How to Get Better at Strumming Guitar

How to Get Better at Strumming Guitar

Just like me and all guitarist’s when they were a beginner they had to get started. First learning some chords. Then You have to learn how to transition between chords. Now you want to learn how to strum your guitar. You need some basic concepts of rhythm and Strumming.

So how to get better at strumming guitar? With basic Concepts you can learn how to strum your guitar better. Keep your arm moving like a pendulum. Strum the same distance apart. Count to keep good time. Down strums are always on the downbeats & up strums are on the upbeats. Don’t forget the ghost note keep your arm in motion.

These are just the facts, but if your interested in learning how to strum better. Read on for all the basic concepts to get you strumming better “in time”.

Basic Concepts for Strumming Guitar Better 

There are some basic concepts to strum the guitar. These are true and once you learn this and practice. You will be able to strum with ease. When you start off you will need to keep your hand in motion. Like a clock pendulum goes back and forth. So should your arm.

Keep your arm relaxed as much as possible when you strum. With your fretting hand gently place your hand over the strings so they don’t ring out.

You want your arm to stay in motion, but it also has to be steady. At an even strumming motion. A smooth up and smooth downward motion.

Count the Down Strums

To start just strum down to get the hang of what it feels like to strum. Just strum down four times. 1, 2, 3, 4, do that several times. We want to concentrate on hitting all the strings at an even strum and pace. To help with this you should count out loud. 1, 2, 3, 4. 1, 2 ,3 , 4.

Also let me add listen to what that sounds like. The way you hold your pick is going to add to the sound of the strum. So make sure you are holding your pick properly. Click this link if you need help with holding the guitar pick properly.

After you get the hang of that. Next we want to strum down and up. This time you want to strum down one time and then back up. But on the way up don’t hit any strings. Count out loud one and two and three and four. Practice this until you are comfortable.

When you come up with your hand, but are not hitting any strings this is a ghost note.

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What is the “And” of the Beat?

When you are counting the down strum is one. “And” is when you are bringing your hand back up. We want to do this 4 times. Strumming is not arbitrary. There are techniques that once you learn, and apply them you can’t go wrong. Well after you practice them.

This is what is called the “and” of the beat. The “and” of the beat will always be an up strum.

Count the Up strums

By now you should be fluent with down strums, down (and) up strums. So now we want to strum down and up and down. This time we are strumming the strings down, Skipping the strings when your hand goes up, and then strumming the strings down again.

Don’t forget to strum evenly, and count out loud. 1, and 2, and 3 and 4. 1, and 2 and 3, and 4.

The down strum is a number one two three four, and the “and” of the beat is always when your hand is coming up. If when your hand comes up you do not strike the strings this is what is called a “ghost” note.

The basic concepts are:

  • Count out loud
  • Down strums are numbers when counting
  • The “and ” of the beat is always on the up strum
  • A ghost note is when no strings are struck
  • Down strums are on Down beats & Up strums are on the Upbeat

How to Improve my Strumming Pattern?

Some people would recommend a metronome, but I say just start with counting out loud. You can also keep time with tapping your foot. Most songs are in a 4/4 time. This is why we want to count in time four times. Click this link if you want to see a complete video lesson on how to strum a guitar.

How to Make Strumming Sound Better?

There are several things that make a guitar sound the way it does. Guitar strings, can make your guitar sound dull if they are old. Like wise a new set of strings can brighten up the tone of your guitar.

The way you hold your pick can cause the guitar to sound totally different. If you have a regular shaped pick. Which is triangle in shape. You have three sides of the pick. If you use the pick like most people. You play with the pointed side facing the strings.  Then you get a crisp deliberate sound from the strings.

If you use one of the other two sides of the pick. Which is a bit more rounded. You will get a softer sound when you strum the strings. So these are just a few of the factors that can effect the tone of your strumming.

Playing with no Pick

If you are playing your guitar with no pick the sound will be softer. This is a great way to play the guitar. When you are using your fingers the sound is warmer and completely different. Than with a pick.

You have more options too. You can strum using your nails. You can thump a base line with your thumb then pluck the individual strings with your fingers. There are more ways to get that softer vintage sound.

Another factor is how you strum your guitar. Are you pounding the strings? Making a loud loud noise, or are you strumming the strings?

It is so easy to get into a habit of not staying relaxed when you are playing. The tension in your hand is heard through the strings. When you are tense you can’t seem to get that (For lack of a better word) smooth groove.

It is essential that you stay relaxed when you are strumming.

I know this is true with me. When I am not relaxed my strumming tends to be tense and loud. If you stay relaxed you can get a softer, smoother,  tone out of your guitar.


Related Questions

What about your fretting hand?

What about your fretting hand? This could be a cause of the strumming not  sounding up to par. No matter how in time you are. If your chord is not set up properly then its going to sound bad.

I would recommend some basic steps. To make sure you are going to have a positive outcome every time.

First off make sure you have a good hand posture. Meaning your elbow is in allowing your hand to form the chord properly. Without your fingers being flat across any of the strings.

Keep your thumb low on the back of the guitar neck. This will allow there to be room at the bottom of the neck. So that you are not gripping the guitar like a bat.

When you are placing your fingers in position on the strings. Position your fingers close to the fret. To prevent buzzing from the strings.

Keep in mind that with some chords you will need to push your fingers, and thumb at the same time. This will insure the strings will be held down securely, and they will ring out properly.

After you get everything in place and set up. Then pluck one string at a time and listen. Listen to make sure all the strings are ringing out. If you get to a string and it is buzzing or sounds dead.

Then take a look at your fretting hand. Find out what the problem is, and make the necessary adjustments. Then go to the next string.


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Get the Chord Right Every Time

Do these steps every time, and you will get it right every time. See when your playing guitar. Yes we all want to be like our favorite Rock Stars. We forget that to get there we have to practice. With practice it takes time.

When you practice it’s not always about speed, and learning it quickly. No it’s about learning it correctly. With guitar you break things down, and learn a little at a time. You learn it then you go to the next step.

At first this will seem like a lot of things to do just to play a chord. With practice, and doing it this way every time. It won’t be long before you won’t even think about it. You will just automatically do these steps.

4 Guitar Strumming Tips

  1. Hold the pick properly
  2. Keep your strumming hand relaxed
  3. Strum at an even distance
  4. Count out loud

If you like that lesson maybe you will like these also: Guitar Lessons.

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