Tech Tip:Problems With Strumming Rhythms

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The following tips for aspiring guitarists are courtesy of John McCarthy of The Rock House Method, publisher of video lessons for musicians at every skill level.


Charley Rogers; Wichita, KS


Q: I have your Rock House Learn Rock Guitar Beginner DVD and think it is great! I have progressed so much in the last two months that my parents can even listen to me without plugging their ears now.


I have a question about learning rhythm. I can strum chords and can move between them with good speed but I have a really hard time understanding the rhythm. I don’t know how many times I should strum each chord and in what pattern, all downward or up and down?


A: The sense of rhythm is something that will take time to develop into a natural feel. To start off, I suggest that you try to do the most simple rhythm motions to help develop timing. Start with strumming each chord down two times while changing from chord to chord. Next, try to do variations with up and down strums for instance, Down - Down Up, or Down - Down Up Down, these are two very common rhythms.


One thing that is most important when strumming is to keep your strumming arm moving in a steady up down motion to create a natural rhythm. When you don’t need to hit the strings, move the pick away from the strings. This is called a ghost strum.


As you progress you will gain more rhythm variations into your style and it will become more natural and you will be on your way to being a great rhythm player.