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Strumming Basics - General Overview

Sean Conklin 456 lessons

Welcome everyone! This tutorial is designed to lay out the very basics of guitar strumming. If you're just starting out on guitar, then these lessons are for you!

First, be sure to review the important posture points that I bring up in the video. Keep those points in mind, and make sure that you're completely relaxed. If you aren't relaxed when strumming, then it'll sound like you aren't relaxed! Let gravity do its thing. When strumming on a downward motion, let your hand gently fall. And when strumming on an upward motion, pretend your wrist is being gently pulled up by a string. Whether strumming fast or slow, strumming is ultimately a very gentle technique. Lastly, make sure you don't grind the pick in the strings when strumming. The pick should only graze the strings lightly, just enough to produce sound. No more, no less.

Now, let's look at things rhythmically. In the next couple lessons, we're going to be playing strumming exercises based on eighth note patterns. The 8th note count will be written below each exercise. You'll see it written as follows: 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + . (pronounced "one and two and three and four and") For each beat, there will be two 8th note strumming motions. The first motion will be downward, the second motion will be upward. Those two motions will repeat for each beat.

Take a look at the following image...

In the image above, we have 1 full measure written out, and the beats are separated by green lines. Notice how there are 4 beats in each measure? Also, observe the arrows. The arrows will indicate what strumming direction your strum should be on each count. If the arrow is pointing down, then you'll play a downward strum over that count. If the arrow is pointing up, you'll play an upward strum over that count.

Lastly, we also want to make sure we know the difference between downbeats and upbeats. With these exercises, anytime we strum a down on the number counts (beats), we'll be playing downbeats. And anytime we strum an up on the "+" counts, we'll be playing upbeats. If what I just said doesn't make sense, check out the image below where it shows the difference between where the downbeats are played, and where the upbeats are played.

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