Guitar Techniques FAQ

This page features answers to questions asked by practicing guitarists, including tips on strumming, palm muting, thumb position and more. Check out even more lessons on technique on our Featured Topics page.

  • Like just about anything, strumming (and coming up with strumming patterns) can be learned fairly easily. But, and again like just about anything, how good you get will depend on how much effort you put into it. Some people are naturally talented in this area while others will have to work at it.

    Surprisingly, the quickest way to learn how to strum doesn’t even involve touching your guitar. Really. Sit back and listen to some music. Any music will do, but if it just so happens to be a song you’re trying to learn, then more power to you. Now, listen. Hear the beat. Listen to the drums and the bass. Tap your feet with the rhythm. Take whichever hand you strum with, rest it on your thigh and tap out a pattern. Start simply … really simply if you have to. Even if it’s just tapping out every beat or every other beat. Once you have a pattern you like, repeat it until you are happy with your consistency. Are you able to keep up with the other instruments? Does your pattern copy theirs? If not (and it really doesn’t have to), does it add to the overall rhythm? Does it overwhelm the rhythm?

    Here’s a trade secret for strumming. Get a snare drum book. It will teach just about every possible 4/4 pattern there is. Just pick a bar chord and follow the pattern of note. Use a rake and muffle the strings for the rests. Try shifting to different chords during these patterns. Go through the whole book and that should cover just about every rhythm out there. Do each each exercise until you don’t think about it anymore. It should go from a mathematical counting pattern to a feel. Once you feel the rhythm, move on the next exercise.

    For a longer answer see the lesson Keeping Up With The Times.

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