Guitars Most Important Skill (Strumming)

90% of what we play as guitarists comes down to rhythm guitar. This makes the art and technique of performing rhythm strumming one of our most important skills. In this video, I break down what makes rhythm guitar really come alive. The technical details of rhythm playing that allow a guitarist to truly find their own unique style and sound...

Most rhythm guitar players focus so much on playing the correct strings that they hardly pay any mind to how their strumming effects the overall sound. Strum technique involves both hands, combined with an enormous amount of awareness for feel.

Daily Deal:

As players, we need to learn to line everything up, the fingers, the pick, and the rhythmic feel, and the dynamics, it's a lot to work on, but the pay-off is fantastic...


In the early days of guitar study, it’s important to get comfortable holding /strumming the guitar with a lot of attention being placed upon every chord, and most importantly, the chord tones across each individual chord voicing.

When a guitarist begins becoming more aware of strumming technique, there's a strong tendency to over-analyse things. So, be sure to understand that (at this stage of rhythm strumming), we want progress, not perfection.

You should strive to duplicate parts as best as you can hear them on your favorite recordings. But, you also need to realize that perfection is going to take awhile.

So, with all that said, read through my collection of playing tips that will help you establish more feel, better dynamics and a more natural flow for your rhythm strumming abilities.

1). Shape the chord:
Don't just start strumming guitar with all your concern upon the fretting hands chord layout. Strum with an idea in your mind, that different string areas (string groups) of that chord can have different feels, different sounds, and change as you produce different attacks. How you attack and hit into a chord patterns geometrical design, will shape the sound of what your listener hears.

2). Strum into certain strings:
Aim into strumming, instead of just strumming. Instead of hitting all of the notes of a chord the same way all of the time, hit into strings in different ways. Try hitting from a slightly lower starting position, to attack lower strings. Or, try and drop your forearm by an inch and strum into higher register chord tones. Think of strings in 3-string groups and strum those groups as clusters when you're performing. Isolation is the key when it comes to advanced strumming and the results are fantastic when you eventually master this skill.

3). Adjust the grip of your pick:
Try changing how you are holding the pick, test your grip with lighter or heavier grips onto the guitar pick. This will give you more control and accuracy over applying dynamics. Begin by paying more attention to the amount of pick that you have available for strumming. Then, pay more attention to how light or how heavily you're holding onto the pick.

A firmer grip means greater force and attack. A lighter grip means less force and less dynamics. This is the main contributor to the overall sound of your parts. And, realize that you can adjust this grip at anytime as you're playing any part of a song. This is your key to your personal feel. Once you master the grip, your sound really begins to shape up and take root as your own personal style of playing.

If you begin applying these principles, I think that you’ll be surprised at how quickly you'll improve your strumming technique. By paying attention to the shape of the chord, how you attack that shape, and by learning to strum into specific strings groups changes will occur.

It is important to work intentionally at missing strings (while strumming). It might seem odd in the beginning, but your ability for rhythm guitar will improve drastically through doing this. Also, pay a lot of attention to the way you grip your guitar pick. That's one of the main key factors to strumming dynamics. Once you really nail that, you'll notice some big changes.

And, one more thing, doing this rhythm training is not as hard as it may seem at first. It all starts with a lot of conscious effort. Once you've got that effort applied (with your conscious focus), your rhythm playing is going to change - and it's going to change for the better!



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