Strumming Acoustic

The first thing is it is much easier to strum with a pick. I recommend a lightish sort of guitar pick – my favourite pick for guitar strummin is a Jim Dunlop .60 mm. If your pick is too thin it makes it hard to get any real volume from your guitar and the real heavy picks are more suitable for electric (which is a whole other subject) Better to get yourself a few picks and try to hang on to them. They seem cheap enough around $1 each until you start to lose them at a steady rate. On my first guitar I got sick of losing them so drilled a hole in a pick and tied it to the bridge of the guitar with a piece of string. An easier way to look after them is to always return them to the same place when you are finished. Pushing your pick between the strings is good. I did that for years until my kids started playing and they couldn’t look after a pick for one day! My oldest boy when he was a teenager used to chew on them to destruction. Shouting and threats didn’t work so I had to find a new place to keep my picks and now I always keep them in my wallet. It is amazing how handy that is and how many times you get a guitar to play and noone else has a pick.

Where was I… Alright you can strum with your fingers if you like or if you are really stuck. The best way is to strum down with your fingernails and up with your thumbnail.

So strumming then. Most of the music we want to play, if not all of it, is in what is called 4/4 time (four four time) which means there are four beats to the bar. Music is split into pieces called bars which repeat over from start to finish of the song and this is why before a band can start a song someone (usually the drummer) has to count everyone in, ” 1 2 3 4 ” then you can all start at the same time and at the same tempo (speed). A lot of drummers love to bang the sticks together over their heads which is very showy and ok so long as they count the song in as well otherwise it’s easy to miss the first beat and come in wrong. Well easy for me anyway.

So here we go strumming on our acoustic guitars, four beats to the bar.

Start by strumming down across all the strings while you count 1 2 3 4 that is strum down once on each count. A good medium tempo to start with would be 110 bpm (beats per minute) This is slightly slower than 2 beats per second so four down strums will take about 2 seconds.

Alright “down down down down 1 2 3 4 down down down down ” etc etc remember songs last for a hundred or so bars so play as long as you can. Now this is a strum. Not a very exciting one or very useful mainly because it is hard to tell where beat one is unless you count all the time.

What we need are some upbeats. Your right hand goes down on each beat and has to come up again. As it comes up your strumming hand is playing the upbeats. This is the ‘and’ between the beats as ‘1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and’ All this means is that each bar is now divided into 8 with four domnbeats (the numbers) and four upbeats ( the ‘ands’ between the numbers.) Clear as man!! Practice strumming 1&2&3&4& for a while strumming down on the beats and brushing the strings as you bring your hand up.

At last we are ready to learn a strum. Here is my favourite for anything from 80bpms up to as fast as ya wanna go. I call it ‘down down up up down’

“Down down up up down” is what you should say to yourself over and over as you learn this strum because you have to get your right arm to play this totally automatically.

If you think ‘1 2 3 4 1&2&3&4&’ then down down up up down is…     1 2& & 4 or 1_2&_&4

In other words strum down on ‘1’ miss the strings on the way up and strum down on’2′ then hit the strings on the way up after ‘2’ and miss the strings going down on ‘3’ then hit the strings coming up, strum going down on ‘4’ and miss coming up then keep on playing it over and over from the start. Say it over and over “down down up up down”

The other strum we need is a slow song strum for songs slower than 70 to 80 bpm. When a song gets this slow, especially round 60bpm or 1 beat per second good old ‘down down up up down’ starts to sound a bit laboured. What ya gotta do is count “1234” at a slow speed then count “1&2&3&4&” now each of those becomes a downstrum so you have 8 downbeats or downstrums per bar instead of 4. The strum down once on the following –

1_2&3_4&


8 Responses to “Strumming Acoustic”

  1. Thanks so much! Finally someone who has the knowledge and expertise to strum acoustic properly! I have been playing for about 5-6 months and got very tired of strumming in the same way… 1_2&3&4_ Which i found very boring after a while and wanted to bring it to life! Thanks again, Ben.

  2. Thanks man!! This site is really helping me alot! Hope everything is good with you.. 🙂 Really grateful for all the help 🙂

  3. this helped me alot, ty

  4. read your behind blue eyes music, took all of about ten minutes to figure outthe enitre song where I can just play it without looking. This is sooo much easier then other tab sites I’ve been on. Top job!!

  5. You’re wonderful, man. many thanks!!!

  6. Wow,thx man,this really helped me out to make some of my songs really sound better and give each a kind of personal touch to it.

    Keep on rocking!!!

  7. thnx men it helped me a lot !!!!!!!!!!!

  8. wow..! thnkss dude..! it really helped.!

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