Most people are fascinated by a guitarist’s finger quickness and chord voicing creativity. But it isn’t what distinguishes them. The right hand holds the key. So, if you want to improve your strumming, I’ve got some advice for you.
I’ll show you why strumming is so important, as well as seven ways to improve your playing and how to use them in your practice.
Why Is Strumming So Crucial?
The ability to strum distinguishes great guitarists from mediocre guitarists.
The truth is that strumming is what separates excellent guitarists from average guitarists. Few people recognize that strong strumming is essential to having a decent guitar.
You can play all of the basic chords, as well as some more difficult ones, but they’re meaningless if you can’t make them sound decent. A C# madd9, or a Cmaj for that matter, will not sound good without a suitable strumming pattern.
People will label you a beginner in about half a second if your strumming is stiff and unnatural. Strumming, in my experience, is one of the most difficult obstacles for newcomers to overcome. So the focus of this article is on how to overcome that stumbling block.
The best strategies to improve your guitar strumming are listed here.
Strumming Techniques to Improve
There are a few simple techniques you can utilize to improve your strumming.
We’ll now go through seven tried-and-true strategies to improve your strumming. You’ll see your improvement if you adhere to these tactics and practice every day.
1. Select an oblique angle.
Your strumming will sound overly strong and clumsy if you hold your pick perpendicular to the ground. On down strums, angle the pick so the tip points toward your chest; on up strums, angle it so the tip points toward your feet.
This allows you to play softly and strum from the wrist (two things we’ll talk about later).
2. Use Your Wrist to Strum
Many novices believe that strumming is completely done with their elbow, but this is not the case. You’ll appear and sound like a robot playing guitar if you simply move your elbow, not your wrist.
Simply loosen up your wrist and move up and down across the strings. Now, you do want to keep some control over your wrist, but the idea here (if I may use another metaphor) is to let your wrist play the role of the alcoholic uncle at the wedding while your elbow plays the role of the calm aunt.
Your wrist should be loose, and your elbow should not stray too far from a 90-degree angle at all times.
3. Take your time… really take your time.
You don’t have to play as fast as the world’s fastest guitarist. Don’t even consider it (unless you’re intrigued, in which case you may see him play at 2,000 beats per minute). Right now, all you have to worry about is playing with delicacy and strumming in time.
To accomplish this, you should begin slowly—very slowly. When learning a new strumming pattern, start by playing it at a speed that is comfortable for you. If you have to, play at an awkwardly slow rate to get the strumming pattern down.
This may seem strange at first, but it will help you improve. Once you’ve mastered the strumming pattern, gradually increase the speed until you’re able to play the song at its original tempo. Try utilizing a metronome—either download a free app or look for a free online metronome on Google.
4. Continue to move your hand to the right.
One thing I notice about beginner guitarists is that their strumming hand jerks back and forth like a strobe light. This is incorrect, and your strumming will sound forced.
You should keep your right hand/wrist going up and down all the time. Keeping your hand moving doesn’t imply you have to strum on every up and down.
If you have a strumming pattern like this (in a 4/4 time signature), for example:
down-down / up-up / down-down / up-up / down-up-down-up-up-up-up-up-up-up-up-up-up-up-up-up-up-up-up-up-up
There would be an upstroke in between each down-down where you wouldn’t hit any of the strings. The goal is to simply raise your pick above the low E string so that you can execute the second down stroke.
In between each up-up, take a down stroke to lower your pick below the high E string in preparation for the next up-up.
As a result, when you put it all together, your wrist continues to move. It does not suddenly jolt or stop. It’s just a matter of going with the flow.
Strumming Without Using Your Left Hand No. 5
Don’t worry about playing chords; just strumming will suffice.
This is how I first learnt to strum in time. I’d strum rhythms with my right hand while muting and unmuting the strings on my mother’s guitar. It was almost as if I was strumming a beat without utilizing chords (which I didn’t know at the time).
Give it a shot. Simply stop and start the ringing of the strings with your left hand, and play a rhythm with your right hand. Drop your left hand to the side if necessary and concentrate solely on your right. It may not sound appealing, but it will improve you.
6. Strumming lightly
Strumming as if your strings are about to strum
Strumming finesse is another feature that distinguishes excellent guitarists from average guitarists. Anyone can strum lightly, but not everyone can play super hard and loud. Don’t get me wrong: you need both, but if your strumming is always sloppy, you’re missing the point of good strumming.
A good strummer can play softly (as in the verses of a song) as well as loudly when necessary (like during the chorus). Having both gives contrast, which is important in both music and guitar playing.
As a result, practice playing slowly, as if the strings could snap at any moment.
Keep an eye on other guitarists.
You should see other skilled guitarists even if you don’t want to watch someone play guitar at an extremely rapid tempo. You can gain knowledge from them.
Look up a video of your favorite singer performing a song live or in a music video. Look at how they play the strumling. What is the motion of their wrist? What’s the matter with your elbow? What gives it such a natural appearance?
Make a mental note of everything. Who better to learn from than people who have been doing it for a long time?
To Improve Your Strumming, Use All 7 Methods.
One of these strategies should be practiced at a time.
It’s now time to put everything together. These techniques are provided in the order in which I propose you practice them. Start with number one and get used to holding your pick at an angle, then progress to number two and master it before moving on to the next.
It’s also fine if you only practice one method in your next session. Learning to play the guitar takes time, so be patient with yourself. Give yourself a small reward, such as a candy bar or a high five, if you’ve mastered one of the strategies.
Just don’t try to implement all of these suggestions at the same time. You’ll become frustrated and overwhelmed. It will be considerably more difficult to improve as a result of this. Ultimately, it boils down to putting in enough practice time such that strumming becomes second nature.
Every genre requires a different approach to strumming.
Strumming might be aided by learning to play the guitar in different genres.
Even for the best guitarists, improving their strumming skills is a never-ending process.
After you’ve mastered each of these methods, there’s one more thing you can do to improve your strumming: learn to play in other genres. You’ll see a significant improvement if you try to learn a song from each of the major guitar genres: rock, funk, reggae, jazz, metal, classical, and country.
Even if you don’t like country music, learning certain typical country guitar strumming patterns will substantially improve your guitar playing.
You should always strive to improve your right-hand skills. Because a great guitarist must be able to strum.