Proper Strumming Techniques

One of the most common challenges that beginner guitar players have is developing proper strumming techniques and learning how to figure strum patterns for songs.

David Taub from Next Level Guitar put together some tips and a free video lesson to help you along in your guitar journey.

This lesson is designed more for beginners but more seasoned players may find some benefit from it.


QUESTION: Hey David, my strumming sounds very stiff and my down-strums sound much louder than my up-strums. What can I do about this??! I'm getting frustrated trying to learn strum patterns. HELP!!

ANSWER: Okay, before I give you some killer tips to fix this, let me say that I created an awesome, “all-in-one” solution to all things strumming. It's called “Strumming & Rhythm Techniques Made Simple and you can check it out here.

Okay, now let's talk about strumming! Strumming/strum patterns and rhythm is a very common challenge to beginner players. To help you with these challenges I want to share some tips and also a video lesson on how to take the frustration out of strumming and rhythm.


Let's start with the proper strumming mechanics – the physical movement of hitting the strings and movement of your strumming hand and arm.

First, I will list out some tips below and then you can watch me demonstrate the techniques in the video lesson below. Remember, the proper technique is pretty critical in getting a loose, rhythmic feel!


1. Do NOT lock the wrist or be too “wristy.” You want a very loose feel and you get this by using your arm and not your wrist. Picking is more wrist – strumming is more arm. I see so many students who try to play with this tight locked wrist and very herky-jerky strumming motions. Keep a loose feel and remember not to tighten the wrist or arm. Just hold the pick tight enough so it doesn't spin in your hand – loose feel is key!

2. Bend at the ELBOW. Remember to use the arm and pivot at the elbow — its all in the arm! Bend the arm at the elbow and let gravity drop the arm through the strings. Pretend like your elbow is the hinge and you are dropping the arm straight down and back up.

3. Have a wide swath or distance of strum. Exaggerate the strum movement from the top of the guitar body to the bottom of body, a very wide, long swath — just don't strum from the top of low E string to bottom of high e string, that's too narrow. You want wide long strum swaths.

4. Let the pick and gravity do the work. Once you make contact with the strings let gravity send that pick cutting through the strings and keep bending at the elbow and don't lock the wrist. Also, glide the pick through the strings. Don't bury the pick way deep into the strings as you will have to fight to get it out and then to the next string — just the tip of the pick is all you need. That, along with gravity and a bent elbow and you are golden!

5. Have a consistent VERTICAL plane. The strum should be very vertical from top to bottom. Don't trail off your strum at the end of the down-strum as this will move the pick away from the guitar body. Then you wont be hitting all the strings and your chords won't be full sounding. Keep that strum in a straight vertical plane working through all the strings up and down.

Now watch this video lesson where I demonstrate all the above techniques and remove the mystery of learning strum patterns.


I also teach you how to break strums down and how to understand and digest them rhythmically – This was part of a series of lessons with this one covering strumming and rhythm.

After you watch the above lesson and start practicing these techniques, your strumming will improve quickly, I promise!!


Would you like to learn every secret I know about strumming and rhythm?

Then check out this 3-DVD course that leaves no strumming stone unturned. You will learn to play rhythmically by feel and eventually be able to hear the rhythms and play strums just by listening to them by ear. You will learn how to unlock an endless array of strum patterns and rhythms to expand your repertoire.

Whether you play acoustic or electric it does not matter as this DVD course takes the frustration out of learning to strum and the frustration out of learning strum patterns. You will also learn how to embellish your rhythms to get your rhythm playing sounding MUSICAL.

And these techniques are essential for any genre of music you play – whether you prefer rock, blues, pop, funk, country, bluegrass, folk, classic rock – whatever the genre – these techniques will give any guitarist invaluable tools and techniques that will be with your throughout your guitar journey.

Go here to check out this program now: