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Guitar strum Play (help*info)
: base pattern on open G tuning. Strumming is used to create a chord. Many patterns are created through subtracting beats from this base. Guitar strum on open G chord base pattern.png
Guitar strum Loudspeaker.svg Play  : base pattern on open G tuning. Strumming is used to create a chord. Many patterns are created through subtracting beats from this base.
Guitar strum Play (help*info)
: pattern created by subtracting the second and fifth (of eight) eighth notes from the base, above. Guitar strum on open G chord common pattern.png
Guitar strum Loudspeaker.svg Play  : pattern created by subtracting the second and fifth (of eight) eighth notes from the base, above.
Ska stroke Play (help*info)
: features dampened staccato upbeat downstrokes. Backbeat chop.png
Ska stroke Loudspeaker.svg Play  : features dampened staccato upbeat downstrokes.

In music, strumming is a way of playing a stringed instrument such as a guitar, ukulele, or mandolin. A strum or stroke is a sweeping action where a finger or plectrum brushes over several strings to generate sound. [2] On most stringed instruments, strums are typically executed by a musician's designated strum hand (typically the musician's dominant hand, [3] which is often responsible for generating the majority of sound on a stringed instrument), while the remaining hand (referred to as the fret hand [4] [5] on most instruments with a fingerboard) often supports the strum hand by altering the tones and pitches of any given strum. [6]


Strums are often contrasted with plucking, as a means of vibrating an instrument's strings. In plucking, a specific string or designated set of strings are individually targeted to vibrate, whereas in strumming, a less precise targeting is usually used. Compared to other plucking techniques, any group of strings brushed in a single sweep by a plectrum could be considered a strum due to the plectrum's less precise string group targeting (however, a plectrum might simultaneously pluck a small group of strings without being considered a strum). In contrast, a musician could utilize a technique with more precise string group targeting (such as a fingerstyle or fingerpick technique) to pluck all the strings on a stringed instrument at once and this would still be considered a pluck, not a strum.


There are a variety of methods for writing strum notation.
Strumming arrow notation.png
Arrow notation
Strumming du notation.png
Letter notation
Strumming classic notation.png
Traditional notation

Strumming patterns

A strumming pattern or strum is a preset pattern used by a rhythm guitar. For example, a pattern in common time or 4
consisting of alternating down and up eighth note strokes may be written:


Rock and pop

The pattern most typical of rock and related styles is:

d du udu

The final upstroke is sometime omitted. This pattern is often called "Old Faithful", [7] or when played on ukulele, the "Island Strum".

Examples of other strumming patterns include: [8]

Jazz and funk

The simple four-to-a-bar rhythm is associated with jazz guitarists such as Freddie Green, although they may subtly vary the rhythm of a chord on some beats to add interest.

A simple eight-to-a-bar (8 eighth notes) rhythm is known as "straight eights" as opposed "swung eights", in which each pair are played in a rhythm that resembles the first and third notes in a triplet.

The fretting hand can also mute the strings on the fretboard to damp a chord, creating staccato and percussive effects. In reggae and ska, a few staccato "chops" are played per bar. In funk rhythm playing, the strumming hand keeps a fairly steady motion in 16th notes, while the left hand, basically holding down a jazz chord damps some of them in a syncopated pattern.

Fingerstyle strumming strokes

Some of the many possible fingerstyle strums include

See also

Related Research Articles

The banjo is a stringed instrument with a thin membrane stretched over a frame or cavity to form a resonator. The membrane is typically circular, and usually made of plastic, or occasionally animal skin. Early forms of the instrument were fashioned by African-Americans in the United States, adapted from African instruments of similar design. The banjo is frequently associated with folk and country music, and has also been used in some rock songs. Several rock bands, such as The Eagles, Led Zeppelin, and The Allman Brothers, have used the five-string banjo in some of their songs. Historically, the banjo occupied a central place in African-American traditional music and the folk culture of rural whites before entering the mainstream via the minstrel shows of the 19th century. Along with the fiddle, the banjo is a mainstay of American styles of music, such as Bluegrass and old-time music. It is also very frequently used in traditional ("trad") jazz.

