All Down 8th Note Strumming

Learn a high-energy strumming pattern using only downstrums and explore accenting the back beats!

View the full lesson at All Down 8th Note Strumming | JustinGuitar

My biggest problem with the 8th note strumming is that my leg moves with each downstrum.

I am looking for advice / tips to get my leg to move only on the beat.

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Try putting the guitar to one side for the moment.
Tap your foot to a regular 4/4 beat.
Tap your strumming hand to the same beat.
Now add an extra tap between the two (eighth notes).
If you do that for a while and become comfortable with it, it’s only a small step to substitute the hand tapping with guitar strumming. (Try it with muted strings and no chord changes first).
Oh yeah, Do it slowly and get it right first
good luck :smiley:


Thanks Brian for the good advice.

This is the most important thing, in my opinion. Slow it down enough that you can do it. Practice that for a while. Speed it up a little. Practice that for a while. Speed it up a little more. Lather, rinse, repeat…

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I think separating the foot and hand in coordinated rhythmic movements is hard.

For this one I had to slow down to a snails pace (quite literally) and awkwardly force myself to strum down as my heel drops and again as it rises.

Foot-down- strum down-foot up- strum (argh) down- Foot-down- strum down-foot up- strum (argh) down-and on and on.

Slooooowly speed it up and eventually it improves.

I have and still need a lot of practice getting different parts of my body to respond to rhythm slightly differently but in a coordinated way.

I had exactly the same issue at the beginning. I can’t remember when I overcome this problem, but I have since developed a habit which may contribute: whenever listening to music while not playing guitar, try to tap the foot constantly with the beats, and tap/wave the hands at any different frequency, 8th, 16th, 32th, or slower, mixed, whatever makes musical sense. When I drive and listen music, I use left hand to tap the constant beats, right hand to do all the veri-rhythm tapping.

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Thanks for the reply, This is a problem, i ignored but with the 8th note strumming above 80bpm with my foot going at 160 bpm, its a real distraction.

I will give your approach a try

This is another good suggestion to try. I wonder if changing from a metronome to a drum beat may help

This is a good idea! I have done a lot of tapping to music, but not like this. Thanks!

Not only am I poorly coordinated, I am old too…

I’m also not younge, 55, starting guitar last year. Playing guitar will keep us young, at least at heart I believe. Cheers!


Rob, go back to slow strumming, count the 1, 2, 3, 4 out loud and consciously watch your leg on those beats as your foot taps along. Train it like any other moving part when yo’re playing the rhythm.
Cheers :blush:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide & Moderator

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On the surface this sounds so easy! But my brain has really struggled with this one :joy:

I’ve got to the point of getting the all down 8th note strums in time, with full strums on beats 2 and 4, but introducing chord changes throws a massive spanner in the works. Just instinctively I seem to want to time them with the big beat 2 strum rather than beat 1…

Guess that’s where the practice until the strumming can go on autopilot comes in!

This pattern with back beat works well on Bob Seger Hollywood Nights

Further to my post above, and in case it helps anyone that has similar issues… I thought of a little intermediary step between playing muted and switching chords… I started playing muted but repositioning my fretting hand (up or down the neck) on beat 1, just as a step to divorce the function of both hands without the complication of fretting a chord. But let’s me practice the fretting hand movement on beat 1.
Dunno, has helped me, may help others.

The text says hit just the thicker strings on the backbeat but Justin says hit all the strings on the backbeat. Am I misunderstanding this?

No you’re not missing anything other than reading further. He starts off by teaching to strum a little harder on the backbeat just to get used to the small strums and getting the accents. The goal then is to strum all of the strings on beats 2 and 4 (the backbeat) to really emphasise that groove.

Hope that helps :metal:

Iam too having trouble with the foot but with practice i think i will iron it out . At what set of beats should i put the metronome ? I mean for 4 strumming we used
4/4 , for 6/8 we used 6 clicks now do i set it to 8 ?


4/4 is the default setting in that a meronome beats in a steady manner and most electronic varieties will make a slightly different sound every 1st beat (beep - bam - bam - bam or however you care to describe it).

6/8 is very different. You want the metronome slow and without a noise differentt o the others if your metronome allows it. Set it slow and listen for just two noises … beep (the 1st = the beat of 1) then beep (the 2nd = the beat of 4).

For 8th strumming you revert back to 4/4 settings and strum on the beeps and between the beeps. You do not set the metronome to 8s … you work at and between the noises.

Hope that helps.
Cheers :smiley:
| Richard_close2u | Community Moderator, Official Guide, JustinGuitar Approved Teacher

I’ve been counting 1 and 2 and 3 and 4, putting emphasis on the 2 and 4 like Justin says but…

… am I right in thinking that I don’t put any emphasis on the 1 when I change chords?