Musical Strumming Tips

Welcome to video eleven of the Beginner Guitar Quick-Start Series. In this lesson we’re going go over a strumming pattern to make your playing a little bit more musical. In the last lesson we went through the G, D, A minor 7, C progression, keeping the strumming really simple. We did that so you could focus on your chord change. In this lesson we’re going to learn a more musical. If your chord transitions aren’t quite perfect yet don’t feel like you can’t move on to the ideas in this lesson.


The first thing you we need to cover is how to count sixteenth notes. Up to this point we’ve been counting quarter notes “1 2 3 4”. In order to count sixteenth notes you need to give each beat, or each number, in the “1 2 3 4” four syllables. Count “1 e and ah 2 e and ah 3 e and ah 4 e and ah”. You may feel a little bit silly doing this, but count out loud using that counting system. Do that over and over again until you get used to it.

This new strumming pattern incorporates an upstroke. Don’t feel like you have to strum through all six strings when using your upstrokes. I only hit the top three to five strings when I use my upstrokes. Another tip I want to give you for your upstrokes, and your downstrokes for that matter, is that you don’t have to dig into the strings with a ton of your pick. All you have to use is the very tip. If you dig in with too much of the pick that can make it really hard to get the pick through the strings. Experiment with that. Don’t dig in too much, and don’t feel like you have to hit all six strings with your upstrokes.

The counting for the new strumming pattern is, “1 2 and ah”. So if you have “1 e and ah” you’re going to have a downstroke on “1” that will last through the entire beat, “1 e and ah”. Next, you have a downstroke on “2” and that’s going to ring out through “2 e”, and then you’re going to have a downstroke on “and” and an upstroke on “ah”. When you get to “3 e and ah 4 e and ah” it’s the same exact thing. Basically what we’re going to be doing is playing that strumming pattern once for each chord in the progression.

When you are first learning this strumming pattern don’t even worry about the chords at first if you don’t want to. If you’re having trouble with it just mute the strings or just stay on one chord. Just get the pattern down. Don’t just lock your wrist and strum from your elbow. That can create some tension. Remember the feather and the honey analogy.

Once you get this down you can apply it to every chord in the chord progression. Here is a trick that will help you with your chord transitions. Make that first G major chord and do the strumming pattern. On the upstroke you can take the G chord off and hit all of the strings open. This will buy you some time to get to the next chord. This is good kind of stepping stone to work on your chord transitions. Don’t be afraid to hit those open strings between those chords. Eventually you’ll want to get to where you can go right to the chords.

Slow this way down if you have to. It doesn’t have to be perfect right away. Remember if you’re having trouble with one particular chord transition, maybe this G to the D, just isolate that. Work on the G to the D. In the next lesson we are going to talk about the next steps you need to take next in your guitar journey.

This Lesson Has 23 Comments

  • zack werdell says:

    These lessons are really awesome! thank you for making these, I’ve always wanted to play but never knew where or how to start. Could you tell me what song this is? I’d really like to start singing as I play

  • Shem DeSouza says:

    I just want to show my appreciation for the beginners guitars lesson thanks I really learn a lot from these tutorials. And those four notes for that song is also the notes for “some like you” by Adele Thanks again.

  • maulik says:

    Thanku sir doing a great job

  • Mammen says:

    Truly motivational tutoring. Keeps me going eagerly. Thank you!

  • faye says:

    the way you teach is awesome. Music has been in my family for years. I never was interested and could care less. My family is all gone now (I’m 67) and now I’m interested in learning to play. Go figure. ha ha!!!
    There is something you can get for your figure tips is called “rock-tips” and it works.
    thanks for doing a great job.

    • Nate Savage says:

      Hey Faye, Yeah, I’ve actually got a bottle of that at home that someone gave me, but I’ve never used it. I figure it might come in handy one day if I cut my finger or something.

  • Rachit says:

    how CAn I ever thank u Nate for this series………..
    thanks a lot man….

  • Shannon hopkins says:

    help! i’m stuck in this lesson, my left hand moves so slow on the strings,
    any suggestions?

    • Nate Savage says:

      Make sure that you have the individual chords learned very well so you can go right to them on their own before even trying to switch between the chords.

  • George says:

    So I am having trouble counting the “1 e and uh” but i can keep the rhythm steady without doing that. Is that ok or do I need to practise counting ?

    • Nate Savage says:

      Start by practicing counting by itself without playing. If you are good at that and you can play the strumming pattern or picking pattern without counting then you are good to go. It is good to be able to count and play at the same time because you may come across something that is difficult for you to play and you may need to be able to count out loud in order to figure that difficult passage out.

  • Saranga Baishya says:

    i an having problem in chord transition,,means changing from 1 chord to other,,,it takes a lot of time,,although i am practicing but its not working..

  • Mohan says:

    Nate, I bought Silverstone Pro Series from costco. The guitar itself is fine and good sound. But, I am short and have small arms, I’m running fatigue putting the arms around for strumming. Any suggestion on what other guitar I should buy?

    • Nate Savage says:

      Hey Mohan, Is that an acoustic guitar? If so, they do make acoustic guitars with smaller body styles. These body styles are called 000 (triple 0), parlor, or concert style guitars.

  • dana says:

    wow those videos are very helpful thank you :)

  • tj dedviller says:

    Switching between chords is looking like possible But how about that 1 ah e n so on..
    Not able to understand what’s that
    Help needed

  • BEBETO says:

    Thank you sir. I was previously playing the ukulele and recently shifted to guitat. I could make the transitions smoothly then but on the guitar its not smooth. As a singer rhythm is the most crucial part. Could you please tell me how to do the transitions.

  • Hassan says:

    excuse me mate but do you hit all six on the downstroke ?

    And thank you for the posts much appreciation!! :)

    • Nate Savage says:

      Hey Hassan, It depends on what chord I’m making. If it’s a six string chord, like an open G, I generally hit all six strings on the downstroke, but not always.


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