Classical guitar member of the guitar family used in classical music

The classical guitar is a member of the guitar family used in classical music. An acoustic wooden string instrument with strings made of gut or nylon, it is a precursor of the modern acoustic and electric guitars, both of which use metal strings. Classical guitars are derived from the Spanish vihuela and gittern in the fifteenth and sixteenth century, which later evolved into the seventeenth and eighteenth century Baroque guitar and later the modern classical guitar in the mid nineteenth century.

Guitar Fretted string instrument

The guitar is a fretted musical instrument that typically has six strings. It is held flat against the player's body and played by strumming or plucking the strings with the dominant hand, while simultaneously pressing the strings against frets with the fingers of the opposite hand. A plectrum or individual finger picks may by be used to strike the strings. The sound of the guitar is projected either acoustically, by means of a resonant chamber on the instrument, or amplified by an electronic pickup and an amplifier.

String instrument Class of musical instruments with vibrating strings

String instruments, stringed instruments, or chordophones are musical instruments that produce sound from vibrating strings when a performer plays or sounds the strings in some manner.

Tremolo Trembling sound effect

In music, tremolo, or tremolando, is a trembling effect. There are two types of tremolo.

Sweep picking

Sweep picking is a guitar playing technique. When sweep picking, the guitarist plays single notes on consecutive strings with a 'sweeping' motion of the pick, while using the fretting hand to produce a specific series of notes that are fast and fluid in sound. Both hands essentially perform an integral motion in unison to achieve the desired effect.

The palm mute is a playing technique for guitar and bass guitar, executed by placing the side of the picking hand below the little finger across the strings to be plucked, very close to the bridge, and then plucking the strings while the damping is in effect. This produces a muted sound. The name is a slight misnomer, as the muting is performed by the side of the hand, not the palm.


Clawhammer, sometimes called frailing, is a distinctive banjo playing style and a common component of American old-time music.

Guitar pick

A guitar pick is a plectrum used for guitars. Picks are generally made of one uniform material—such as some kind of plastic, rubber, felt, tortoiseshell, wood, metal, glass, tagua, or stone. They are often shaped in an acute isosceles triangle with the two equal corners rounded and the third corner less rounded. They are used to strum chords or to sound individual notes on a guitar.

Appalachian dulcimer fretted string instrument

The Appalachian dulcimer is a fretted string instrument of the zither family, typically with three or four strings, originally played in the Appalachian region of the United States. The body extends the length of the fingerboard, and its fretting is generally diatonic.

Rasgueado is a guitar finger strumming technique commonly associated with flamenco guitar music. It is also used in classical and other fingerstyle guitar picking techniques. The rasgueado is executed using the fingers of the strumming hand in rhythmically precise, and often rapid, strumming patterns. The important characteristic of this strumming style is the fingernail (outer) side of the finger tips is also used, and in such case, in reverse of the way it is done when the fleshy side of the finger tips is used, namely downward and upward (thumb).

Fingerstyle guitar

Fingerstyle guitar is the technique of playing the guitar or bass guitar by plucking the strings directly with the fingertips, fingernails, or picks attached to fingers, as opposed to flatpicking. The term "fingerstyle" is something of a misnomer, since it is present in several different genres and styles of music—but mostly, because it involves a completely different technique, not just a "style" of playing, especially for the guitarist's picking/plucking hand. The term is often used synonymously with fingerpicking except in classical guitar circles, although fingerpicking can also refer to a specific tradition of folk, blues and country guitar playing in the US. The terms "fingerstyle" and "fingerpicking" also applied to similar string instruments such as the banjo.

