It’s at this point in the beginner level guitar lessons that we introduce the longest of Guitar in a Nutshell’s universal strums – Strum No.2. It’s a highly useful strum and mostly performed at slower tempos such as between 50 and 90 beats per minute. At the end of the strum there is a slight rest which will give you some cushioning between your chord changes and most beginners find this very helpful. Aside from the fact that Strum No. 2 is long and therefore takes a bit more practice to remember, the only other thing which make take some getting used to is the initial down stroke which kind of ‘hangs in the air’ before moving on. On the video you’ll see and hear exactly what I’m talking about.
Just as all the other strums however, number two will become totally automatic with just a little bit of practice and you’re sure to find a vast array of different popular songs in many musical genre’s to which you can apply this powerful, universal strum. How to strum guitar is a much maligned question which Guitar in a Nutshell, unlike many other beginner tutorials, does not neglect. In fact, we consider it every bit as important as learning chords and in our guitar lessons just as much emphasis and training is devoted to strumming as is to chords.
The directions in how you strum guitar are vitally important. The succession of up and down strokes are clearly notated in all our strums and it’s imperative that you follow them exactly in order to get a fluid and natural strum pattern. One which will feel effortless to perform and easy to keep in time with. The directions of each stroke in the strum are very specific and at times you’ll find yourself having to do two upstrokes in a row or conversely, multiple down stokes in a row. The down strokes do not present a problem for most beginners however in the middle of some strum patterns you will find a double up stroke.
This does challenge a certain percentage of beginners when they first attempt it however I’ve yet to come across a beginner who couldn’t master all of Guitar in a Nutshells universal strums with just a little bit of applied practice. This is especially true when used with drum tracks to frame them into a secure and obvious musical context.
When learning how to strum acoustic guitar in particular, you’ll quickly see that strums are like circles. They cycle around and around repeating a clear rhythmical pattern and always keeping in time, you get locked into a groove and rarely leave it. In fact, there are many popular and well known songs where you never change your strum pattern at all from the start to the end of the song. These songs are normally great for beginners especially with open chords and it gives you a much better chance of being able to play the song early on.
We encourage you to learn how to strum guitar first with muted strings and then with a drum track before ever applying chords to it. This will allow you to build the strum up gradually and give the necessary time your brain needs to record the information properly. Only when you have completed this process will your guitar strumming become easy and 100% natural.