THE Strumming Pattern

Difficulty: White

In the previous lesson, we learned a basic strumming pattern that incorporated a couple of up-strums into a super basic four-down-strums-per-bar pattern. If you’ll remember, the counting for that pattern was 1, 2 +, 3 +, 4, with the “ands” being played with the up-strums.

This pattern is a slight variation on that one, and it’s one I like to call “Old Faithful.” It’s the most common strumming pattern around, simply because it just sounds good most of the time and it’s easy enough to apply to most songs.

Skipping a Beat

This pattern has you skipping a down-strum, specifically on beat 3 of the bar. When skipping a down strum, you want to keep your arm movement going. Keep it consistent and pendulum-like, and don’t break that rhythm in the instances when you’re not actually strumming the strings -aim to move your arm as evenly and smoothly as possible.

Think of it this way - even when doing four down-strums per bar, you’ll notice that your arm still has to come back up to the top of the strings after each strum. So, technically, you’re skipping all of those up-strums there - and bet that didn't put you off your down strums.

Of course, keep your strumming arm light and loose, and go for the thinnest pick you can find. This will really help your pick to glide (almost) effortlessly across the strings without too much resistance.

Practice

For this lesson, grab your guitar and play along with me!

  • Start off a simple pattern of four down-strums per bar. Count aloud – 1, 2, 3, 4…
  • Next, add in those up-strums from Lesson 3. 1, 2 +, 3 +, 4…
  • Finally, drop the down-strum on beat 3, keeping the “and” up-strum after the skipped strum. Continue to count aloud! 1, 2 +, 3 +, 4…

When you’re practising this at home, it’s a good idea to use a metronome. Set it somewhere between 80 and 100bpm - a good practice range as it’s not too fast, but also not too slow. Too slow of a tempo can cause just as many problems as too fast of one! If you don't already have a metronome app, you're in luck! I've got you covered with the JustinGuitar Time Trainer Metronome - available for Apple and Android devices.

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