How To Strum A Guitar
Learning how to strum a guitar is one of the most important parts of playing the guitar, and luckily it's also one of the easiest. You can learn all the chords and fingerstyle riffs you want, but if you don't know how to strum a guitar, the entire instrument is worthless--what point is having an instrument where no sound comes out? To strum a guitar is at its simplest just moving something across the strings to hear the noise it creates. You can strum a guitar with a pick, but if you don't have one, you can just as easily strum a guitar with your thumb or other fingers.
- Play each string in a row. Start by just taking your thumb and moving it from the top string to the bottom string on the guitar, making sure each one makes a sound. After that, move your thumb back up the strings, making sure to hit each one and hear a noise from each string. Congratulations! This is strumming a guitar.
- Pretend you have a pick. Another way to strum a guitar is to put your thumb and middle finger together as if you have an imaginary pick in your hands and strum that way. The nail of your middle finger will hit the strings as your hand strums down, and the nail of your thumb will hit the strings as you strum back upward. This way you have the hard surface of your fingernail hitting the strings both strumming upward and downward. This sounds different than if you simply used your thumb, because the fleshy pad of your thumb would hit the strings as you strummed down instead of a hard fingernail.
- Learn picking patterns. As you get more confident in creating music with your guitar, you can learn different strumming patterns that vary in how often you strum and whether you strum a guitar up or down. A very common strumming pattern is "Down-Down-Up-Up-Down-Up." If you were to follow this pattern, that means that you would bring your thumb or pick down, hitting all the strings as you go, and then without touching the strings, go back up to the top and strum down again. Then you would do the same thing going up instead of down, and keep doing this following the pattern previously mentioned. Strumming down and strumming up sound different, and they accent the rhythm of the song differently as well. These differences are what make music sound interesting and unique.
Finally, a little bit more advanced way to strum is to combine fingerpicking and strumming. Use your thumb to pluck the bass strings (the sixth, fifth, or fourth strings) and your index fingernail to strum the treble strings (the third, second, and first strings). Alternating plucking the bass notes and strumming the rest of the strings is another great way to add more of an interesting sound to your music.