Downpicking, sometimes referred to as down-stroke picking, is a technique used by musicians on plucked string instruments in which the player moves the plectrum, or pick in a downward motion, relative to the position of the instrument, against one or more of the strings to make them vibrate. If down-strokes are played without the addition of upstrokes, the tip of the pick never comes in contact with the strings as the hand moves back up to repeat the down-stroke.

Outline of guitars Overview of and topical guide to guitars

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to guitars:

Hybrid picking

Hybrid picking is a guitar-playing technique that involves picking with a pick (plectrum) and one or more fingers alternately or simultaneously. Hybrid picking allows guitar players who use a pick to perform music which would normally require fingerstyle playing. It also facilitates wide string leaps which might otherwise be quite difficult. The technique is not widespread in most genres of guitar playing, but is most often employed in "chicken pickin'"; rockabilly, country, honky-tonk, and bluegrass flatpicking styles who play music which occasionally demands fingerstyle passages.

Hybrid picking involves playing with the pick and the right hand m and/or a the same time. The pick is held in the usual way...and the fingers execute free strokes in the typical fingerstyle manner...Hybrid picking allows fingerstyle-like passages to be freely interspersed with flatpicked passages...without any delay.


Flatpicking is the technique of striking the strings of a guitar with a pick held between the thumb and one or two fingers. It can be contrasted to fingerstyle guitar, which is playing with individual fingers, with or without wearing fingerpicks. While the use of a plectrum is common in many musical traditions, the exact term "flatpicking" is most commonly associated with Appalachian music of the American southeastern highlands, especially bluegrass music, where string bands often feature musicians playing a variety of styles, both fingerpicking and flatpicking. Musicians who use a flat pick in other genres such as rock and jazz are not commonly described as flatpickers or even plectrum guitarists. As the use of a pick in those traditions is commonplace, generally only guitarists who play without a pick are noted by the term "fingerpicking" or "fingerstyle".

Classical guitar technique

In classical guitar, the right hand is developed in such a way that it can sustain two, three, and four voice harmonies while also paying special attention to tone production. The index (i), middle (m), and ring (a) fingers are generally used to play the melody, while the thumb (p) accompanies in the bass register adding harmony, and produces a comparable texture and effect to that of the piano. The classical guitar is a solo polyphonic instrument, and it is difficult to master.

Flamenco guitar Acoustic guitar used in Flamenco music

A flamenco guitar is a guitar similar to a classical guitar but with thinner tops and less internal bracing. It usually has nylon strings, like the classical guitar, but it generally possesses a livelier, more gritty sound compared to the classical guitar. It is used in toque, the guitar-playing part of the art of flamenco.

Mexican vihuela

The Mexican vihuela[biˈ] is a guitar-like string instrument from 19th-century Mexico with five strings and typically played in mariachi groups.

Guitar picking

Guitar picking is a group of hand and finger techniques a guitarist uses to set guitar strings in motion to produce audible notes. These techniques involve plucking, strumming, brushing, etc. Picking can be done with:


  1. Snyder, Jerry (1999). Jerry Snyder's Guitar School, p.28. ISBN   0-7390-0260-0.
  2. "Definition of STRUMMING". Retrieved 2018-06-22.
  3. "Should You Play Left-Handed or Right-Handed? | Hub Guitar". Retrieved 2018-06-22.
  4. "Fret-Hand Fitness: Four Wicked Workouts to Develop Your Digits". Retrieved 2018-06-22.
  5. "Guitar fret hand technique tricks for every player • Fretello Learn Guitar". Retrieved 2018-06-22.
  6. "Right-handed and Left-handed Vs Right and Left Hand Guitars" . Retrieved 2018-06-22.
  7. Sandercoe, Justin (2013). Justinguitar.Com: Rock Songbook. London: Music Sales Ltd. p. 69. ISBN   1780386877.
  8. Dix, Bruce (2011). You Can Teach Yourself Country Guitar. pp. 19–26. ISBN   9781610654869.

Guitar strumming patterns