Many new guitarists start out by learning a few chords on their guitar. You learn the basics, G chord, C chord, and D chord. Maybe you learn an A chord or even the dreaded F chord. Okay, so you have the chord patterns down. What now? You want to play a song on your guitar, right? But what do you do with your strumming hand now that your fret hand is all set. You can find websites everywhere telling you the guitar chords used on your favorite songs, but no one is telling you what to do with your strumming hand. Your friends ask you to play something for them, but playing a D chord alone isn’t very impressive. Knowing a few guitar chords doesn’t help much if you don’t know how to strum in time with a song. You need a strumming pattern.
There are many different strumming patterns that can be used when playing the guitar, but for the beginner it is best to learn a strumming pattern that can be used on many songs. A basic folk strumming pattern can be used on literally hundreds of songs. Learn this strumming pattern and you will be serenading your friends in no time. This one guitar strumming pattern can be used on everything from Nirvana to Rod Stewart to Kenny Chesney and Toby Keith.
Imagine a beat that goes 1, 2, 3, 4 and then starts over. Now imagine, without actually touching the strings, that your strumming hand strums down on the numbers. If it is going to strum down on every number then it needs to strum up between them, right? So now imagine the beat as 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &. Your hand strums down on the numbers and up on the &. Down, up, down, up down, up, down, up. Make sense so far? Okay, now we need to actually let the pick strum across the strings on certain beats of this rhythm. Using the strumming pattern below, let your pick hit the strings on the beats designated with a D or a U. The D is for a down stroke and the U is for an upstroke. Count it off as you go.
D – D U —-U D U
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
You strum the strings once on the 1 and then strum them again on the 2. You’ll strum them again coming up on the & of 2. You won’t strum them on the 3, but you will strum them on the & of 3, on the 4 and then again on the & of 4.Okay, that may not have went as well as you like on the first try, but practice will make perfect. Pick your favorite guitar chord and keep strumming the pattern over and over until it starts to feel natural. Don’t try to change chords yet. This exercise is just to get the strumming pattern down. Strum the strumming pattern on one chord until you can strum it for five minutes straight without messing up. Once you can do this you are ready to start changing chords on your guitar and going through chord progressions. Practice this on your guitar everyday for at least 20 minutes and by the end of the week you will be playing whole songs. Call your buddies over and wow them with your new guitar talent!