How to Strum a Guitar

If you want to learn to play the guitar, it is essential to begin with the basics. One of the most fundamental things you will need to know in playing the guitar is how to properly strum it. In any song you play, you will be strumming the guitar over and over, so you want to make sure that you have practiced enough to be able to do so effortlessly and easily without thinking about it. Doing this helps you to progress much more quickly through guitar lessons.

Without further ado, this is everything you need to know about how to strum a guitar:


To Pick or Not to Pick? 

For many users, it is easier to use a pick, especially when you are just beginning. It’s not a requirement to use a pick when playing the guitar, but especially when you are just starting out, we recommend using one.

If you don’t have a pick or would prefer not to use one, there is nothing wrong with that. Instead, try using your index finger and thumb to strum the strings.

If you have one on hand, however, it is best to at least try to use the pick at first.


Getting Started

How you grip your pick and the angle that you use when strumming is going to be up to you. What’s most important, though, is consistency. You will find best results if you try different things until you find what is comfortable for you, and then stick with that. This will help you to produce a similar sound every time.

The next thing you need to do before you start strumming is relax. It’s common for new players to lock up their wrist and strum from their elbow. This can result in a lot of tension and an unnatural sound. Instead, strum naturally and with relaxation. One good technique is to pretend you are trying to flick off a feather that is stuck to your finger by a bit of honey. With that in mind, most of your motion will come from the wrist. Keep the feather and honey analogy in mind until you have perfected your strumming skills.


Mastering the Downstroke 

It’s wise to begin with a little downstroke strumming. Don’t worry about knowing any chords yet – for now, we’re just focusing on your strumming technique. Either mute the strings or play a chord if you know one. With the pick in your hand in whatever way is comfortable for you, place it at your preferred angle and strum through all six strings in a downward motion, keeping the honey and feather analogy in mind.

It may not feel natural at first, but in time, you’ll get the hang of it. Repeat this process until you feel comfortable with it.


The Upstroke and Beyond

Once you have mastered the downstroke, it is time to move on to the upstroke. To do this, you use the exact same technique, but strumming upwards instead. As you did with the downstroke, repeat this process until you feel comfortable with it.

The next step is to combine your upstrokes and downstrokes. Even if you don’t know a chord yet, you can mute the strings – but try and strum up and down over and over until you get the feel of strumming a guitar! This may take you awhile to get into the rhythm of it, but in no time, this movement will come naturally to you with a little bit of perseverance.

And there you have it – you now have mastered the art of strumming a guitar and can move on to the next step in learning to play this great instrument!

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