Strumming

As you practice strumming with the right hand, you’ll want to be sure to keep the right wrist relaxed. As far as holding the pick is concerned, her are a few tips…

1. Where beginners are concerned, you may find it easiest to use a fairly thin pick as it will flex some when it contacts the strings. Depending on the stiffness of your pick, you may need to make a few adjustments in the way you hold it. Basically, the stiffer the pick the greater the need to hold the pick loosely. If you hold it too tightly, it will move the string way too much when you strum and create a good bit of string rattle, fret buzzes and possibly break a string. As a general rule, you’ll want to have less than half of the pick sticking out from your thumb and finger tip when strumming. If you don’t have a good hold on it, the pick will probably get knocked out of your hand while strumming.

2. When you begin strumming upward it will most likely feel awkward since you’ll be using a different set of muscles in your right arm than when you were strumming downward. Something else to think about is that the upstroke is fighting gravity, so you’ll need to contract your arm with more force than you used to extend it.

3. One common mistake I see with beginner guitar students is that they will have trouble hitting all of the strings with equal force during strumming. The most common problem is to sort of “dig in” to the lower pitched strings and miss the first couple strings entirely. This can be solved by adjusting the plane of motion that the right hand follows as it moves up and down. You’ll want to aim for the first string and be sure the pick is allowed to flex a little by holding it a little looser.

4. In the strumming video here, I demonstrate using a metronome so as to insure that the downstrokes and upstrokes are rhythmically even. Something that really helps my guitar students during lessons is to have them start on an upstroke so that they’ll get used to the new sensation of strumming upward. Most of them find it awkward to start with, especially when using the metronome. After awhile though, the upstrokes improve and the student should be comfortable strumming both directions.