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Guitar Strumming Lesson 1 – Bars and Beats – Beginners Course Lesson 4)

October 10, 2019


Hiya guys. In this lesson, we’re looking at how to play a couple of the easiest strumming patterns to play real songs with on guitar. These are appropriate for level one of my beginner’s course and beyond. Before we get into the actual technique of strumming, we need a bit of background on what bars and beats are. So, the beat is what you would naturally tap your foot to, or nod your head to, if you’re listening to one of your favourite songs. But it is a pulse that is actually throughout every song you’ve ever heard, but there’s not necessarily something that has to play on the beat… for it to still be there. As I say, it’s a pulse that exists and you would naturally sort of feel when you get into having a natural rhythm through learning music. And that beat goes to a count of four. So..1…2…3…4. Evenly spaced counts, or pulses, as I say. And it’s that count of four that we call a bar. So rather than joining in a song at, maybe, you know beat 72 or 103… we would count say…’come in two bars in’, which is two counts or ‘four bars in’. So on and so forth. So grouping things together in bars makes it easier to keep track of how many beats you are actually playing. But essentially all we want to be able to do is count to four at a slow, even, pace. So…1….2….3….4. And then, to start off with, we’re just going to strum on beat one….. which is actually how our first song actually starts. So if we just take this E major chord as an example – and you can play along as soon as you feel comfortable at home with your guitar…. we’re gonna play that first chord, E major, and I’m going to count ‘1, 2, 3, 4’ evenly in a loop and just strum on beat one… which is our first strumming pattern. So that goes like this ‘1….2…..3….4’ [3 times]. And that is our first strumming pattern nice and easily…. but we’ve got all the foundations there of what we will use later on in real songs and chord sequences. So that strumming pattern is called a spread, and it sounds best if we do the strum slightly delayed…so slightly slower. So, kind of like a harp. Whenever we do one strum that rings out like these spreads do, it just sounds a bit more professional if we do it nice, gentle… dragging the pick down. 1….2…..3…..4 [3 times] Ok? So make sure you join in with this at home. Nice and easy, we’re just gonna go for it real quick in….2….3….4. 1…..2….3…..4 [twice]…..strum….2….3….4 [twice]. Ok? And if you have to count out loud to start off with, that’s fine. But if we can make that count internal – in your mind – then that’s the perfect way to make sure that you’re doing this right. The second strumming pattern – and the one that is often the foundation of so many of our songs, I’ll always show you the chord sequence starting off with this strumming pattern -…. this is strumming on the beat. So that count of 1…2…3….4, we’re just gonna do down strums every time. And down strums are far more natural than up strums so we’re gonna start on down strums for everything for now. So we’re gonna take that E Major chord one more time and just strum on the beat evenly, but keeping the count in your mind… so that you know how many you’ve done. So let’s just have a go at that now. Join in at any point when you’re ready. In 2….3….4. Strum…2…3….4. 1….2….3….4 [3 times]. And pause there. Ok, so a couple of points just on that strumming now that you’ve had a go. I’m using a pick, also known as a plectrum. Um, these are really handy to get a nice, clean sound. And I really recommend getting used to having a pick, if you’re not using one already. You wanna grip that pick between your thumb and your first finger… but if you do find that you keep dropping it or it’s more comfortable, you can use two fingers as well. And strumming, fundamentally, needs to happen from the elbow, not the wrist…at least to begin with, ok? So it’s a strum like this, from the elbow, and that elbow is hitting the guitar just here. And we strum using this action like this, ok? Just a demo of that one more time and, if you want to join in, you can. We wanna hit all six strings, nice and evenly. And just collide against them, you know, rather than dragging down every one. We want these strums to, unlike the spread, to sound like one sound rather than the harp sound we were going for earlier. Ok? So one single strum, yes, make it sound like a harp. For this one, just go straight for it, ok? Nice flick down almost. Ready? With your guitar, on an E chord. In 2…..3……4. ‘1…2…3…4’. ‘Two….2….3….4’. ‘Three….’. ‘And four…..’. And pause there. Now just so we know how long you’re playing for, let’s change to the A chord now…which was the second chord that we looked at. And we’re gonna strum for just two bars. Ok? So just two bars of this count of four. So, this is gonna sound like ‘1…..2….3….4.’. ‘Two….2….3….4’. And this is because in songs, we get given a chord sequence and your chord will last a certain amount of time. So this just checks that, rather than just keeping even, we’re gonna play for two bars, ok? Which is again like a couple of songs that we’re gonna be going for later. So, on that A chord, join in to me…on beat one, after a count of 1….2…3…..and… Strum…2…3….4. Second bar…2…3…4. And…stop. That’s the end, ok? So, let’s do that for four bars now, just to get onto it. And then, as I say, you’ve got everything you need, really, to be able to have a go at these songs a little later, and chord sequences. So, one more time, but four bars of A this time. Ready…in….2….3….4. Strum…2…3….4. 1…2…3…..4 [twice]. Last bar….2….3…..4. And, we stop there. So, if you wanna get your timing a little better, you can run through those one more time. But I recommend we get straight onto some chord sequences, which are…you can kind of see as pre-songs in this beginner’s course… we’ve got chord sequences that are always gonna be really similar to certain songs, but they don’t have the structure or they’re a little bit simplified. So, ideal to go for first. So that’s in the next lesson, as I say. Or you can get straight on and have a go at the songs themselves, which are on the website at andyguitar.co.uk. And I hope to see you in one of those future lessons. Take care of yourselves, and bye for now.

