Basic Guitar Strumming Patterns

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Learn To Play Basic Guitar Strumming Patterns

In this guitar lesson we are going to cover some basic guitar strumming patterns. Strumming patterns are something that most beginners struggle with until they have learned a few. Once they get a few in their head, a light bulb usually comes on and they can begin to figure out other strumming patterns and even make up their own. The five strumming patterns that we have chosen are all in the key of G and move from very simple to more complex. We have provided you with the tab and notation for the five strumming patterns that we will be learning as well as the chord diagrams for the chords that we will be using. Be sure to pay attention to the up and down stoke indicators for your left hand located at the bottom of each line of tab. Learn how to read guitar tabs and notation here!

The first strumming pattern that we will be learning is a straight quarter note pattern. Your right hand is using all down strokes.

Download the sheet music for the 1st strumming pattern here!

The second strumming pattern is very similar to the first one. Instead of playing all quarter notes we will be using all eighth notes. This means that you will have twice as many notes to strum. Instead of using all down stokes, try alternating up and down strokes to make your strumming more efficient.

Download the sheet music for the 2nd strumming pattern here!

Our third strumming pattern is a combination of eighth notes and quarter notes. Think of this strumming pattern as playing a group of three eighth notes, one quarter note and another group of three eighth notes. This strumming pattern would be great in a ballad.

Download the sheet music for the 3rd strumming pattern here!

You may have heard something like this fourth pattern if you listen to Three Doors Down or other alternative pop bands. This strumming pattern is made up of groups of four sixteenth notes. If you look at the strumming pattern for your right hand, you will see that it is just four alternating down and up strokes. This is indicated at the bottom of each line of tab. You will probably notice that there are some rests between the groups of sixteenth notes. When a rest is indicated, make sure that you mute the strings and do not let them ring out.

Download the sheet music for the 4th strumming pattern here!

The last strumming pattern that we are going to learn may look a bit intimidating on the sheet music, but it really is not that hard. I suggest that you watch this pattern several times to get it into your head before trying to read the rhythms on the sheet music.

Download the sheet music for the 5th strumming pattern here!

Take these basic strumming patterns and use them as a stepping stone to start figuring out some strumming patterns in your favorite songs.

Basic Strumming Patterns

This Lesson Has 55 Comments

  • Bhim pradhan says:

    hi,i am 47 years old an i like to learn to play guitar from you so please help me. thanks.

    • KAPIL says:


    • Alex Velasco says:

      Ach nu panget ka

    • Supriya says:

      hi i am learning guitar lessons but i feel the guitar i m carrying is big for me …is it possible i mean does it happen to everyone that their shoulder start getting hurt or its my guitar giving me pain ?

    • Yuri says:

      that, I’m going to put a llitte scare into you. I have known folks who have spent years and years and years with a banjo, but still can’t make their Chords, either quickly or properly. You may well wonder how such a thing can be. Well, near as I can tell, it’s all in how they practice. I’ve got a couple secrets about the best way to practice. Want to know what they are? Well, OK…if you insist. First, never put your banjo in the case. Never..ever..unless you’re traveling with it, do you want to put your banjo in the case. I don’t care if enough dust settles on it to give it a fuzzy appearance from a few feet away, never put it in the case. Why? Because of convenience, that’s why. How many times have you had five or ten minutes before having to get up and run off to do whatever? Have you ever thought of using those few minutes for a llitte banjo practice? Sure you have! Problem is, by the time you get the banjo out of the closet, or out from under the bed, get it out of the case, fumble around for your picks and go through the tuning, all you have time left to do is to put it back in it’s case and put it away. You’ve just spent five or ten minutes practicing “banjo case”. Now, if that banjo had been left out where you could’ve just grabbed it up, think of how much time would add up in a month of llitte five and ten minute sessions, now and then. And, really, these can be some of your best sessions! You’ve not set any particular goal for yourself. You’re not expecting to delve into any intense concentration on any one thing in particular. You’re mind is relaxed and your muscles are at ease. You may be surprised at how, at so many times like these, you’ll be doing so well…and not really expecting to…that you wish you could just “blow off” whatever it is that you have to do and just keep on picking. But, I can hear you saying, “Jesse, you just don’t know how much of a dangerous place my house is!” I’m sure it is. None the less, there has to be someplace you can stash a banjo. One of my pals kept his under the couch. Another kept his behind the couch. Another bought a special hanger and kept his hung up on the wall. I even knew one guy who kept his in his gun cabinet. What ever you have to do, keep that banjo out of the case and handy, just in case. (Sorry ’bout that.) My other secret? Practice while you watch TV. You don’t need your picks. Just touch the strings, lightly. You’ll be training your hands and fingers. You’ll be teaching them “reach” and “feel”. They’ll be learning how high they have to “step” to get from one string to the other and how firmly they have to react to those strings. You’ll be building accuracy and strength. Professionals call it, “familiarizing yourself with your instrument” and there’s no better way to do it. Here again, you’re not concentrating intently on accomplishing any one thing in particuliar. You’re relaxed. You’re entertained. In short, you’re “in the zone”. If your mind is free, then you’ll be surprised how freely your thoughts and actions will flow. Plus, there’s no better way to tune out those annoying commercials than with a llitte banjo interlude. You’re going to want to. Oh yes, you’re going to want to. It’s practice time. What have you got to lose.

    • monica says:

      i cnt play barre chords….help me out through this…
      reply soon

    • jon says:

      that’s what i exactly want to know yuri!

  • harshit says:

    hi i am 18 years old and i am from India. I LIKE TO PLAY GUITAR ALONE SO PLEASE HELP ME TO LEARN BAR CHORDS.

    • ofertas de viajes a croacia says:

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  • prateek says:

    i am not able to pic the second last strumming pattern..could u please slow it down a little.

  • LeighAnn says:

    Hello, great web site! I see you have two slightly different g chords shown above, when a song calls for a g major chord do you use the one that uses all four fingers (third finger added to the b string 3rd fret)… is it personal preference or does it not matter? Are they essentially the same chord?

    • Nate Savage says:

      Hey LeighAnn,
      It is really personal and stylistic preference. The 4 finger version sounds a bit different. If I was playing more modern sounding music I would probably the 4 finger version. If I was playing bluegrass or folk I would definitely play the 3 finger version.

  • Marco says:

    Excelente lecciones gracias .. Amigo por tu tiempo… DTB

  • Andy/Wiggo says:

    Ten minutes, and I`m playing Knocking on Heavens door!(kind of). Your easy manor, and three way video lessons, make learning a whole lot easier. Cheers mate!

  • pouria says:

    hey nate i was wondering how is your schedule for the lessons?i mean should watch em like one by one?

    • Helbi says:

      when I was trinyg to tell a friend that at least one person in Singapore is playing Rock Band, I showed him her website. She doesn’t blog only about games, but there is a consistency in it that is hard to

  • manish says:

    hi sir thaks for this !

    • Supriya says:

      hi i am learning guitar lessons but i feel the guitar i m carrying is big for me …is it possible i mean does it happen to everyone that their shoulder start getting hurt or its my guitar giving me pain ?

    • tgsystem says:

      Yep, I have heard of peoples arm/shoulder/neck hurting before. you might want to look into a guitar with a smaller body style. Something like a parlor or concert style guitar might work well for you.

  • Supriya says:

    hi tgsystem …..thanks for responding back .

  • Supriya says:

    sad that i cant change my guitar now , an have to practice with that guitar only

    • tj says:

      Don’t know if you still have the same problem but I purchased a rogue learners guitar from amazon for less than $50.00. It doesn’t sound awful and when you can afford a decent small guitar you can always just use the rogue as a spare or travel guitar.

  • Felicitas P. Calicdan says:

    Nate, why do you have to use your thumb on D/F#

  • Felicitas P. Calicdan says:

    It’s a good thing we can make our own strumming patterns

  • abhijay masih says:

    sory but i m nt able to read d music sheet so i m asking dat if u can show me how to read d music sheet of struming patern….???

  • Deek says:

    Very useful aid. Been playing guitar and uke for some time, but always looking for something new to keep it interesting.

    One thing I’d suggest…..on the PDF lessons, at least the strumming patterns, it would probably help if you listed the chord name along with tabs and the music notation itself. I know you have a diagram of the chord on the parent page, but just the name on the pdf, like just above the tab, would be very helpful I think.


  • Mike Duck says:

    You say in an earlier video that when you play chords to have your left thumb on the bottom part of the neck. Underneath it.
    When you play chords in this video your left thumb is around the neck muting certain strings.
    I’ve heard a lot of teachers say NOT to have the thumb around the neck but underneath it.
    To me it makes sense to have the thumb around the neck for muting purposes or to play the f# on the D chord.

  • guitar lessons oregon says:

    Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in truth used to be a leisure account it. Look advanced to far added agreeable from you! However, how could we communicate?

  • abhinav garg says:

    hey nate
    I am learning an acoustic guitar using your website, and believe me nate. This is the best stuff available on the net and that too an open source :P . I can not even expect more than this.. Its been only one week that i bought KAps semi acoustic guitar an i am able to play many strumming pattern very easily . Thanks to u. Cheers :))

  • Ankit Raghubanshi says:

    Hey Nate, what you are doing here is awesome. I cant believe that I have actually started to make the chords sound and can play songs on the guitar. Thanks a ton mate.

  • Name says:

    My brother recommended I would possibly like this blog. He was entirely right. This put up truly made my day. You cann’t consider simply how so much time I had spent for this information! Thank you!

  • Bluesy says:

    Hi Nate,

    Congratulations for this fantastic site.

    I want to leave a comment with respect to the pattern 3. I was trying to practice it and I realize it is more easy to do:

    Down, Up, Down, Up + Up, Down, Up instead of what it is proposed
    (Down, Up, Down, Up + Down, Up, Down). It is probably a matter of taste but I prefer it for 2 reasons: Once you have finished, your hand is ready to go down again and the right hand movement is constantly going up and down:
    Down, Up, Down, Up, (Down without playing) + Up, Down, Up

    Let me know what do you think I am maybe missing something.


  • tj says:

    Great site thanks for all your efforts.

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  • Solomon says:

    Great site to learn, Guitar Skills…

  • Solomon says:

    I would also appreciate if you send me few Guitar notes to my email ID…

    Thanks in advance…

  • shrikanth says:

    thanks for all these

  • aguma isaac says:

    hi i
    am isaac and i have played the guitar 4 7month and i am able to play the bar cords now but i feel like i need a white teacher to teach mi more cause i want to be the best in the all world

  • abhishek says:

    i am abhishek i am learning guitar from 3or5 months but i cannot tell the chords and strumming pattern by listening the song so can you tell me how to know the strumming and chords by listening the songs

    thanks in advance

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    Blog génial. J’ajoute ce message à mes favoris.

  • Proctor88m says:

    Great lessons Nate. Just one question. How do you skip strings on Strumming Patterns 5 and 3?

  • Soma says:

    I’m struggling with smooth chord changes and I sound nothing like your videos..please help. I’ve been tying to learn for weeks now.

  • alyh ronquillo says:

    Thank you for this guitar lesson. I still have more basic to learn. I’m just starting.

  • RAM S says:

    Excellent Lessons , thanks for the same Nate.

  • Guitar learner Chris says:

    Good morning all, at least it’s morning where I live. My name is Chris Wadlington, and I started playing guitar after I had brain surgery in 2007. Playing guitar went from being a therapy to a joy when I realized how much I could do with it. Anyway my reason for commenting, even-though I have owned my Yamaha acoustic since Christmas of ’07, I still have questions that need answering. Some of you might be able to chime in right away. I am wondering how to play the E Major Chord on the 7th fret. I understand first position fairly well but obviously this is not first position.

    Neat site

    Guitar Player Chris, Over and Out

    • Nate Savage says:

      Hey Chris. Sounds like you are trying to make an E bar chord. Make a bar across the 1st-5th strings with your 1st finger on the 7th fret. Now put your 2nd finger on the 9th fret of the 4th string, 3rd finger on the 9th fret of the 3rd string, and 4th finger on the 9th fret of the 2nd string. Hope that helps. :)

  • Md yousuf says:


  • Mike says:

    Very excited! After a month of practicing and getting my left hand stronger I’m finally starting to see improvement. I can switch between 8 chords without stopping to find where fingers go.

  • .Don Jordan says:

    hi nate i have started .playing two months ago and going well with your lessons . im a bit slow as my age is 82 . i need more gogo on the rhythm and strummimg.i do all the free lessons . thanks a lot don

    • Nate Savage says:

      Hey Don, Good to hear from you. Have you signed up for The Strumming Boot Camp here on It’s a great free course that will help your rhythm.

  • Tom Smart says:

    Hi Nate, my name is Tom and i am 15 soon and have only recently wanted to play the guitar. the reason i want to play the guitar is because my dad played guitar in a band a while ago and they were very good in my opinion. my problem is that i have his old acoustic and i am not very good, i can play a few little bits such as the cave by mumford and sons well without the f chord as i cant play it and the solo from the beatles song day tripper. i stumbled across your website and liked the look so i came on to it and had a look at the begginer quick start course and i took notes, i have been practising from my notes but i am still not getting much better. i wanted to know if there was anything that you had to suggest to me that might help me to become better at guitar, and then maybe even follow in my dads footsteps and be in a band. i also used to play the drums and did a few grades of which i passed with distinctions and so i thought that i would look at the drum stuff that is on this website and i thought that what it says and shows is absolutely amazing and that is what i was told to do when i had lessons, i also had piano lessons and so i have quite a musical ability, but out of all the instruments that i have ever played my favourite has always been the guitar. please if yo uhave any advice what so ever the please reply with it as i really like your website and i really wish to progress in playing the guitar as i want to be able to play my crushes favourite song for her, only one problem it is a really rather advanced song and like i said i am only a begginer and am relying on you and yuor site to help me get passed begginer and being able to play guitar like my dad used to and still can so i can play my crush her favourite song so that she will go out with me. please reply,
    many thanks Nate

    • Nate Savage says:

      Hey Tom, sounds like you need to give it some consistent practice and time. Also, it sounds like you are already learning songs, and that’s great. You should pick out a few more songs that you like and try to learn them. It’s important to apply everything you learn or work on to real music.


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