Injecting Life Into A Basic Strum Pattern


The straight 8th note strum pattern has got to be one of the most common ones out there. Basic, but everyone uses it, and for a reason – it gets the job done. Okay, so how can we take that pattern and give it a shot of life and make it sound a lot more interesting? How can we make it serve the song better? How can we make it express something specific? The answer is found in HOW we strum, not necessarily changing the rhythm. In this lesson we’ll explore a couple ways to do that.

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88 Responses to “Injecting Life Into A Basic Strum Pattern”

  1. Patricia Lewis November 24, 2014 at 4:25 am #

    Hi Jonathan,
    My strumming is very boring…..I’m looking forward to your course. I’ve purchased a couple of your other courses and they were very helpful. I’m sure this one will be too!

    • Stan August 6, 2015 at 5:07 am #

      Take a listen to Zombie by the Cranberries. Their cord progressive is exactly what you are talking about.

  2. Scotty November 24, 2014 at 4:36 am #

    The idea of ‘pulling back” is an important one that is addressed in developing some new strumming patterns. This was very helpful.

  3. Keith Adams November 24, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

    This video is exactly what my playing has been needing for a quite a while to help differentiate my sound from all the others out there. Thanks a lot Jonathan!!

  4. Charles L Williams November 24, 2014 at 4:45 am #

    As always I found your video to be very helpful. Sometimes we all get comfortable in doing what we have always done for years. This video really opened up my thought process to the possibilities in adding a little flavor to my old strum techniques. Thanks!

  5. tess November 24, 2014 at 5:13 am #

    Hi Jonathan!! Being a self taught finger-style player- I have struggled with strumming for a very long time!! Your tutorials are very helpful!! I look forward to your e-mails all the time!! Thanks for sharing

  6. jc November 24, 2014 at 5:25 am #

    nice, clear explanation. RYTHM drives the music above all. Without it, the music drifts into confusion and mistakes on the simplest chord changes.

  7. Jane Williams November 24, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

    Hi Jono
    Your chords and the style you are teaching is identical to my song.
    Check it out!!

  8. Lynne November 24, 2014 at 6:20 am #

    Three ideas in 10 minutes… that is efficient teaching!!!

    • Shirley J Powell November 24, 2014 at 7:29 am #

      I love your methods of playing. I’m a beginner player, trying to teach myself. I’m 75 years old and enjoy youe methods.

  9. Len November 24, 2014 at 6:35 am #

    Thanks for sharing !! It sounds nice, uncomplicated, and a basic function for all types of guitar playing. I started with your courses “Unlocking I-IV-V” and “Guitar Scale Patterns” a year or so ago. Since I’ve accumulated quite a library of Instructional DVDs and try to practice with a DVD or two each day. Feels like the more I do the dumber I get and playing is not progressing like I want: “Travis Picking” has me stonewalled. Maybe “Back to Basics” and a Metronome should be revisited.

  10. m cantrell November 24, 2014 at 7:03 am #

    Loved the lesson. Varying the strum to create variety of sounds is a very power tool. Thx for this course. It’s just what I need.

  11. Stanley Fitzgerald November 24, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

    That is amazing. My strumming is very basic. Can't wait to try this in a song. Thanks

  12. John A. Shaw November 24, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

    good ideas, thanks

  13. Richard Hantzis November 24, 2014 at 7:19 am #

    I have started my seven year old son on your courses as well as Colin Daniels. This is the breakthrough that will allow him to express what he is trying to say musically to come out and be heard. Perfect timing and very appropriate for all.
    Thanx, keep up the good work!

  14. Sean November 24, 2014 at 7:27 am #

    Great video for a new perspective on strumming. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Scott Reid November 24, 2014 at 7:31 am #

    Another great video Jonathan. I will be adding this to my playing to add some different sounding aspects. Great advise like usual. I can’t wait to see the rest of the course.

  16. J Doug Korlann November 24, 2014 at 3:44 pm #

    My main goal in learning and playing the guitar is to enter a mini vacation. Just you the guitar and the sounds you create. If you have gone fishing or sailing you will know what I mean. I am not into preforming but at some time I might enjoy playing along with someone. I think the Dynamic Rhythm Guitar course will help expand what I might be able to do on the guitar either during my mini vacation or playing with other musicians.

