How Learning Good Strumming Patterns Can Make You A Great Guitarist

Published: 10th February 2010
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It is probably the biggest indication that a guitarist has truly mastered their art. A guitarist that has a much-personalised Strumming pattern can make any song sound a little interesting. Even the most basic of tunes can come to life when a guitar is the hands of a player that has their own style and a unique strumming pattern.

You know it when you hear it and a quality-strumming pattern can make a song with just a few basic cords sound like a much more evolved and brilliant tune. So often the early lessons will focus on finger position on the strings, which is important, but when an individual knows the basics it is time to think about rhythm and strumming patterns.

My Teachers Tips for Developing a Good Strumming Pattern

Tip One: Hold your elbow high and use it like a rigid pendulum, striking up and down onto the strings a little like a gentle karate chop. Whilst the elbow should remain stiff, your wrist should be loose and able to rotate around. Flick with your wrist and not further up your arm.

Tip Two: Never strum as if you are trying to stab an animal. I know that sounds crazy but the point that he was explaining was that many guitars strum so aggressively that the strings rattle and make unwanted additional noise whilst strumming them.

Tip Three: Try to level out the sound that each strum makes. If your noise level sound even of both up strums and down your patterns begin to take on a van flowing sound, rather then a jerky rough sound.

Tip Four: Whilst ever possible alternate between down and up strumming; when you are joining chords try to end with an up strum.

Tip Five: In tip, two we talked about not strumming like you are trying to stab or kill an animal, but you also do not want to strum as if you are patting a kitten. By that, I mean too gentle will give you wispy weak sound. Firm is best. My teacher is also an avid golfer and he compared the two activities sometimes, as strange as that may sound. He use to say to me that when you grip a golf club you should hold it like you are holding a small bird, gently but firmly enough that it won't escape. When strumming always strum with purpose and firmly and not harshly.

Tip Six: If you are strumming an acoustic guitar, try to imagine that the hole in your guitar is a sphere shape and that you are aiming to strum right over the very middle of the hole. Like there is a little pin prick marking the exact middle at the very bottom of the sphere. Strum firmly and deeply over that middle.

Tip Seven: Really, listen to the sound that your strings are making, and be sure that the ring is a clear robust sound. Strum each string individually and really listen to the sound that each string makes. It is so easy just to pick up your instrument and start practising your chords rather then having a little check list to make sure that each strum you make counts.

As funny, as the analogy about golf may sound to you often different disciplines do have patterns they share. For a number of years I did Sho Ryun Ruhr Karate and one of the black belts in my class played beautiful folk guitar. Wayne had also been practising Tai Chi for many years and he explained to me that he believed his martial arts and tai chi helped a lot with his guitar playing. Think about the Chinese pensioners you see in every major cities parks and the control and smooth flow that they exhibit when they perform their various tai chi moves.

Flow and control of human movement as well as controlled breathing will play a role in helping make you a better guitarist. Learning guitar is a fantastic thing to do and my initial interest came about because of my old friend karate Wayne. When you think about the connection between pursuits like surfing, martial Wristiest Chi, they all do have quite a bit in common.

Paul Ritchie is an Australian born business person who loves playing Guitar

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