10 Best Guitar Strumming Patterns for Beginners

Picture 52

Steve was 5 minutes late like always.

He was always ready with his guitar which was a good thing. Steve plugged right into the small practice amp that I had in my studio.

“Ok, let’s go over that two hand tap pattern that we covered last week,” I said.

With an immense flurry, Steve was totally ripping on that guitar. For a moment I thought I smelled sulfur.

“How’s that,” Steve said. “Killing.” I replied. “Now let’s do it with a metronome.”

I hooked up my iPhone Tempo app to a small amp and set the tempo. Steve looked confused he had no clue where to start. “Just listen to the beat and tap your foot along with it, find a starter point and begin” I replied.

Steve began playing his flurry of notes and it just fell apart. I then asked him to stop and play some basic guitar strumming patterns.

It was a no go.

Steve had the same issues that 90% of the thousand or so students that walked through my door.

Rhythm and Time!

Don’t worry I got you covered. If you’re starting out and got some basic chords under your fingers and you wanna throwdown some cool basic strum grooves and get the rhythm and timing down pat then this tutorial is for you.

10 best guitar strumming patterns for beginners.

To start off you have got learn how to read these basic guitar strumming diagrams.

Here’s the intro:

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Pattern 1

The diagram you see below contains 4 slashes separated by a vertical bar line followed by 4 more slashes. The first 4 slashes equals 1 bar. In total we have 2 bars.

The vertical line in the middle indicates the first bar and the line at the tail end indicates the second bar.

The slashes indicate a down strum. Therefore each bar contain 4 down strums each for a total of 8 down strums. The “D” equals a down strum.

Now it’s your turn to start strumming. Count out loud the numbers and strum along as you count. Remember, it’s very important to count out loud but don’t shout it because neighbors will think you’re a strange fella.

guitar strumming pattern 1

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I suggest also to tap your foot along as you count because your whole body has to be part of the guitar strumming pattern.

Ok, pick a basic G chord and start practicing and keep the counting as even as possible. Smooth like mash potatoes!

Pattern 2

Now we are going to add an up stroke.

As you can see in the diagram below an upstroke is added on the 4th count of each bar. the “U” equals and up stroke just so you know.
This will give the pattern a bit more flavor instead of just mindless down strokes.

When you reach the 4th count a down and up stroke is required. But, remember the same steady counts as before in the first pattern must be kept even to maintain the rhythm in this pattern as well.

Go ahead and give it a try.

guitar strumming pattern 2

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If you own an iOS or android device you can download Tempo which is a great metronome app that will help you keep time. Timing is very important!

Pattern 3

A bit more interesting. Let’s add the down and up stroke on counts 2 and 4.

This time I would like for you to choose a different chord for each bar instead of the same chord as before.

Don’t forget to use the metronome app to keep time, tap your foot and count out loud.

For this pattern it’s important to evenly play the down and up stroke and fit it into the tempo time frame.

For example: As you reach count 2 for the “DU” stroke, right before count 3 clicks on the metronome you have to be already on the down stroke. Make sure you keep your tempo slow at first so your strumming arm can keep up with the rhythm.

guitar strumming pattern 3

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Pattern 4

Adding the down and up stroke on the third count will cause the strum pattern to seem faster but in reality it’s the same tempo as before.

Attack this rhythm slowly and steady and don’t forget to mix it up and add a couple of different chords to spice it up and make it more musical.

guitar strumming pattern 4

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Pattern 5

Now it’s time fill up both bars “DU” all over the place. Down and up stroke is filled up from counts 1-4.

Don’t go crazy on this one. Add different chords to each measure and when you repeat it change up the chords again.

For example: “G” chord then “Em” chords for the first time round and then try “C” chord to an “Am”.

guitar strumming pattern 5

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Pattern 6

Once you have the basic guitar strumming patterns down pat it’s time to move on to really cool patterns.

The “p” means to smack the strings with an open palm, still keeping your guitar pick of course on your strumming hand. If done right, this pattern is pretty cool.

guitar strumming pattern 6

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Don’t smack the strings like a madman keep it cool baby.

It’s provided to keep tempo and make you sound like you have some rhythm.

Pattern 7

Keeping the same pattern as before we’re just changing it up a bit by adding “DUDU” on counts 3 and 4.

Repeat out loud “DUDU”! Doesn’t it sound like something familiar? Haha, got ya!

If you didn’t get that reference, then you’re pretty slow. 🙂

Ok, give the strum pattern a try and repeat the pattern until it’s smooth.

guitar strumming pattern 7

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Timing is important in this one keep the tempo super steady and grooves or course.

Pattern 8

This one can be a tad tricky. My students sometimes can’t get the basic timing on this bad boy. It starts with a “DU” stroke then a “UDU” stroke. The “R” mean to rest just for that instance. This is what you call an eighth rest which is a short period of rest. It is a small little empty space in between the notes that makes this rhythm cool.

Tons of tunes had used this rhythm. Give it a shot.

guitar strumming pattern 8

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Sounds pretty rad huh?

The feel is most important than anything but with repitition you’ll get it.

Pattern 9

Here comes the cool stuff. Another pretty tricky strum pattern.

Starting on the first 2 counts with “DU” and palm hit, immediately following a down strum, then up strum followed by another palm hit.

guitar strumming pattern 9

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Played at a solid tempo and groove this will really get the ladies dancing! Woot woot!

Pattern 10

The very last pattern. This is a pretty recognizable one. Maybe you can call it out.

For this one we are going to use 4 bars instead of the usual 2 bars that we had in the other patterns. If you observe carefully the first 2 bars they are exactly just like the third and fourth bars.

Also we are going to use down strokes only and the reason is because is will create some drive in this pattern. You’ll see.

The first two bars are simple but as you can see the rest are mostly up strokes on count 3 and 4 on the first bar and counts 1 and 2 on the second bar. The third and fourth counts of the second bar are just simple down strums.

Obviously the third and fourth bars are just the same.

Note: keep every strum short.

Go ahead and knock it out of the park.

guitar strumming pattern 10

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If you guessed it already it’s “Viva la Vida” from the band Coldplay. Of course they use strings to play the rhythm and we’re using a guitar. Also they are playing it another key.

Ok, my friend that’s it for now and I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial.

As always, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or suggestion below and if you have found value in this tutorial please share it with someone who can use it.

Thanks and God bless


{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Ross October 24, 2016, 4:59 am

    Im a beginner 68 years old started playing at 64 had trouble with strumming but your strumming technic is great thanks

    • Roland De Aragon October 25, 2016, 4:08 pm

      Thanks, Ross. Any questions feel free to ask.

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