21 Comments

  • Reply HUNcamper December 25, 2015 at 1:32 am

    I love this course! I just got my guitar RIGHT on christmas, and you helped me out ALOT with this! Thanks alot mate! and keep the good work up!

  • Reply Kieran January 14, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    I cant strum correctly i just keep over plucking or missing some strings sometimes any tips?

  • Reply Bharat Bhasin January 22, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    great quality lessons, thank you for uploading these.

  • Reply ColdJoker107 February 9, 2016 at 8:31 am

    Thx. Andy… 🙂

  • Reply Greg Kisinger March 14, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    Hi Andy, I purchased the Keith Urban Player Guitar package and I've been on Disk 1, of 30 disks, for a couple months now. I can play the G and C chords, but can't seem to transition between the two while learning how to strum quickly on the first song. So, I discovered your guitar videos and they are GREAT. I'm using your videos to fill in the gaps on Keith's program. I appreciate the time you put into teaching guitar to others. Thank you!!!

  • Reply Anna K. Bui March 15, 2016 at 5:53 am

    thanks Andy! your videos have been really helpful so far! looking forward to learning more from you!

  • Reply sandra valani April 2, 2016 at 9:21 pm

    Andy is such an excellent teacher because he doesn't make a person feel like rushing to learn and his genuine attitude totally is motivating me to learn!☺

  • Reply Anand Rai April 23, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    Andy, first of all thanks for the great guitar lessons man! They're great.
    I am facing a bit of problem in trying to understand if I am making the right sound with the guitar, when I play the respective chord.

  • Reply MsSphinx91 May 17, 2016 at 8:32 am

    I've looked up instructions on how to position the thumb on the neck. I try my best, but after playing for a few minutes, the inside of my wrist gets sore (the part that connects the thumb to the wrist). I tried relaxing the thumb, but it doesn't seem to help. Is this something I have to get used to, or does it mean i'm doing something wrong? I feel like I'm going to end up with carpal tunnel >_<

  • Reply Boxxy Box August 4, 2016 at 5:30 am

    i want to start playing but i don't have a guitar. What is the best cheap guitar i can get?

  • Reply Ken Hollis August 19, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    Thanks Andy….been in bands for decades…now all thats done, I am still writting songs in my head, so I bought a guitar, I love it….now as I learn I can sit out at my Gold camp in the Mojave desert and play to myself and the friendly cayote

  • Reply Jaymark Obispo September 1, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    sir I'm having a problem picking strings. for example: in C I'm OK with single strum, but when I do it in beat I accendentally hit the 6th strings? need some advice with that. thanks you!

  • Reply Trash Gold January 2, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    im gettin there

  • Reply venkat Prasad reddy January 12, 2017 at 4:39 pm

    really great ,, satisfied with Ur classes

  • Reply Laurence Carpenter April 24, 2017 at 10:00 am

    Thanks Andy, your a really great teacher.

  • Reply karl de middeleer April 29, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    I m Very new guitar player, and i only got a 3string guitar, slide,,,, any advice on that one?? Grts,,,

  • Reply Dylan Algifari May 12, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    thank you so much andy youre more great than my teacher

  • Reply Kovie Itha Official July 12, 2017 at 6:03 am

    I LOVE YOU!

  • Reply Gatot Purnomosidi December 20, 2017 at 3:37 am

    Thank you..
    You are a good teacher

  • Reply Ashutosh sINGH January 9, 2018 at 8:47 am

    The way you tell to press a major cord is difficult to do so. Sir help me out ..

  • Reply Lorenzo Leonardi September 23, 2019 at 7:48 pm

    you my kind sir have just given me the tools i need to start my learning process in the best of ways so thank you in the sincerest of ways. for any other beginner, the app is just fabulous

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