My strumming is horrible

I do not know exactly what i am doing wrong. i can get the strumming pattern and cords. but i still can not make anything sound like music


yeah - I understand the feeling. :slight_smile:

a short demo of your strumming will help a lot. There are so many ways to make a mess of it. Many of us have tried most of those ways… Even a rough recording will help us help you.


Yes that’s what to do Michael, but make sure you give us a video recording not an audio only one.

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If you can strum the chords and the pattern in time, then that is the music. Are you sure you don’t mean that it doesn’t sound like the song you’re trying to play? That will require something to provide the melody :thinking:

Good advice from others so far, let us see a video of your strumming.
At which point on your journey are you? Right in the beginning? It’s quite normal, that strumming can sound a bit awkward at first until you get a feeling for it.
I can highly recommend Justin’s strumming courses. I didn’t have problems with my strumming, but nevertheless I did Strumming SOS and Strumming Dynamics so far and took a lot out of them.


Hello Michael,
I wan’t to echo, what others have already said. Without a video recording showing your strumming, we cannot give you any useful tips, I’m afraid. There can be so many different reasons.
We’re all walking the learning path. Every single one of us was a ‘bloody beginner’ not knowing how to hold his or her guitar properly.
This community is such a friendly and helpful place. I just want to assure you that you can feel save about posting a video :slightly_smiling_face:.


I echo Nicole in this. My strumming sounded horrible too, it irritated me so much that I gave it up. Then a little by little thanks to Justin’s lessons I identified what was wrong with it and now it doesn’t sound horrible anymore. The problem might be in the timing,
or in the sound of it (the way the pick hits on the strings), or maybe in repeating the same pattern through all the song and it annoys you to death. A short video would help us to help you…but do start reasoning on it yourself: what could be the problem? Name your enemy and look into his eyes to be able to defeat it!


Similar thread, maybe helpful?

Just my opinion… To me one of the biggest things that “makes it sound musical” is dynamics. Playing softer, harder… miss a strum here and there… add a strum here and there. It kinda loosens things up and helps get rid of that rigid sound.



Would be interested to know what thickness pick you’re using… generally easier to have something a bit thin and flexible for strumming, especially if just starting out and maybe go a little thicker once you’re happy. I started with 0.46mm and now use 0.6mm

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I am pretty sure it is timing and not knowing when to change. I will try to get a video.

I will also have to figure out to add a video here .

Make a vid on your phone, easy as.

Upload to youtube set as unlisted, post here.

There’s a comprehensive “How To” showing the process to record and post a video in the JGC.
I think it is in AVYOP section but I don’t know how to link to it in hete.
Using a phone to record audio and video is all you need.

FWIW, and declaring that I am only 4yrs playing next month.

From ‘hard yards’ experiences there’s a world of difference between learning how to strum and learning to strum. The latter is down to us, the musicians. I am still learning.

“Rhythm is king”, imho.

When you’re comfortable with the “how to strum” try adding some practise sessions muting the strings on the fretboard completely with your fretting fingers and strum along to a song you like.

A band is better than a solo performer for this practice because as a solo acoustic player, we are the band.

Focus on the drummer to get the rhythm and dynamics, and develop a feel for the “down-ups” pattern as you strum along. Once locked onto the drummer, the bass player will often naturally “appear” too.

Give it time and your strumming hand will start to get into the dynamics and feel of the groove, and become more “expressive”, ie. srumming the bass/mid/treble string groups to the beat. You will hear the different string sounds even though they are muted.

(Percussive strumming and palm-muting are for later as skill develops … something that is work in progress for me)

There’s no rules on string groupings, eg. perhaps think Low strings ( 6 to 4) , Mid (4 to 2) , High (3 to 1) . They are like a drummer’s bass/ snare/ symbols.

Again there’s no rules, however Low is often a down-strum, a Mid can be both down and up strums, and High is mostly an up-strum.

I’ve rambled on enough, do share a video and those who know will give you constructive critique.

Strumming patterns have their place in our development, particularly for us ’ noobs’. However, develop the thought that rhythm and being in the groove is the key to strumming and you will get there.


Yup, totally agree, the keyword here is ‘relax’ and loosen up. Easier said than done, just play like no-one is listening, keep your strumming hand moving and play around with skipping strums together with light/hard contacts. Push it to extremes to find the edges of what sounds good then dial it back a bit.

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I can’t seem to keep my hand moving. I also seem to stop when I am changing some chords.

As we said to you several weeks ago Michael, you need to post a video if you want targeted advice.


We are always hyper-critical of our own playing and singing from the get-go. Keep at it, move forward in the course and S-L-O-W it down until you feel comfortable. At the end of the day you want to develop your skills and ear to self-assess. Most likely you will hit a groove and a light bulb will turn on for you. At least that’s my wish for you. :slight_smile:

Try practising the chord changes you find tricky individually, using a metronome to keep the timing of the changes, start slow and work up as you get confident. Separately, practice your strumming patterns with all strings muted, again start slow and build up, get used to feeling the ‘groove’ of the strumming pattern, don’t keep doing the up-down-down-up-up-down thing in your head, just feel it. Slowly introduce your best chord changes into the strumming patterns. This is all IMHO, it worked for me, no other guarantees! Not sure what you’re learning or your taste in music, but a simple 12 bar blues is fantastic practice for the above, the sooner you stop counting and just feel it the sooner it’ll click into place.

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Can you play on time? Playing on time = music. 4 beats all down strums sounds like music on time. Use a metronome and play to the beat. Once you can achieve this at a slow BPM increase by 5 until you can’t keep up and keep working. I would also suggest getting the Justin guitar app. I have it and it has songs to play along too. It’s easy to hear of your out of time. You can slow the song down to learn it. It also has a practice section with a strumming section so you can practice strumming. I don’t work for Justin in anyway and I’m not paid to tell people to get the app. It has helped my playing out alot. Also practice strumming with out chords by muting the strings with the fretting hand so you can concentrate on strumming alone. Hope this helps!