Changing chords during full strum cycle

Hey yall,

Im on module 6 currently. I use the app to practice songs. Several of the songs have chord changes during the strum cycle. Hopefully cycle is the correct word I mean the entirety of 1+2+3+4+. I’m fine with changing chords so long as the strum pattern is D D D D but if becomes complicated like D DU U D

I just cant wrap my head around it. I feel like with the amount of suggested module songs that have strum changes mid cycle that I should be doing these with relative ease.

Yet no matter what I do even if I slow the music down I just cant seem to consistently change notes properly. Especially if the change doesn’t happen on beat 3.

Out of everything I struggle with strumming the most. Will there be a lesson on this eventually or is this something I should have picked up on by now?


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Try not to expect too much of yourself. Things are only ever “easy” once they’ve been specifically practiced and mastered. Learning how to strum is one thing, and learning to change chords on the various beats within a bar is something else. It’ll need it’s own dedicated practice.

Walk before you run. Slow everything right down to a speed at which you can get it right. That might mean stopping the songs and practicing by counting out the beats yourself, or using a metronome. It doesn’t matter how low the speed is, as long as you can do it right. Then as you get more comfortable, speed things up in small increments.

It will come to you, but as with most things guitar it will take practice. :slight_smile:

PS: The app does not always show the correct strumming pattern. Something to watch out for if you’re trying to get that authentic sound.

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Me too. I’ve been at this for about 2 years now (this time around) and my strumming is still awful. Sometimes I dig in too deep with the pick, other times I barely touch the strings, often missing some altogether.

To be honest, I didn’t find the app all that helpfull for strumming after a while. Initially I loved it. But eventually I found that playing along with the full band in the app tended to mask my poor strumming technique. I have since moved to using a looper. I may return to the app when my technique is bedded down.

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Very good advice I’m sure. I guess I just need to give myself more time failing at it in order to understand what I’m doing wrong. I just feel like I should know by now. I’ve seen these songs in the last 3ish modules. So it makes me feel like I missed a lesson or I didn’t pick up on something that I should.

I actually have noticed that about the app. I’m glad you clarified that up for me thank you.

I personally like the app but yeah I do notice the strumming in it is a bit wonky. I can usually strum fine but when I’m learning a new strumming pattern it takes me ages to get it down. I also cant count and strum at the same time. My brain goes all stupid. Similar to trying to juggle when you don’t know how. It just cant figure out how lol.

Ill have to look into a looper thanks for the suggestion.

In a case like you are talking about with the DDUUDU strum when it’s just two beats, chord change and then another two beats, I just do DD chord change and DD again. It does vary based on the song.

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Yeah, I feel you with the counting and strumming! I found it a bit easier to only count the beats I’m actually strumming.
For Old Faithful I’ll count 1, 2, and, and, 4 for example. Just need to be careful to stay in time then.
Practicing a lot with the metronome for that currently. Not sure If I should try and focus to count every beat really :thinking:

If I throw in tapping with my foot, it often goes completely wonky, with my leg starting to do this little jig on the ‘and’ counts :joy:

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When I try to lean knew strum patterns, I first start by using the technique Justin suggests, mute all the strings with the left hand and work on the pattern with the right hand only. It’s more like a percussion exercise so that I can start to hear/feel the pattern. I count it while strumming if I can (foot tapping optional). Once I start to get it with muted strings, I use a chord, any chord. At this point I can then try to apply it to the song that caused me to need to learn it, slowed down if needed. I then go back to work on counting out loud If I need to, using a metronome and tapping my foot. These last steps, especially foot tapping while counting are usually the hardest, but they help cement the pattern in my brain.

Justin also has a paid-for course on strumming techniques ($10 lifetime access). It covers beginner to more advanced techniques. It may be helpful to feel the pattern as you can play along using the muted technique with Justin.

Enjoy the Journey!

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This is why you need to slow it down enough that you can perform it correctly, without failing. If that means 0.5bpm, do it at 0.5bpm. We do learn from failure, but allowing yourself to continuously fail isn’t going to teach you much. It could even end up in bad habits which you then have to unlearn later on. One of Justin’s favourite mantras is:

“Practice makes permanent, so practice perfectly.”

This is a Grade 3 lesson, but might help you out: Perfect starts slowly

I know that playing songs is the whole point of learning guitar, but developing good technique which enables you to do that does require specific, non-song-based practice.

(This is coming from someone who literally wasted three years by focusing exclusively on songs rather than technique.)

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I couldn’t agree more with David in not forgetting that value in just practicing the strumming pattern with muted strings as is mentioned in the course a few times. You need that pattern (whichever pattern you want to use) to be automatic and the easiest way to get it so is by practicing just that and then introducing the music and chord changes. They shouldn’t take more than a few 2 minute sessions to start to feel pretty natural.

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Lots of good advice on strumming already given. I will say that for the specific example you gave, Old Faithful (D DU UD), is not a good pattern for changing chords in the middle of the bar. That is because there is no down strum on beat 3, which is where the 2nd chord (usually) comes in. @tony hinted at this above – he switches patterns for measures with 2 chords. He goes to D D D D for such measures, but you could use any pattern that has a strum on beat 3, e.g. D DU D DU or D D DU DU.

Of course, switching strum patterns in the middle of a song will take some practice, as well.


For this specific pattern a good example is A Girl Like You where the chords change on the @ after beat 2. If you have not already done so it worth checking out the song lesson where Justin goes through the song playing it with D D D D and then D D U U D.

:+1: for the strumming techniques course. Download it onto a USB. Plug it into the back of your TV and strum along with Justin as you work your way through the exercises.

There is nothing like a quick tip and Justin has given 11 of them in the playground section of the website.


Thank you all so much for the feedback. I’ve read it all and taken it to heart. I especially appreciate the resources and personal experiences.

Thanks so much!

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James @Socio

James thanks for pointing out the the lesson where Justin explains how to change chords mid bar using OF.
Gave it a try tonight and it worked better than I had hoped, need a bit bit more practice. Will allow me to use this in one of my five songs for Grade 1 which will sound better than DDDD.
Michael :+1:

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