essential and for most 16th note patterns it is still frequently used. There are however a few exceptions to this rule as you will see.
For the most part, focus on keeping that arm moving at a nice steady pace and your strumming will be easier and far more effective for it.
Strumming is a huge subject and one you simply must be comfortable with to be the best guitarist possible.
Before we play our strum patterns we need to be able to properly read them.
Reading strumming patterns for the guitar can be a bit daunting at first. Once you get the hang of it you will be fine.
Stick with it as it is a very useful skill to learn.
When reading a strum pattern, use your eyes to guide you but make sure you follow your ears.
After all music is meant to be listened to so it must right.
When you are fairly new to guitar it can be almost impossible to correctly work out the strumming patterns that many guitarists use.
One of the best ways to get comfortable strumming is to learn certain popular strumming patterns and learn lots of songs that use those patterns.
Some songs have subtle variations of certain patterns and you will get to know these over time.
If you are not sure how to read rhythms, this chapter will show you. Have a look at the chart below to get you started on some of the abbreviations. They will all make sense as we work our way through the chapter.
D = Down strum
U = Up strum
v = Accent
Numbers = quarter notes
AND = eighth notes
`e` and `a`= sixteenth notes
Play with all down and up strokes with a slight accent on the first beat. Keep that arm moving throughout!
Ideal tempo: 60-160bpm
This is a very, very flexible strum pattern that is used in a huge variety of songs from slow pop to full on fast punk and everything in between.
This is another simple, yet very effective strum pattern. You can play the whole bar on one chord or split the bar by playing beats 1 and 2 on one chord and 3 and 4 on another chord.
Ideal tempo – 60 – 130bpm
A very powerful strum. Whenever you hear a typical chord progression played on piano, simply take those chords and apply this strum pattern, and instantly your guitar playing will resemble the piano line.
Just remember to play the fuller part of the chord on the beat (where you see the numbers) and the bass notes on the off beats (where you see the `and`).
Ideal Tempo – 60 – 90bpm
This is probably the most common of all the strum patterns on the guitar. It is a great go to strum pattern that you can use for a huge variety of songs.
Be careful with the two consecutive up strums and keep your strumming arm fluent and moving all though the pattern.
Ideal Tempo – 90 – 140bpm
The Country Strum does what it says on the tin and sounds very country-esq. It is also used in folk music by artists such as Bob Dylan so is a little more flexible than one may initially think.
Make sure those bass notes are hit a little harder and are ringing throughout. The alternate bass notes are shown by `B1` and `B2`. B1 is often the root note and B2 is often the next bass note in the chord.
Ideal Tempo – 70 – 140bpm
Remember this is called `The Groove` for a reason. Looking at the above chart looks fairly simple, but don`t forget the groove actually comes from stopping the bass notes short to create a split second of silence.
Without this silence the strum loses its power, so be diligent about this when practicing `The Groove`.
Ideal Tempo – 60 – 80bpm
After the ultimate Strum pattern this is probably the second most common of all the strum patterns.
16th note strums are of course a little trickier as there is plenty more happening than in the simpler eighth note strums, so take your time.
Remember it always helps to be able to hear a strum pattern in your head before attempting it.
Play with a steady laid back vibe for maximum effect.
Ideal Tempo – 60 – 110bpm
The Pop Rock strum is a very powerful strum pattern and is also very distinctive. It is another strum that is all about the groove it creates.
Accenting the notes on beats 2 and 4 is very important as this ties into where the all important snare drum usually lands in a band situation.
Idea Tempo – 80 -120bpm
As with all these strum patterns it`s important to watch the videos and get a full understanding of these strum patterns by hearing them in action.
A really simple way to spice up your strum patterns is to add a little swing to them.
Swing is a musical element that creates a unique groove which cannot be replicated in any other way.
To add swing to a strum pattern, simply `delay your eighth notes`. That might sound a little trivial so it is most definitely better to listen to how it sounds in the videos to really understand it.
First off, let`s break it all down. Most songs are played with what is called a `straight feel.
This is where the beats and the off beats are perfectly and evenly spaced out as shown in the strum below.
Notice how our beats (the `1,2,3,4`) and our off beats (the `and`) are spaced out evenly.
Now, let`s add a little swing to the same simple strum pattern.
All we have done is delayed those eighth notes which are the `ands`.
This delay creates a rhythmic push, pull which the `straight` version totally lacks.
Notice how the first `and` (played with an upstroke here) is moved further away from the first down, but closer to the next beat (the next down strum`.
This creates the bounce that makes `swinging the beat` so recognisable.
Interesting, it doesn`t look as neat but it sounds much more lively and has more feel.
Note: Sometimes in some strum patterns the `ands` may be played as a down strum, rather than an up strum. If that is the case, don`t worry just delay those down strums that fall on the `and`.
Don`t confuse what we are doing here with the style of music called swing.
Although that genre frequently uses swing, here we are discussing the technique from a purely rhythmic point of view.
Swing is common in a variety of styles of music such as jazz, Bossa Nova, and Samba amongst others.
That does not mean it cannot be used in more mainstream styles of music.
It most definitely can be used in rock, pop, indie and metal and in my opinion should be used more.
Check out these random artists and the examples of their songs that use swing to hear this great technique in action.
When strumming, always be aware of the dynamics you are using.
Power Dynamics is a wonderful exercise I use with all my students very early on.
Dynamics are the levels or volume you play a piece.
When it comes to strumming you would vary the dynamics by playing some parts softly and some loud.
