Most guitarists spend a huge amount of time on everything except rhythm guitar.
They put time into chords, scales and noodling around for fun.
So much so, that they don`t have the time to work on some of the things that really count – like rhythm guitar...
If guitarists were more efficient with their time and with what they study, most would be much better players in a much shorter space of time. One area that generally lacks efficiency is rhythm playing, and in particular – strumming.
Whether you're a pop player or a metal player, at some point you are going to want to strum the guitar. Ask yourself, how many strum patterns you actually know how to play?
In my experience of teaching beginners, intermediates and players who have mastered many areas of guitar is that they don`t know what or how to strum.
What often happens when I ask a student to play me a strum pattern is, I either get a blank look and they say they don`t know any, or they give me a blank look, think of a song in their head and then play the strum pattern from that song.
There is an importance for every player to study guitar strumming and rhythm technique. Every player needs to be able to call on a variety of different strum patterns at will.
Most guitarists can do this stuff with chords i.e. They can play minor chords for sad sounding music, or major 7ths for a more jazz feel, but they will often have troubles doing this with strum patterns. In the long run, rhythm is often more important than the chords.
That being said, it is relatively simple for most guitarists with even just a bit of playing experience to learn specific strum patterns and practice them, and call on these at will when a certain song or style requires it.
Not only will it make you a better sounding guitar player, but your understanding of rhythm will improve, your timing will improve and your ability to create rhythm parts of your own will increase dramatically. Plus, as you do more work as a guitarist, you will need a larger repertoire of strum patterns to call on.
Simple strum patterns - strum like a rhythm master...
To keep it simple, begin with just 3 strum patterns. These are 3 of the most commonly used patterns in rock, pop and indie music although they are used frequently in genres ranging from folk to metal as well, so it is essential that you learn them.
Have a listen to all the strum patterns in action. These are short chunks of songs or riff ideas that I have created over time using examples of all the strum patterns. If you can`t read the strumming charts below, take a look at our guide on how to read strum patterns.
Strum Pattern 1 – Pop /Rock Strum Pattern
Songs that use this Strum Pattern:
Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl
Green Day – Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)
The Calling – Wherever You Will Go
Foo Fighters – Times Like These
The Fray – How to Save A Life
As you can hear the same strum pattern gives you a very different sound depending on what `groove` you are after. The overall feel is same for both the pop and rock versions but the end result is pretty different.
Strum Pattern 2 – The Indie Rock Strum Pattern
Songs that use The Indie Rock Pattern
Blur – Country House
Eagle Eye Cherry – Save Tonight
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Dani California
Shawn Colvin – Sunny Came Home
Oasis – D’You Know What I Mean?
Strum Pattern 3 – The 16th-Note Groove Strum Pattern
Songs that use The 16th-Note Groove Pattern
Oasis – Live Forever
Passenger – Let Her Go
Bob Dylan – Knockin` on Heavens Door
Ed Sheeran – Skinny Love
Radiohead – Fake Plastic Trees
I hope this guide helps put you on track to learning how how to strum a guitar like a rhythm master!
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