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Strumming patterns for beginners

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Here are several strumming patterns that will come handy, especially on almost all songs that are easy to play, or on scores for beginners.

Basics required for this lesson : None
Practice this lesson : None

Before we get started, in case you can read a minimum music theory, don’t waste your time reading this tutorial, go straight to the strumming patterns section in the Riff Library. There, you will find full rhythm instructions and the corresponding audio files, ranked by level.

For the other players, here is a brief explanation about the alternative way of reading guitar strumming patterns.

The UP/DOWN Pattern

This way of displaying rhythm patterns consists in splitting the rhythm in a simplistic (and not so accurate) format, based on alternating DOWN/UP movements from the strumming hand.

You will see below how this is actually displayed. In the meantime here’s this format should be read:

  • DOWN corresponds to a downstroke (from the top to the bottom of the guitar)
  • UP corresponds to an upstroke (from the bottom to the top of the guitar)
  • Strokes that are hightlighted in red (DOWN or UP) must be strummed,
  • All the other strokes correspond to hand strumming in the air (i.e. hand not touching the strings).

The most important thing to remember is that your right hand should never stop making the UP/DOWN movement. Why that? First, to start keeping up the rhythm, and then, because otherwise, this writing method would make no sense !

The basic eighth-note strumming pattern

DOWN UP DOWN UP DOWN UP DOWN UP

You can play half a measure of this pattern: DOWN UP DOWN UP

 

 

The basic sixteenth-note strumming pattern

DOWN UP DOWN UP DOWN UP DOWN UP ~ DOWN UP DOWN UP DOWN UP DOWN UP

  • You can play the full pattern on one same chord (and even repeat it several times),
  • You can play the pattern and split it in 2 on 2 different chords (changing chord at the sign ~)
  • You can play half a measure of this pattern: DOWN UP DOWN UP DOWN UP DOWN UP

Simple strumming patterns

  1. DOWN UP DOWN UP DOWN UP
  2. DOWN UP DOWN UP DOWN UP DOWN UP
  3. DOWN UP DOWN UPThe second UP is used to change chords (play open strings) which creates a bit of an effect, therefore avoiding this pattern to sound too basic.

More eighth-note strumming patterns

DOWN low UP DOWN UP DOWN UP DOWN UP
 

More sixteenth-note strumming patterns

DOWN UP DOWN UP Block DOWN UP DOWN UP DOWN UP Block DOWN UP DOWN UP DOWN UP

Get used to playing it well without the « block » parts, and once you reached it, then you may include the string « blocking ».
It’s basic but you can already play a few great songs with these rhythm patterns. Obviously, there are many more patterns to see!

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Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.
(Ludwig van Beethoven)