Changing dynamics throughout a song where appropriate is one of the simplest ways of adding power, life and emotion to a song with relatively little effort.
You need to know exactly how loud you should be strumming and adjust for the song and the section of the song you are playing.
For example, you may want to take a song that was written for a band and play it on acoustic guitar.
The song may start off very quiet with just vocal and a piano, it may get a bit louder for the chorus, quieter again for the next verse, and by the time the song finished it may be rocking the house down in with how loud and powerful it gets.
You can replicate all that on just an acoustic guitar by having different levels of dynamics.
You will want at least 3 set levels of strumming. They are:
You also have the optional levels of:
In Between Quiet and loud
In Between Moderate and Loud
Master playing and strumming at the 3 levels of quiet, moderate and loud first before adding in any other levels of dynamics.
Some things can be compensated for, but a lack of dynamics with your guitar playing cannot.
Get comfortable with your dynamics and your audience will be impressed.
You could play a song that has the chords G,D,Em,C all throughout in the same order and with some variation in dynamics and the use of a couple of the strum patterns you have learnt in this course, you can blow your audience away.
You do not need a whole bunch of chords.
Just some dynamics and a variety of strum patterns combined will often be far more effective.
Bar = A Length of time in music. Most commonly 4/4, can be 3/4/ or 6/8 amongst others.
Beat = A set period of time within the bar. This is what makes music tick, and is the pulse of the song, and what everyone plays to and dances to.
Whole Note = A note lasting the whole bar (4 beats in 4/4 music)
Half Note = A note lasting half the bar (2 beats in 4/4/ music)
Quarter Note = A note lasting a quarter of the bar (1 beat in 4/4/ music)
Eighth Note = A note lasting an eighth of the bar (there are 2 of these per beat)
Sixteenth Note = A note lasting a sixteenth of the bar (there are 4 of these per beat)
The Arc = the distance your strumming hand pass above and below the strings when strumming.
Bridge = the part of the guitar where the strings are attached to the body of the guitar.
Neck = the part of the guitar that contains all the frets and is where you place your fretting hand.
Pick = the little bit of material used to strum the guitar. Often call a `plectrum`.
D = Louder or fuller down strum (strum all or most of the strings)
d = Quieter down strum (strum just 1 or sometimes 2 bass notes together)
U = A louder up strum
u = A slightly quieter up strum
you`re a guitarist who wants to strum like a pro, wants to learn more of the most popular strum patterns that you can use over and over again, or has trouble getting a clear, quality strum sound from the guitar… `Strumming With Soul` has the solution. STRUM More Naturally PLAY with More Passion GROOVE with Better Rhythm LEARN More Songs Do you find that you: Would love to play the most common strum patterns used in rock, pop, indie, ballad, country music, and more? Lack a natural feel for rhythm? Often hit unwanted strings when strumming? Want to play guitar in the styles of Oasis, Johnny Cash, Green Day, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Beatles and more… Have a sloppy, unprofessional strumming sound? Want your strumming to have a lot more soul, passion and joy? If so, then this course was made specifically for YOU. Strumming With Soul contains over 30 HD videos and a bonus kindle and pdf eBook of in-depth proven, tried and tested methods that have been successfully used by guitarists all over the world. In `Strumming With Soul`, you will learn the specific, step by step techniques that I have tried, tested and tweaked on over 100 students in person. Get the basics mastered once and for all You will learn the 6 fundamentals: The essential fundamentals of strumming that most people neglect (and regret later) The very common mistakes of strumming that are holding you back A true, thorough understanding of rhythm – things such as whole, half, quarter, eighth, sixteenth notes – and most importantly how to play them in time How to practice to a `click` or metronome so you will always be `in time` with yourself, the band or backing track – all of the time What `power dynamics` are and how they are the simple secret that only the pro`s really use The 8 basic strums that you can call upon for ANY situation Once you have the fundamentals sorted it`s time to truly kick on and have a LOT of fun with the guitar. It`s time to learn the core strumming patterns that most guitarists never really learn. The truth about strumming patterns is that many guitarists just wing it. They listen to a song and try to replicate that strumming pattern. Experienced guitarists do this all the time. What if I told you, we can leap frog these guitarists? Well, now you can because in this section of the course you will learn some of the most popular strum patterns of all time that are used for the majority of music out there. Leap frog even experienced guitarists When you want to learn a song, all you will have to do, is listen for the strum pattern, and within about 3 seconds you will recognise it as one in this part of the course. Once you know the chords, you can apply the strumming pattern and boom you are away, while all those experienced guitarists are kicking there heels in the background. Here are just some of the powerful elements of the course. Simple Strums That Sound Sophisticated The 3 essential methods to proper fingerstyle strumming The Must Know Super Flexible (and Super Common) Strums Classic Bass Note Strums That Add Lots of Flavour and Power to Your Chords What `swing` is and how to add it to your strumming Contemporary 16th Note Strums That Will Impress Your Audience 4 very stylish swing strum patterns for a unique sound Learn songs and riffs that use the strumming patterns taught in the course and much more…. Enjoy the journey from beginner to intermediate guitar with your strumming. Even some so called pro`s don`t know how to strum like you will be able to at the end of the course. In my opinion when most guitar teachers teach the guitar, they don`t spend nearly enough time teaching you the little things that make the instrument sound so good. They show you the basics and move on. So much of what makes the guitar so special is the little things that no one really talks about. This is never highlighted any more than when it comes to strumming.