Guitar Strumming Tips

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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I usually start on beat 3.5.

But for some reason when my strumming hand has to keep moving, it makes it harder to get the next grip in time.

I’ll try out your tips, thank you!

I appreciate the video too.

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This ia great! Thank you for creating the strumming pattern generator.


I think that’s pretty normal… you are trying to teach yourself to do two unfamiliar things at once.

I had the same problem learning to tap my foot. It actually made my rhythm worse at first.


An interesting idea.
I’m unsure why some of the D or U instructions appear doubled in the same spot below.
Also, is there a way you could programme it to always include the 1? Useful at this stage of learning.
And to have a minimum amount of hits (say 5)?

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Say out loud what you are doing.
For example:

1 2 and and 4

matched by saying the direction of travel.

Down down up up down.

Do you mean because of trying to concentrate on two things at once? Multiple strumming of the strings and chord changes all in one bar?
If yes, then you need to practice the strumming on muted strings much more so it becomes ingrained and you need to practice the strumming with only one chord per bar, or one chord for many bars before a change happens.

I would counter that suggestion, sorry @Tbushell
It is training bad habits from an early stage.
Once learned, the habit of forming chords one finger at a time is tough to break.

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That is what you should be aiming for.
It will come.
Get the basics right and at slow tempo.

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True enough, but the exercise I described prevents that by reducing the time you have to get your fingers in position by one beat at a time, until you have to do air changes anyway.

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Yeah; because of trying to focus on 2 things at once.

I’m on lesson 5 and using the “10 Min Song Practice” videos within the practice “routines”.

Most of these songs have 2 chords per bar, and I can hit the chords in time since it’s only 2 strums per bar.

But if I should be strumming 4 times per bar (as @Tbushell mentioned) then I can’t get the chord in time. Even if 2 of those extra strums are silent, it’s too much going on.

Can’t slow the song down in the practice video; gotta pay for the app for that.

Otherwise I’ve been practicing strumming patterns on muted strings, and I can get most of them at 100BPM.

Thus, I don’t think it’s a rhythm issue with me, but rather a ‘rubbing-belly-and-patting-head-simultaneously’ thing.

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Both Justin’s website and YouTube allow you to slow down videos. You’ll hear some distortion, but it is well worth doing to help you tighten up your chord changes.

If you can’t make the combined strumming and changes work at the slower tempos, maybe you are just not ready yet. Keep practicing them separately and raising the tempo, and after a while, try the combination again at a lower tempo.

Sounds like you are on the right track…just keep working on it.