Strumming and Rhythm Guitar Lesson

Part 1 :  Learn some basic rhythms and a fun strum pattern!

The video starts with the whole note.  You may want to take a minute to look at the Let's Get Started section below before playing the video.  It isn't necessary but it may answer some questions that come up for you.

Having taught over 20 years, strumming and playing in time is a common problem I see.  It is easy to pick up bad habits and not being able to play in time makes it difficult to play with others and for anything to sound right.  The good news, you can avoid those bad habits....

The lesson below is one part of a complete online guitar method designed to have fun and take you step by step to sounding great!  If you are interested in the complete method, click Learn more button to the right.

Let's Get Started

First some basic notation

First let's start by looking at the time signature that helps us understand how to count and divide up time!

To the right we have the staff with a treble clef and time signature.  In this example it is called Three Four time.

The top number is going to tell us how many beats we can have in a measure.  More on this below.

The bottom note will tell us what kind of note gets the beat.

You can also think of the bottom note to represent the value of the whole note.

If we had a key signature (flats or sharps) it would go between the clef and time signature.  More on this later 🙂

C represents Common time which is also known as 4/4.  The measure to the right has a whole note rest in it to signify not to play anything for 4 beats (in this case 1 measure) and has a final bar line at the end to signify the end of a piece of music.

In this example we have two measures divided by a bar line with each of these measures having a whole note rest in them.  So in this example you wouldn't play anything for 8 beats (in this case 2 measures).

Whole Note

Worth 4 beats in 4/4

0:18 - 0:44
The whole note is held for the value of the bottom number in the time signature. In 4/4 or Common time the bottom number is 4 and so the whole note is held for 4 beats. Because the top number is also 4 we can only have 4 beats in a measure. Since the whole note is worth 4, we can't fit anything else in this measure.

Note on staff is a G (3rd string open)

Whole note on staff

The note sounding is an A (Sorry I will fix this).  If you play the 2nd fret of your 3rd string it will sound like the same A.

2:14 - 2:22
To the right is a whole note written for a chord chart.  In 4/4 time we will hold this for 4 beats.  So without a chord written above we don't know what to play.  Only that whatever it is will be held for 4.

Half Note

Worth 2 beats in 4/4

0:45 - 0:52
The half note is worth half of the whole note.
So if the whole note is worth 4 beats, the half note is worth 2. As long as the top number is 4, we can have 4 beats which means we can put 2 half notes in the measure.

Half notes on staff

The note sounding is an A (Sorry I will fix this)

2:23 - 2:28
To the right are two half notes worth two beats each in 4/4.  So in this case we will hit them  on beat 1 and 3.

Quarter Note

Worth 1 beat in 4/4

0:53 - 0:58
The quarter note will be worth half of a half note. So in the case of 4/4 where the half note was worth 2, the quarter note will be worth 1 and we could have 4 in a measure.

Quarter notes on staff

The note sounding is an A (Sorry I will fix this)

2:29 - 2:32
Next up is our quarter notes worth one beat each in 4/4.  So in this case we will play then on every beat.

Eighth Note

Worth 1/2 a beat in 4/4

0:59 - 1:08
The eighth note is worth half of the quarter note. Which means it is only worth half of a beat. 2 connected together would be worth 1 beat and we could put a total of 8 in a measure.

Eighth notes on staff

The note sounding is an A (Sorry I will fix this)

2:33 - 2:43
Next up is our eighth notes worth half a beat each in 4/4.  So we will play 8 notes in one measure and count 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &.  In this example we will play up and down strokes.  So note that when you were playing quarter notes you were playing all down but you had to come back up in between the down strokes.  Now you just have to catch the strings on the way back up.

Sixteenth Note

Worth 1/4 of a beat in 4/4

1:09 - 1:16
The sixteenth note will be worth half of an eighth note. So a single sixteenth note in 4/4 time would only be worth 1/4 of a beat. You could play 4 sixteenth notes in one beat and 16 in a measure.

Sixteenth notes on staff

The note sounding is an A (Sorry I will fix this)

2:44 - 2:47
So now we will play sixteenth notes which means we would need 16 in to fill one measure.  One 16th notes by itself in 4/4 time would be worth 1/4 of a beat.  Now we are playing a note in between the 1 and the & and we are calling them the e and a.  So we will count one beat as 1 e & a.

Pattern 1

Using Quarter Notes and Eighth Notes

3:54 - 4:34

Now let's take all this above info and learn a strum pattern!  This is an easy one with two quarter notes on beat 1 and 2 and then four eighth notes making up beats 3 and 4.

Pattern 2

Using Quarter Notes and Eighth Notes

4:35 - to end

This pattern is similar to pattern 1 but we have now moved the four eighth notes to beats 2 and 3!  We will work on speeding this pattern up.

Easy strum pattern for guitar

The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Strumming

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Thank you so much for checking out my page on strumming.  This is the first lesson of a series on strumming that is part of a complete step by step guitar method guaranteed to make you a great player and fast.

From 20 plus years of teaching, the most problematic area I see students struggle with is strumming.  Bad habits can easily form causing significant problems that make it difficult to play in time, play along with others or make anything sound right.  Not to mention, how much harder it makes to progress as an overall player.  Rhythm is everything.

The good news, it is all very easily solved.  And you already started by doing the lesson above. 🙂

Hi, my name is Teague. 🙂  I started this site in 1999 to provide material for my students to access for practicing between their weekly lesson.  Since then it has grown into a  complete, step-by-step, guitar method that will provide the skills to anyone at any level to be able to play anything they want.

Each lesson reinforces and expands on the previous lesson so you see results quickly.  Results that will make you excited to pick up your guitar and play!

  • Learn how to practice to make the most of your time
  • You will know what to practice to get results that feel great
  • Learn to focus with the play along tracks

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