THE Strumming Pattern

Is this the only strumming pattern you'll ever need? Maybe!

View the full lesson at THE Strumming Pattern | JustinGuitar

I found this strumming pattern to be the most challenging lesson so far. It was around here that I fell off the wagon and became disillusioned when I tried Justin’s Beginner Course a couple of years ago. This time around, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that progress will be slow and require lots of practice.

Justin’s tips of using a light plectrum, muting the strings and first perfecting the strum pattern from the previous lesson were super-helpful. For me, the big problem I have is that it just feels “wrong” to not strum the third (or any) down-beat. I found it useful to compensate by tapping my feet so that the foot makes an audible sound as it strikes the floor so I make some sound on the third beat.

I’ve had to come back to this lesson a couple of times and now it feels great to eventually get it and be able to follow along with Justin. I’m now at this stage where I’m trying different beats per minute on the metronome (still keeping the strings muted). Every now and again when I try to be relaxed, I’ll strum the down-stroke without thinking about it. When that happens, I just tell myself that it’s OK, keep the arm moving and remind myself to skip the down-strum on the next bar.


Yes I found missing the down strum quite a challenge but just keep at it and you eventually got the hang of it.


Since I last posted, I tried incorporating this strumming pattern into my regular practice, i.e., play actual chords instead of muted strings.

Justin was right to teach this pattern using the more percussive sound of muted strings as strumming this pattern with chords that ring out proved to be a challenge. I found it difficult to feel the rhythm and keep time with the metronome. I kept picturing the music teacher from Whiplash (the polar opposite of Justin) shouting at me for “rushing”!

It helped to go back and practice playing chords using the 1 2+ 3+ 4 pattern before progressing on to this 1 2+ + 4 pattern. Eventually, after more than a week of practice, I mastered it: I can now play this pattern at tempos of 50-150bpm, change chords every couple of bars, watch the birds outside the window and still keep in time with the metronome. It’s a great feeling to finally get it down!

Edit: Another technique that helped me while playing at slower tempos was to exaggerate my foot tapping and notice or pay attention to how my strumming arm should be moving up and down in synch with my foot. No need for mindfulness when you’re learning guitar!

My new goal is to tackle Guitar Strumming Tips in the next module.


Hi Mate

For the strumming pattern, if I’m using a metronome is each beep a down strum and the up strum is between them?

Or would it be downstream on the beep then up strumming on the next beep?

Cheers mate, love the site BTW!

Hi Rik, the beep should be a down strum, yes. The noises / beeps are the beat “numbers” in a bar. Enjoy!!


So, if I was doing all up and down strums on every beat and I set the metronome to 80 BPM I’d actually strum 160 times?

80 for the down strums on the beep and 80 for the up strum between beeps.

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Yes, in that case you strum 8th notes instead of quarter notes. The tempo remains the same, i.e. 80 bpm.

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So actually I wouldn’t be strumming back up between the beeps?

It’d be like this:

beep - down strum

beep - up strum

beep - down strum

Not like this

beep - down strum
up strum
beep - down strum
up strum
beep - down strum
up strum

It’s great that you have overcome an obstacle through your persistence. Bravo. :slight_smile:

This is a great thing to discover for yourself. Keeping the arm moving is far more important than worrying about the fact you accidentally did hit the strings when you were meant to miss them.

No, you had it correct earlier (and at the end of your post).
80bpm = 80 beats = 80 down movements of the arm + 80 commensurate up movements of the arm.
If you are strumming quarter notes / beats you strum the strings 80 times per minute on down movements only.
If you are strumming eighth notes / bats double that to 160 strums of the strings.
Hope that helps
Richard :slight_smile:

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I am module 4 now and I am struggling to not play all the strings while strumming. Like for example D, D min etc only need the bottom four string to be played but when I strum (with a pick) I always hit all 6. If I try to focus on hitting just 4 then everything else like by chord change, rhythm etc goes bad as I can’t manage to do all that while focusing on hitting the right strings only. This is an issue only in downstrum as Justin mentioned in the lesson that in upstream it is not required to play all the string and we can miss some. Can someone please provide some guidance?

It’s ok to be a little sloppy, and hit the A string (5th) sometimes. But try to avoid hitting the bass E string (6th) on these chords like D and A…that doesn’t sound good.

Maybe you are practicing this at too high a tempo. It’s very normal to have to slow things down when adding a new skill…don’t be afraid to go really slow, like 20 BPM, until you can comfortably do everything consistently.

Then, slowly raise the tempo - maybe 3 - 5 BPM per practice session.

This may help