A lot of guitar players want to shred like Jimi, but you need to learn how to strum too. Rhythm guitar may not seem as glamorous, but understand how chords work and feeling the beat will only help your lead playing be more solid. Plus, you can always accompany yourself as a singer or support the full band you’re playing in with rhythmic strumming.
Over your time playing, you’ve probably felt like you hit a wall with your strumming or didn’t know where to go. I’ve been there too, and my students hit that wall all the time. This is when I pull out these 5 strumming patterns every guitarist needs to know. Put your metronome on and master these essential patterns.
Note: D stands for Down, and U stands for Up. If there is no letter, you don’t strum the strings there, but you should keep your hands moving up and down the whole time.
#1 The Non-Stop
It doesn’t get easier than this, but make sure you start here. The up and down motion should continue on just like this pattern even when you leave certain sounds out.
#2 Simple But Fun
This one takes you a step away from the non-stopping pattern above while emphasizing the second and fourth beats. Don’t forget the up and down motion should continue all the time. You just skip the & of 2 and 4.
#3 The Classic
We’re jumping now into the most common pattern of all time. You’ll find this pattern everywhere. It gives an excellent driving feeling by adding some syncopation.
#4 The Driver
In this exercise, we’re pushing even a little more with this pattern by adding an even bigger break. The break draws the audience in even more. Make sure you have a metronome on when you practice this one. The large space makes most players try to speed up through it.
#5 The Lurch
I call this one the Lurch because the absence of a strum on beat 3 almost makes your body want to lean into where the sound should be. I love this one because it shows how the absence of sound can also emphasize the rhythm.
If you’re looking for more practical guitar exercises and tips, there are few better places to go looking than Guitar Tricks. The lessons there are awesome, and I love how detailed they get in developing a player’s technique.
Check out Guitar Tricks online guitar lessons.