  17. Paul Hildreth November 24, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

    simple but so effective

  18. l camara November 24, 2014 at 7:46 am #

    This chug strum and muting is making my playing more interesting as I tend to get bored with myself. I think it adds a bluesy feeling as well.

  19. Mike Wallace November 24, 2014 at 7:51 am #

    There seems to be something missing in my playing. People often make comments about my strumming. I’m sure they are trying to help but I don’t always understand what they are trying to say. Perhaps this is just what I need to get my playing on the right track.

  20. Michael Rozdilsky November 24, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    Will you add fingerpicking to your dynamic guitar?

  21. Mickey Duane November 24, 2014 at 7:53 am #

    Your teaching style is great. I have some of your courses. I am doing some home recording – working on some demos to send in to try and get something going. The bank is taking the house in January so with this new course it will give me additional ideas to make my demos sound much better. Thanks.

    Mickey Duane

  22. Colin Cawley November 24, 2014 at 8:06 am #

    Hi Jonathan,
    I really appreciate your straightforward way of explaining things without putting too much into a short lesson. I don’t feel comfortable with a plectrum and prefer to use my thumb and fingers, (the fleshy part not the nails as I prefer mine short) but I like to do something other than just the same old strum, I often pluck one or two of the higher strings on the upstroke and this keeps the sound more interesting, but I will try this method of muting too so once again thanks for a great lesson and I look forward to the improvements it will no doubt bring…

  23. S Shoko November 24, 2014 at 8:10 am #

    The most complicated problems always have the simplest of solutions. Thanks Jonathan. I’ll use this at church next Sunday – the sound of the low notes strummed alone is amazing

  24. ralph November 24, 2014 at 8:14 am #

    looks easy thanks

  25. November 24, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

    Yes, there is a section on finger picking, as well as a section on hybrid picking too!

  26. Valerie November 24, 2014 at 8:18 am #

    I have been following Jonathan for a long time now. He is one of the best guitar instructor on the web. I will continue to follow him.

  27. Fletch November 24, 2014 at 8:18 am #

    Informative and worth noting that using this will allow us to create variation from song to song because a lot of tunes use a “straight” eighths thing. So modifying this idea will yield other variations when applied to other strum patterns, too. Very nice.

  28. Tommy Bowman November 24, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

    very gooood! lesson w/lots of learning built into it………..

  29. bill geib November 24, 2014 at 8:42 am #

    Very nice

  30. Scott Christian November 24, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    I love your lessons there very in depth and very informative

  31. Greg Tobias November 24, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    I have been using the straight strum pattern in some 12 Bar Blues work and this is going to open up a lor more possibilities without changing a lot. Thanks

  32. Charlie McIntosh November 24, 2014 at 8:54 am #

    An interesting concept. But hearing it played on top of the drum track was much more effective in demonstrating the idea.

  33. John E Fleury November 24, 2014 at 4:55 pm #

    Nice video. Sometimes you need to get back to basics in order to move ahead. To enhance it just a bit, I would strum the lower strings then add some chord tones to the strum.

  34. David Bacon November 24, 2014 at 8:59 am #

    Hi Jonathan;
    Very cool! I have Colin Danials course on stage 2: Scales. I am just getting to the point of going to Guitar Center for some private lessons on strumming as this seems to be what I am missing right now. However I definitely would like to check your course out in more detail first. That way I would know if the teacher is on the up and up. If you know what I meen. I have heard some “horror” stories about teachers dragging things out to make more money from student who progress well.

  35. Terry Kolemaine November 24, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

    I am a singer who accompanies himself with rhythm guitar. I have been playing rhythm guitar for decades. I know about a zillion chords and play every day. That having been said, I need to tell you that the course you are offering is a wonderful validation of what I've been doing for years! Not everyone is a lead player and I play very little of what you'ld consider lead. But, as you mention, much can be done with dynamics, strum pattern and muting. What I see in your offering is exceptional! Keep the faith of dynamic rhythm.
    And thanks for the uplifting validation. Terry

  36. Edward C Dumchus November 24, 2014 at 5:24 pm #

    One way I like to add dynamics to a strum pattern is to either not hit the strings on one of the downbeats, or mute them as I strum.

