Why Is Strumming So Hard?

In this lesson, I'll answer one of the questions I get the most: WHY IS STRUMMING SO HARD? Well, get ready! I've got 11 tips that will help you NAIL strumming the guitar!

View the full lesson at Why Is Strumming So Hard? | JustinGuitar

I am finding it very hard to strum. It’s like my pick is a hammer. Is there a trick to keep even pressure on the strings .

Welcome, @Opajoe
I struggle strumming as well. Not very coordinated am I…

It is coming along, though. I have spent a lot of time (but not yet enough time) practicing strumming. Part of that is patterns, but also dynamics.

I do a lot just muting all the strings with my left hand and strumming a simple pattern. Try strumming as lightly as you can and keeping the motion as smooth and consistent as possible. Then slowly increase your attack and play louder while trying to be consistent at any given pressure.

It takes a lot of repetition, like a lot of things in guitar. We need to train our body to do it smoothly without thinking.

Hi Opajoe and welcome to the Community.
What thickness of pick are you using? You should start with a really thin .38 or .46 nylon. They don’t sound great but are very forgiving. As your technique improves you can gradually go up in thickness.

1 Like

Hello @Opajoe and welcome to the community. Feel free to pop in to the Community Hub and introduce yourself there. Community Hub - JustinGuitar Community

Check out muted percussive strumming.
Forget about chords sounding out, wrap your fingers loosely around the neck and touch the strings to dampen them all. Start off with a slow-ish tempo, a drum backing track or something. Begin with four down strums to get into a groove. Then wind it up a bit and play 1/8ths all four downs and all four ups.
You should really be feeling very rhythmical by now. Just enjoy the guitar as a percussive instrument. Drop some down hits but keep the ups. Always keep the down hit on the count of one though.
This is not a magic bullet. It could improve your confidence, feel and vibe for strumming though.

Cheers :blush:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide & Moderator

Hi @Opajoe I can honestly relate to you. When I started towards the end of last year I found strumming to be one of my biggest weaknesses.

As @sairfingers recommended I started with a 0.39 pick which is very forgiving. I kept to that pick size and gradually increased the pick size.

As @Richard_close2u recommends mute the strings and practice strumming without worrying about chord changes etc.

I always highly recommend Justin’s Strumming Techniques Course. I felt it really help me out with my strumming.

I can strum different patterns ok but when I start to sing or even run the lyrics through my mind I start strumming every syllable and the strumming pattern goes out the window. How do I fix that?

Hey Geoffrey,

Check out this lesson by Justin. Lots of helpful info.



1 Like

Thanks Shane! Looks helpful for my problem. I’ll be working on this!!!

Trying to learn strumming for funk guitar, I find the pick moves around much more than for other types of strumming. Exploring different picks, I have found that 0.88 or 1.0 picks with a grip seem to work best for me, but they still prove hard to hold in one position as I strum (and tap on the beat, and say “one e and a” in my head!)

I have problem with up-strumming .
for down strumming, when I do all these techniques (like using thin pick, hold the pick very loosely, keep the rythem,…), I can get something close to what I like to hear.
However when I start adding up strumming, then I lose control on down strumming and then the down strums don’t look like each other.
I thought through this and I realized the reason for this is that Justin (and many others) say when doing up-strumming, take your hand outward (so that it only hits the few lower strings). This movement, leads for hand to ends up somewhere , other then where started my down strum. So I have to correct my hand again and get ready for the next down-strum. And of course it takes a second or 2 to get ready for the next one.
So what is the solution here?