How to Pick Individual Strings While Strumming Lesson on JustinGuitar

How to pick out individual strings while strumming your guitar and exercises to help you practice. Easy enough for beginners, and such a cool technique!

View the full lesson at How to Pick Individual Strings While Strumming | JustinGuitar

Seeing as they’re not in the lesson text for practice thought I’d post the strumming/picking patterns here. Both the C chord ones.

Two bar progression:

One bar progression:



Thank you!!

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A good practice song for this is Who’ll Stop the Rain by CCR. The intro specifically. Trying to hit the strings noted in the tab below as you strum. Listen to the song to get the rhythm :slight_smile:



Wow, my single string targetting is poor! Even playing at about 40 bpm I’m hitting 4 instead of 5 a lot of the time. This could take a while! (Thanks for the screenshots JK)

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Thank you for the tab. I was thinking the same thing.

This has really highlighted a weakness of mine. I don’t use a pick. I am now thinking that this is something I need to correct. I’ve added a couple of the scales with up and down picks to help with targeting to my daily practice.

My goals is to eventually become better at lead blues with a mental library of licks.

With this in mind, I wonder, on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high), how important is using a pick?

I have worked on this module with fingers only. It works fine.

I am not a pick person, but there are some advantages to picks in some style of play.

I also think you can do it all, at least almost, with fingers. It would help to spend time on finger technique. It takes a lot of dedicated practice, but will make everything easier and sound better.

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Hi David,
If that’s your goal I’d say learning to play with a pick is pretty important…I was going to say fingerpicking a 5 and pick a 5 …learning both and that makes a 10…give both 50% of your time in the coming year,…then you will automatically notice or play with a plectrum is something for you…when I am in a need a lot of speed i use a plectrum with licks, but with rhythm guitar I like a lot more of my thumb and indexfinger,…and with not so fast blues licks I often use one or more fingers…so a little bit of everything…
I hope this helps :see_no_evil:

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Wow, this lesson is great! I feel like the ability to pick out the individual strings was really holding me back before. I have always defaulted to fingerpicking when I wanted to make this sound but this exercise is really helpful with pick control.

It depends, typical band style blues lead will use a pick.

But there are quite a few solo fingerpicking/slide blues guitarists like Justin Johnston etc

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I think there is a reasonable argument that you will get playing better and faster starting with a pick. Once you have that down move to the more advanced fingerpicking and learning that will be easier as you have learned the base first.

Of course, starting to add some fingerpicking in is fun, so do it.

In my case, I am focusing more on classical, so going forward with finger style fits in with that. At least that is what I tell myself. I am still working on strumming and rhythm, though. Just slower.

What are some songs that utilizes this technique?

Needle and the Damage Done and Norwegian Wood, come to mind. Here Comes the Sun and Paint it Black. Almost anything by R.E.M. or the Byrds.

These are just a few that come to this classic-rock-oriented mind.

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I wonder at what bpm Justin does this when he plays it at his normal speed? I am playing this at 120 bpm but it doesn’t sound as fast as Justin plays this.

The way to figure out the bpm of any song is to tap along with the beat on a bpm calculator (e.g.

If you do this on the opening section of this video, you will find Justin’s playing at about 110 bpm.

I know earlier in the year @jkahn posted the pattern for the C Chord back having come back to the lesson today, I thought I’d expand it and add the tab for both the 5th and 6th string roots, for both 2 and 1 bar examples for complteness. Plus add the chord progressions that are referenced.
And I put in a word for the lonely 4th String Root Chords. Hope folks find that helpful. :sunglasses:

@JustinGuitar Be handy to have the tab for this as a resource on the lesson one day. Thx.


Thanks J.
This is an awesome lesson, and I think once I can do this I will really feel like ‘hey I can play Guitar’.

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I noticed in the video Justin mentions to play the F barre chord, but when I watch him play it looks like he’s playing the open chord. In order to hit the root note, is he playing it with this thumb on the 6th string?

Yes, he’s playing the form of the F chord where the thumb hooks over the top of the neck to fret the 6th string.

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Does anyone know any songs that I can use to practise with?