Right-Hand Techniques, Part 1: Strumming
Glenn Weiser  celticguitar1@nycap.rr.com 

 

The first right-hand skill you need to develop on guitar is strumming. First is the basic downstrum, and then down-up strumming.

 

1. The basic downstrum: In three-four time, strum three times per bar, once per beat, counting, “One, two, three.” The accent is on “1.” In four-four time, strum four times per bar, once per beat, counting, “One, two, three, four.” The accents are on “1” and  “3.” 

 

        ↓  ↓   ↓

3/4  /1  2  3 /

 

        ↓  ↓  ↓ ↓

4/4  /1  2 3 4 /       When the accents fall on “2“ and “4,” it is called a backbeat.

 

2. Down-up Strumming: Here we use eighth-note rhythms to create a more lively effect. In three-four time, count, “one and two and three and.” In four-four time, count, “one and two and three and four and.”

 

Here are some down-up strums in both three-four and four-four:

 

Ύ time strums-

 

  ↓     ↓ ↑  ↓               ↓    ↓  ↑ ↓  ↑

/ 1 + 2 + 3 +  /       / 1 + 2 + 3 +  /

 

4/4 time strums-

 

  ↓    ↓  ↑ ↓  ↑ ↓               ↓    ↓  ↑ ↓     ↓ ↑          ↓     ↓ ↑  ↓ ↑ ↓ ↑          ↓  ↑  ↓ ↑  ↓ ↑ ↓ ↑

/ 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + /       / 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + /      / 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + /      / 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + /

 

3. The “Latin,” or syncopated strum has accented strums on “1” and “2 &,” and no strum on “3” in 4/4 time.

 

  ↓     ↓ ↑     ↑ ↓                ↓    ↓  ↑     ↑ ↓  ↑                                         ↓    ↓  '   ↓   ↓  '

/ 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + /         / 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + /   4. “Sock” strum- 4/4  / 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + /  
The symbol ‘ indicates the tacet-let the strings off the neck with the fingers on the strings.

 

5. The swing strum: In 4/4, each beat is divided in thirds, called triplets. It is counted, “ 1 trip-let, two triplet,” etc. Strum down on “1,” count “trip,” and strum up on “let.”

 

↓         ↑    ↓        ↑     ↓       ↑     ↓        ↑

1 trip-let   2 trip-let   3 trip-let   4-trip-let

                                                                          ↓  ↑    ↓    ↓   ↑    ↓    ↓  ↑    ↓     ↓   ↑    ↓

6. The triplet strum is a down-up-down pattern- 1 trip-let   2 trip-let   3 trip-let   4-trip-let

 

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