That simple up-and-down stroke you make across the strings of your guitar, with your fingers or a pick is called strumming – a guitar technique that is important but often underestimated. It doesn’t matter if you are a pop, metal or a rock musician – at some point you are going to want to strum the guitar. The truth is also that it is relatively simple for most guitarists with even just a bit of playing experience to learn specific strumming patterns and with some practice they come very much in handy when a certain song or style requires it.
A good strumming technique is definitely a skill in the toolkit of every pro and hobby guitarist so why not add it right away? Below you will find everything you need to kick off your strumming for free – essential tips for getting the most from your strumming exercises, a worksheet with exercises for all levels and a video tutorial where you can hear and see for yourself.
So here is how you should start:
1. Get some picks.
Unless you insist on strumming with your bare fingers, you’ll need picks. They vary in thickness so it will be best if you buy a multipack with varied ones, to choose the one that suits you best personally. Once you settle on what’s most comfortable, I suggest you get some extra picks of that thickness, because you are going to lose some for sure!
It is also CRUCIAL to hold the pick right. But we have you covered on that too – here is a video on how to hold your pick that will teach you all you need to know!
2. Loosen your wrist
In order to strum the guitar correctly you should make sure you are not locking your wrist: remember always not to strum just from your elbow. You need to relax and use some wrist motion. Otherwise you risk causing yourself an injury to the elbow, or just getting tired faster.
3. Don`t stop moving your strumming hand
Your strumming hand needs to be moving at all times, even when you’re not hitting any strings for a couple of beats. This way you will save yourself a lot of worrying about whether you need to move your hand up or down next as it will already be in the correct position. It will be much easier to be in rhythm and will save you some space in your mind to think about other components of your performance.
4. No need to hit all the strings every time
Don`t let worrying over how to hit all the correct strings get you all worked up and stressed when strumming. You might think you need to hit all the strings from a chord with every strum, but that’s not the case. Just remember that less strings is always better than hitting the wrong ones and aim for the higher strings. Remember that your main job is to keep up the groove. Don`t worry, you will get it with some practice!
5. Get excited!
Yes, that’s right! More than any other guitar technique, good strumming depends on enthusiasm. The simplicity and immediacy of strumming needs a bit of enthusiasm to really bring to life any melody. If you don`t believe that, try it for yourself – once you’ve roughly learned how to strum a song, record yourself playing it. Now put the guitar down and watch a live performance of that song – one that would really inspire you. Now get back to the guitar and pour that energy into your next performance and record it again. Can you hear the difference? Now that is the enthusiasm!
Now that you know all of that you are ready for some exercises! GET THEM HERE. And do not worry on which step of your strumming journey you are – the levels here vary from 1 to 7 so there is something for you in there for sure!An image is a worth a thousand words they say, so how much would a video be? In any case, here is also a FREE video lesson on strumming to top off everything you learned so far: