Beginner Guitar – Learn to Strum

Learn To Strum

Strumming can be the toughest part of getting a professional sound from your guitar playing. Strumming is all about a light, even ‘brushing’ of the strings.  

Start with fingering an open chord, “G-major” for example. try to strum lightly and ‘wide’ (bring your pick up to nearly the top of the guitar and let your hand fall). Try to evenly ‘brush’ the strings. Practice this until your strums are timed well, like a clock, and sound like your instructor’s strums if you have one – smooth and even. Keep in mind that most beginners:

  • Strum too hard; try to let the hand fall and “brush” over the strings. 
  • Hold the pick too tightly; loosely hold the pick for a more pleasing strum tone.
  • Strum too narrow; the wider the strum, the more blended the tone. Bring your strumming hand almost to the top of the guitar body, and strum it almost to the bottom.  
  • Strum unevenly; it takes practice, but after a while you learn to strum evenly so that your strum sounds well balanced.

If incorporating up-strums (i.e. eighth note strums), the up-strum is very light, and is generally just the bottom two or three strings. Many beginners make the mistake of making the up-strum as full as the down strum, and this is not the case.

Using your thumb to mute the low-e string when playing open chords is an essential skill which allows you to always strum all strings without restriction. For example, on a “C-major” chord you’re not supposed to sound out the low-e string. Rather than restrict your strum to not strum that string, use your thumb to lightly touch the string and mute it. Doing that means that you can strum the “C” chord (and any chord) without restriction for a seamless chord transitions.  

An instructor can really come in handy here with showing you proper strum technique. 

If you are interested in learning more beginner guitar techniques, see our book “Learn to Play Guitar for Adult Absolute Beginners“.

If you are a beginner guitarist, a few lessons with a professional instructor can go a long way.  If you’re not local to Manchester, New Hampshire, we offer online guitar lessons, which are fun, affordable, and can really help, especially if you’re struggling in a particular area. You can schedule an online lesson HERE. We would love to help you out, either in-studio, or online. Happy learning!

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