  37. Paul November 24, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    I will buy it………Why……You mentioned about how and when to add a riff. That is enough for me to buy it. Riffs….ok. When to jump in….I don’t know . you sold me on WHEN!!!!!!

    Would you please stop using Facebook for a reply.

    • Jonathan Boettcher November 24, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

      Yes, “when” is just as important as “what” and just as important as “how” – a proper mix of those gives you DYNAMICS! 🙂

  38. Ed November 24, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    My strums are terrible! And my timing is off! So I’ll use this course to improve both!

  39. John Mollitor November 24, 2014 at 6:15 pm #

    Thanks for the lesson, sounds good.

  40. Brian November 24, 2014 at 10:34 am #

    I have a couple of your other courses and have learned a lot from them. This introductory video is no different…it has a lot of good ideas.

  41. Sam Lyons November 24, 2014 at 7:28 pm #

    I really like the idea of spicing up everyday chords with the various strum patterns. You explain things so well and easy to understand. Hope I'm the lucky one to receive a copy of your course. Jason

  42. Derek November 24, 2014 at 11:46 am #

    Strumming just seems too general (too many tones at once) to me as I prefer tones that are more articulate. This seems to make strumming more articulate for me, and therefore more interesting. You gotta learn it anyway so why not with a little more finesse.

  43. November 24, 2014 at 7:51 pm #

    Great to hear Terry!

  44. November 24, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

    Kinda like a guitar-cation… nice.

  45. John Keast November 24, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

    Hi Jonathon,
    I have only been learning the guitar for a few months. I already have your I IV V and Scale Pattern Lessons. I love your approach to teaching. This will be another great course.

  46. Jayne Davis November 24, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

    I so need help adding spice to my strumming.

  47. Heidi November 24, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

    Love how something seemingly so simple, can add so much color and flavor. Especially nice/useful if backing up a vocal, or letting the song “take a breath” now and then! 😀 “More” or “louder” isn’t always better, that’s for sure! 😀 Great stuff!

  48. Martin November 24, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

    So simple yet so effective, should be interesting to use with the 12 Bar Blues.

  49. Desmond McCoy November 24, 2014 at 9:05 pm #

    Very clear instruction. Your tutorial style is good. Glad I found your page. Thanks,

  50. Jim November 24, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

    Thanks Jonathan! I really look forward to your emails and am excited about the new course. Decided to start playing guitar (a life’s dream) in retirement about a year and a half ago and am having a blast with it. Love rhythm and looking forward to spicing it up!

  51. Ramon Moreno November 24, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

    Sounds like a good course. Since strumming is about 70% of most songs, it a good idea to learn how to change the Dynamics of any strums to make more of it your own.
    Already learning playing just part of the chord and muting different areas are something that I can use during practice. With using the root note and various forms of strumming
    you can help this old man sound better while playing.

  52. Ernie November 24, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    I play for a well-known charity organization once a month, that on any given night can minister up to four hundred people (men, women, and children), and I intend to employ the technique you just taught during the time when the offering is taken; it’s a perfect time to employ this method, smooth, quiet, and subtle. Thanks!

  53. Greg Meylan November 24, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

    Hello Jonathon,
    I am looabout your new course (25gb!). I don’t have much experience of other guitar teachers and have taken it up later in life with little ability but a lot of enthusiasm. I appreciate your approach and love a bit of theory too.

  54. Greg Meylan November 24, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

    What I meant to say was, I am looking forward to your new course.

  55. Daniel Boehrer November 24, 2014 at 10:45 pm #

    Yep, good idea to improve my sound. I can already think of a lot of different variations to be tested out :-). Cheers from Switzerland

  56. Ernest November 24, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

    I learned to play guitar with just power cords and have never learned to really play anything with such beautiful strumming. Thank you for this video, can’t wait for your course.

