Do you want to make your strumming sound better on the guitar?

Do you want to make your strumming sound better on the guitar?

Do all your songs sound the same, or do you struggle to sound like the song at all? 

This problem that you are having is really common and its one I often get asked by students. They say to me "How can I get better at strumming patterns?" or "Can you teach me more strumming patterns" on the guitar. 

strumming guitar lesson acoustic

Most of the students who are struggling with this problem really just want the songs they play on the guitar to sound better and are sick of just playing one chord at a time. Or they have one strumming pattern which they use for every song, so everything sounds the same. 

So they have diagnosed the problem as not knowing enough strumming patterns. If this sounds like you - I can help you.

The first step is to acknowledge what your real goal is here with trying to learn more strumming patterns… Is it because you want to collect strumming patterns? 

Or do you really want to make your guitar playing sound better? 

acoustic strumming guitar lesson

If you just want to go and collect strumming patterns  in that case learning strumming patterns is the way to go. However, that path will likely lead to you having to go and learn a new strumming pattern for every song that you go and learn and it require quite a lot of effort to play each of the different strumming patterns because you'll be only looking at the rhythm for each and every song you work on. 

A better way to solve that problem would be to be able to work on the ability to work on any strumming pattern on your guitar by learning how to train rhythm correctly when you play. 

Observe the pattern below

Pattern 1

Pattern 1

  1. Begin by muting your guitar strings with your fretting hand (so that we don’t get lots of extra noise. 
  2. Strum down and up with your right hand while also SAYING out loud the beat numbers at the same time.
    1. You should sound like this "One And Two And Three And Four And"
    2. All the beats should be evenly spaced in time. No gaps should be longer than another.
    3. Note how when you are on a 1,2,3 or 4 your arm is ALWAYS making a downward strum
    4. When you are on the "Ands' or the '+' you are always playing an up strum. 

Now we are going to start learning how to play more interesting strumming patterns: 

To create a new strumming pattern, all I need to do is remove downs or ups from the strumming key line.  

Pattern 2

Pattern 2

I have put two examples here labelled pattern 1 and 2.

Make sure when you make up your own strumming patterns using the method above that you make sure that the Downs and Ups are in the right place. 

Down always on 1 2 3 4

Up always on And (+)

When you practice it you need to always be moving your hand as if it was playing down and up all the time. 

Can you see how on patterns 1 AND 2 there is nothing on the AND (+) after the 1. Even though you don’t strum through the strings here, your hand is still going to move upwards - but it will do so without hitting the strings. 

Rhythm is so important to work on and will make a huge difference to your playing. This is a great exercise to get you started right away on the guitar. 




More guitar tricks for beginner guitar players

In this part of the series, we are going to look at some of the challenges beginner guitar players have with their chords and strumming and on top of that look at how you can be practising your songs more efficiently so you can get more progress in less time.

How to make your chords sound better

It is very common for beginner guitar players to struggle to get their chords to sound “good”.  One of the problems they get with their chord playing is this buzzy sound. If this is something you get when you play your chords, then look at how we can resolve that.

What often happens is they get their chord shape with their fingers perfectly, and when they press down, the strings are not in contact with the fretboard hard enough. Which is what produces this sound. Now to resolve it, you can either press the strings down harder, which would be more work. Or you can try to get your fingers closer to the fret lines. This means you don’t have to put as much pressure down but you will still get a cleaner sound.

So like the image below, try to get your fingers just behind the fret lines and play. See how little pressure you can use to produce a clear sound from your chords.

Getting your strumming to sound better

We are going to look at why some beginner guitar players get this blocky-like sound when they strum. When they go up and down the guitar, it’s a strum one way and then the other. If you get this too then read on.

First of all, you need to stop thinking about your strumming hand as turning on or off a switch when you strum. Try to picture your strumming hand as a paintbrush that can vary it’s pressure and stroke to make more interesting lines on a canvas.

Try this, when you strum down, play the top three strings (4-6) slowly and then carry on through faster through the last three strings (3-1) .

When you get comfortable with that, repeat for strumming upwards as well. Going through the top strings (1-3) slowly and then quickly through the bottom three strings (4-6).

Can you hear how much more interesting this sounds already? Now try doing it up and down together.

Once you get the hang of it, try doing this with any strumming patterns that you have. It should make your strumming now more melodic, delicate and interesting.

Practising songs in a more effective way

I see a lot of beginners do this when they first practise songs, when they go through a song and they hit a mistake. They will either just carry on through or go straight back to the beginning of the song, verse or line.


Doing this can waste a lot of time when your mistake is at a very precise point of your playing. So let’s try to just practise correcting that mistake.

When you are practising at home, and practising through a song. Whenever you hit a mistake, try to only go to the beginner of the mistake and repeat it 20 times.

For example: for a chord change: A, E, G, D, C, G.

If you always struggle going from G to D, then just repeat going from one to the other 20 times. And then try going through the song again.

It may make your practising sound a lot less fun, but it will make your practising a lot more efficient as you are tackling your weak spot.

When you hit your next mistake, repeat this again. You will be saving yourself minutes today practising this way and hours over the next few weeks so solving the tiny bits that is holding you back from playing the song.

I hope that we have helped you solve some problems you may have been having with your guitar playing. There are lots of small things that when solved really help your guitar playing to get better.

Do You Want to Get Better At Guitar?

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Then contact us, we are based in London and we are here to help you get the ability to play the things you really want to play and do the things you really want to be able to do with the guitar. Whether it’s jamming, playing with other people or performing. Even song writing. We want to help you achieve these things.

Click on the button below to take you through to our contact form so we can find out a little bit more about you, and because we are so sure we can help you, we even give you a free assessment lesson so we can find out what it is that you really want to do and how we can help.