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Back to 4 Skills Course Outline

Lesson 1: Overview of 4 Skills

Lesson 2: How Frets Work, Fingering Notes

Lesson 3: Picking Simple Melodies and Scales

Lesson 4: Your First Chords

Lesson 5: Strumming Technique - Songs in C and G

Lesson 6: More Chords - Am, E, Em, B7

Lesson 7: Two More Strum Patterns

Lesson 8: Chord Summary - G, C, D, E, Em, B7

Lesson 7: Two More Strumming Patterns

Here are two more fairly simple strumming patterns. In the previous lessons we used what we called the 1-2-3-rest pattern. The rest, in case you didn't realize it, is included to allow a smooth change between chords. Because, for the most part, when we change chords it happens on the first beat of a new bar (or "measure"). By resting on beat 3 of the previous measure this gives you time to change chords without fumbling around too much.

Standard Quarter Note Strum

The fact is though, guitar players usually do not always rest on beat 4. They just play down strokes on 1-2-3-4, make a quick change, and then strum on 1-2-3-4 again.

So that's the first strumming pattern you should work on: all down strokes on each beat. When you're in 4/4 time, with four beats per measure, the beats are called quarter notes. We'll call this the Standard Quarter Note Strum. It is all down strokes on each beat - on each quarter note. This strum is the basis for most other strums you will use as a guitar player. They are simply variations of the Standard Quarter Note Strum.

All Down Eighth Note Strum

In the first variation we play eighth notes instead of quarter notes. That means you count each beat like this: "1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and". With this strum you make a down stroke on each count as well as on the "and" of each beat. So you are essentially strumming twice as fast as with the Standard Quarter Note Strum.

With this strum you will often rest on the "and" of beat 4. So it sounds like this: "1 and 2 and 3 and 4 rest, 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 rest" So the rest is only half as long as it is in the Standard Quarter Note Strum, but it still gives you a break to change chords. In fact when playing along with a song, you will often drop the final eighth note strum just to break up the strumming pattern and give your accompaniment some variety.

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star - G - See music with chord changes

Down/Up Eighth Note Strum

The next variation is to take the Eighth Note Strum and make each "and" an up stroke. This is a major variation on what you have learned to this point, and it will take some practice to get good at doing up strokes.

The first trick is to keep your wrist and fingers flexible enough to change your pick angle slightly when you go up.

The second trick is to realize that on the up stroke you don't have to play more than two or three strings. It is those upper strings (strings 1 and 2) that give the up stroke its distinctive sound. Mastering this technique will require a fair bit of practice.

As you become more comfortable playing guitar you will create variations on this strum. For example, you may play a song with the all down stroke version of this strum, and throw in the occasional up and down stroke.

1/8th Up/Down Strum Exercise - See music with chord changes

And here is the same exercise with a bit of swing. Adding swing to pop music is very common. Instead of playing two 8th notes with equal value, the first one is held a bit longer than the second.

1/8th Up/Down Strum Exercise with Swing - See music with chord changes


Practice Songs for Down/Up Eighth Note Strum

Practice the Down/Up Eighth Note Strum by playing along with these songs. If playing with the songs is too difficult right now, just practice the strum, changing between G, C and D chords. Don't give up if it seems too difficult. With a bit of practice you will get it!

Achy Breaky Heart - C - See music with chord changes

Budapest - G - See music with chord changes


Next Lesson: Chord Summary