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!

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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.


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

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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.

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This may help

Hello there! One small question: looking around the internet, I often see an additional final upstrum in the ‘most used strumming patterns ever’ (so D DU UDU). Will this lesson evolve in this pattern later, or is this the one to focus my practice songs on?

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I’m having some difficulties with this lesson.

When using a metronome, counting “One, Two And Three And Four” I keep having perfect timing on the One and Two, but missing the three keeps throwing my timing off and ruins everything that comes after it.

I can keep rhytm perfectly fine on anything with a metronome, it lines up perfectly fine with the clicks. As long as I don’t need to miss a note. Once I need to skip a note, anything after the skipped note doesn’t line up with the clicks anymore.

Is this a common issue? Does anyone have tips to work on this? I tried slowing it down, speeding it up, just giving it time, …, but nothing seems to help improve this issue.

Have you tried using the count Justin uses in the video 1 2 and miss and 4? sometime saying it out load helps the hand and brain sync up.

I had the same difficulty

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.

Another thing you could try doing as an intermediate step is to skip the top five strings and strike only the bottom (thickest) E string for Beat 3. Its muted sound should be enough to help keep the rhythm going while still being barely audible. With more practice, you’ll eventually be able to skip all six strings rather than skipping only the top five.

Note: I’m assuming that you’re muting the strings as Justin demonstrates in the video.

This is one that I built up in stages - it’s not easy, don’t feel bad for not picking it up quickly and don’t be disheartened because it will get better.
Firstly I started with muted strings and no metronome (metronomes are great but it’s one more complication if you haven’t got the base pattern nailed). As mentioned above I counted the word miss out aloud too.
I then introduced the metronome. Set the metronome to a similar pace to what you could manage in step 1. If you did step 1 at 60bpm then trying to sync with a metronome doing 100 isn’t going to work. Once you can match the metronome then think about increasing the pace. This can all be with muted strings.
Every thing you add is something else for the brain to try to process. Playing chords, making chord changes between bars, making chord changes mid-bar will all likely be difficult at first. Be patient and gradually layer up the complexity is my advice.
It’s like learning to drive a car with a manual gearbox. When you start it takes all of your concentration to hold steady speed in a straight line - you don’t get to the point of changing gears while cornering and holding a conversation on day 1. You’ll get there!

I don’t know if it’s common but it surely happened to me. My advice is to try to ģet to it by feeling, on muted strings along with a song that you like. Try to relax down into the music first and go along with the four downstrums on the beat and when those feel relaxed (take the time you need) just try and see what happens. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t happen, it will. Also playing air guitar along with music helped me to get into the feeling of it, It took sometime. Keep on trying :muscle::muscle::slightly_smiling_face:

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