How to simply create advanced strumming rhythms.

Each beginning guitarist sooner or later faces one difficulty while playing chords rhythmically: The strumming pattern you use soon bores you to death. Or you play your favorite chord progression but it sounds stale because your strumming pattern does not fit? If you feel that way, read on because there is one simple method to solve that problem once an for all. 

Simple Strumming Pattern

The simplest strumming pattern for a 4/4 meter is an even rhythm. This means hitting the strings with a downstroke on each beat. You would count one measure like this: 1 2 3 4. And with this most simple strumming pattern you would hit the strings at the same time as the number is counted. 

Most campfire strumming rhythms are structured in eighth notes. This means for each beat you strum the strings twice. This rhythm is typically counted in this manner: 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and. On every number and on every and you hit the strings. Usually you would use downstrokes on the numbers and upstrokes on the “and”s. This strumming pattern is still not very advanced.

Here comes the interesting part. You delete a number of those eighth notes. Let’s go straight into examples:

Example of Strumming Pattern
Example for deleting one eighth note:

You could erase the second eighth note. This would be the first “and”. You would count the rhythm like this: 

1 ___ 2 and 3 and 4 and

D (U) D U D U D U ← This shows you the picking direction. 

D stands for downstroke and U for upstroke

Example of deleting two eighth notes:

This is a typical campfire strumming pattern and many folk songs are played this way. Erase the second and the fifth eighth note. These are the first “and” and the “3”. This leaves us with: 

1 ___ 2 and ___ and 4 and

D (U) D U (D) U D U

The possibilities are vast and you can find many patterns that support the ideas you want to transport. Each of those patterns puts the emphasis on a different part of the measure, so you have to check whether strumming pattern A fits to the song B. But that is the fun part! 

Get Creative with Your Strumming Patterns

You now know how the most common strumming patters are build. Get creative! Use them with your favorite songs or write a new song with your unique strumming pattern underneath. 

Try experimenting with the method. Here are some ideas to keep you challenged:

1.) Your strumming forearm should always be moving up and down. Your wrist decides whether to hit the strings or not.

2.) To give yourself a bit of extra time to change chords erase out the last eighth note.

3.) Try accenting the off beats/upstrokes. Personally, I like that sound a lot.

About Author:

Rene Kerkdyk is the guitar instructor for Rock Gitarre Hildesheim, Germany. This is the leading guitar school in Hildesheim and the only place if you search for Gitarrenunterricht in Hildesheim.