Technical : Basic strumming patterns

13 Feb

Hi there!

In previous blogs I’ve explained how you can move all your open chords up the neck and understand how your scales and chords all fit together.

Now you want to be able to link all this together with interesting rhythms and strumming patterns.

From my experience teaching, a lot of guitarists should be spending more time on developing their rhythm and strumming patterns.

As a beginner, if you can learn a bulk load of strumming patterns (15-20 or so), you’ll be apply to apply that to millions of songs.

Most tab on the internet is made by amateurs who really don’t know what they’re doing.

Often the chords will be wrong but most importantly strumming patterns aren’t included in the majority.

Basic strumming patterns are also massively overlooked in many college and grade base teaching.

Let’s go through a few basic rhythmic values to start with:

CROTCHET – this lasts for 1 beat and looks like the below:






In a standard bar of 4/4 timing (4 beats in a bar) you could play 4 of these – play all of these with downstrokes


QUAVER – this lasts for half a beat and looks like the below:







In a standard bar of 4/4 timing you could play 8 of these in total. A lot of the time you’ll alternate between down and upstrokes.

You count quavers as 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

Generally on the 1,2,3,4 you play downstrokes and on the + of each beat play upstrokes

So a full bar of quavers would be DOWN UP DOWN UP DOWN UP DOWN UP

If there are quite a few notes in a bar they will be joined up together to make it easier to read – here are 2 quavers joined together:





Now for our first strumming pattern we are going to play 1 crotchet followed by 2 quavers and then the same again:





You’d count this as 1, 2 +, 3 , 4 +

With your strumming hand you’d play DOWN, DOWN UP, DOWN, DOWN UP

Practice taking 3 chord progressions like A,D and E, C, F and G playing 1 bar of each chord using the above pattern. It’s a really nice pattern and it appears in thousands of songs.

We can now introduce another quaver on the ‘+’ of 3:





You’d count this is 1, 2 +, 3 +, 4 +

With your strumming hand you’d play DOWN, DOWN UP, DOWN UP, DOWN UP

Now for Ties.

Ties are a great way of adding variation to your rhythm playing. See an example below:







What a tie does is extend a note/chords length by connecting an additional note onto it.

This creates variety in your rhythm playing by missing out certain down and upstrokes and letting notes ring longer.

For the above you’d be playing on 1 + but not play on the first half of beat 2.

Now have a go at the below pattern – this song is used in so many songs it’s unbelievable, lots of rock bands like Oasis and Green day use this pattern all the time.







You’d count this as 1, 2 + , 3 + , 4 + BUT you’d not play the note thatn takes up the first half of beat 3 as it’s tied.

With the right hand you’d strum DOWN, DOWN UP, UP, DOWN UP

Have a go with various chord progressions using the above. Half the world away by Oasis and Rod Stewart’s ‘Maggie May’ both use this pattern.

Play along to a metronome with the ability to split up the bars into quavers

Thanks for reading


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Posted by on February 13, 2012 in Sightreading and Strumming


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