Guitar Strumming Tips

A fun song that has the first strumming pattern is Nirvana - the man who sold the world for the ones interested.

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I’m curious, is muting the 1st string optional or a must? Is it necessary to mute the 1st string if I can strum the five strings without looking? Thanks!

Edit: I meant the 6th string.

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If you are accurate enough not to play the E string then muting is optional. The thickest string is the 6th string not the 1st string.


I’m curious why we don’t do any muting on chords like D, A ,Dm, Em, etc. where we are avoiding more strings yet we are advised to mute on C where we only ignore one string?

I’m guessing it’s because it’s harder to mute for D, A ,Dm, Em, etc. but it is easier on the C?


Those chords can be muted with the thumb, there is a lesson on that in grade 2. Though muting 6th and 5th string for D(m) can be difficult.

And I think you mean Am instead of Em.

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@Richard_close2u There was a correction made on the “counting Ands” lesson to change downbeat to off-beat. I see here Justin mentions the on-beats as downbeat. What does it mean in this context?

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There is a subtle, important difference between these two …

1] playing on the beat

2] playing the on beat

Playing on THE beat means playing on every count of a numbered beat from 1 to 4 inclusive.

Playing the ON beat means playing only on the 1 and the 3 and not playing on the 2 and 4 (the 2 and the 4 being the OFF beat).

I hope that helps.
Cheers :smiley:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide , Approved Teacher & Moderator


I’ve made a simple tool that generates random strumming patterns on reload, maybe you’ll find it helpful: Strumming pattern generator



Random strumming pattern thing is cool. Definitely going to try to incorporate that into my practice.
And Thanks for the pictures of how to hold the pic Rich. I’m still trying to find the best way that works for me


@drybalka That generator is great! Thanks a lot!


As if playing chords I don’t know wasn’t enough, Justin then dares to taunt me with the lick at 9:21. Like man I’m trying to learn here stop doing stuff I can’t do yet lol! Joking aside, it was really cool and probably necessary to drive home the point. Loved it. Thanks for this lesson!

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One thing I’m still having trouble with is keeping up the strum, or hitting the strings even when I’m not supposed to. For example, say I’m trying Old Faithful (Down _, Down Up, _ Up, Down _), I keep accidentally strumming a chord. If I move my hand too far off, I miss the next strum. Is this something I’ll just pick up as I go along?

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Yep, just play more and that will sort itself out.


Hi Ari,
Probably superfluous, but I just want to add, … if something is not going well, slow it down until it goes well, and from there you gradually increase the pace, … as long and as calmly as necessary,. …and then in the end it goes"automatically"well :sunglasses:


Thank you both! It’s a relief to hear that all I need is practice and not, oh I don’t know, a robot hand :sweat_smile:

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Regarding: keeping the hand moving even when there’s no strum.

For some of the songs, I am struggling to make all the chord changes in time.

Like “A Girl Like You”; I can hit the chords but I can’t hit the chords if I need to move my hand 4 times per measure.

So in these situations, should I just play one chord per bar in the meantime?

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I’d suggest you start by just trying to strum the first chord in the bar - on the “1” count.

On the 2, 3, 4 counts, get your fingers into position for the next chord, but keep your strumming hand moving to the count, strumming the open or muted strings as you get set up for the next chord.

e.g. 1 x x x 1 x x x …

If the beats 2, 3, and 4 are still not enough time to finger the next chord, slow the tempo until you can do this.

When you can do that consistently, start holding the chord for 1 and 2 e.g

1 2 x x 1 2 x x …

then 1 2 3 x 1 2 3 x …

then 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 …

The idea is to focus on getting a good chord on 1, but give yourself less and less time to make the change to the next chord, while also focusing on keeping your strumming hand moving in time.

It might help to count out loud, or that might actually mess up your timing…do whatever works best at first (though you want to eventually be able to count and strum in time).


So in the song “A Girl Like You” there are 2 strums per bar (in the practice video at least).

I can make these 2 strums per bar.

But if I have to keep my hand moving in a strumming motion, it effectively makes it 4 strums per bar (even if 2 of those strums are silent).

Trying to do 4 strums per bar messes me up and I can’t hit the next chord.

Your comment seems to prioritize 4 strums per bar, even if that means only actually strumming 1 time followed by 3 silent strums, correct?

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Correct - doing this really helps with keeping a steady beat, and when you move on to other strumming patterns. It can be silent strums, or on the strings, as long as you keep time. Won’t sound very musical at first if there are muted or open strings ringing, but that’s ok.

Are you starting to fret the next chord on beat 2? And continuing the strum while you get your fingers into position for the next chord?

To start, it might help to move one finger at a time into the new position on each beat of 2, 3, 4.

Then, start holding the chord for strums 1 and 2, and start moving your fingers on 3 and 4.

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I remembered where I got this. The whole video,is worth watching, but he goes into the fretting hand switching around the 5:50 mark.

He doesn’t stress keeping the strumming hand moving, but I would add that in when you can.

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