  57. bligh November 24, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    At 76 I needed something new to try, I always wanted to try guitar, but never had the time, love country music, but didn’t know where to start, I’m hoping this will be the right thing. time will tell . thanks for what you have given already. Bligh

  58. Joe November 24, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

    Great lessons. Very straightforward yet effective. Thanks!

  59. Deborah Smith November 25, 2014 at 12:03 am #

    Love the video, can't wait to try it out. Many thanks.

  60. Rick Morris November 25, 2014 at 12:12 am #

    I'm always looking for ways to spice up my rhythm playing and this looks like just the ticket!!

  61. Clifford Allan Moore November 25, 2014 at 12:22 am #

    Great ideas,as I change my strumming patterns I often use single notes in the chord. This gives me another option. Thanks, cliff

  62. Gary Conder November 25, 2014 at 12:27 am #

    I like the premise of this course. I honestly get bored with myself sometimes when playing song after song in my performances and anything I can do to vary things is a wecome addition. Another thing I'm trying to do is add some arpegio's between chords.. I'd like to see you do that too, but since I haven't seen the whole thing, maybe you're already doing that. Thanks.

  63. Samuel Bloodgood November 25, 2014 at 12:59 am #

    Thanks for the video Jonathan! I look forward to the course.

  64. Jim November 24, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

    I’m a rhythm player and can use all the help I can get. Thanks.

  65. Don Tittle November 24, 2014 at 6:06 pm #

    I really like the variety of sounds you get from such simple chords! Sounds great.

  66. Steve Adams November 24, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

    I did a lot of damage to my left index finger that has made riffs and lead hard, this course will make playing a lot easier, thanks very much.

  67. Keith Kelley November 25, 2014 at 12:26 am #

    Thank you for sharing this video. A value to beginners and novices alike. And possibly most other guitar enthusiasts.

    Cheers. 🙂

  68. Benn Walker November 25, 2014 at 2:59 am #

    This is the second sample of the upcoming new course I have watched. Can’t wait until the new course is available!

  69. Maame Efua Egyirba Baidoo November 25, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    Hi, I am singer and want learn how to play the guitar. Please help me learn. Thanks for your offer.

  70. Douglas November 25, 2014 at 6:04 am #

    A lot to learn and that is good because that is what it is all about always learn new things to keep it all interesting and not get bored with the same old thing a good lesson for everyone.

  71. Anonymous November 25, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    ok very good

  72. Rick King November 25, 2014 at 7:28 am #

    Thanks, I am too serious and sound boring. This will help big time

  73. Richard King November 25, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

    Nice to be able to spruce it up a bit instead of boring!

  74. Ken Levings November 25, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

    been doing some of this for a while. play mostly rhythum. no lead . rhythum should make the lead sound good. voice, guitar, piano what ever the lead is.

  75. Mike Hathaway November 25, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

    hey jonathon; enjoyed the lesson . you are easy to to learn from.

  76. Dave Lister November 25, 2014 at 9:42 am #

    interesting: are there any Rhythm Patterns that are specific to playing with open tunings????

  77. John Priestley November 25, 2014 at 8:32 pm #

    I'm a beginner, and that short explanation and example gives me a great next step to achieve. Sounded so cool.

  78. James Crombie November 26, 2014 at 12:41 am #

    I find this very helpful Jonathan in helping me take the boredom out of practice thank you

  79. Starr Gentry November 25, 2014 at 8:56 pm #

    I learned how to play the guitar after school as a small child. Attending a Catholic School taught by Nuns. I went on to play in church before classes in the morning then on Sunday’s. During my second marriage in the 90’s, I was asked to help out with worship services, which I played for quite a few years. There has been quite a few years in between these two periods that I stopped playing so my strumming has been a problem. I’ve committed to start playing again in my current church once I re-teach myself on strumming. They need serious help with their worship team. But with Contemporary Christian Music (Chris Tomlin, Casting Crown, etc), I really want to play with rhythm that will make my church members want to get up from their seats and really get into the music and worship. So I feel like I could really benefit from your course.

  80. Jim November 26, 2014 at 2:53 am #

    Amazing, I’m a baby boomer beginner and your strum video enabled my guitar playing/practice to go to the next level. The explanation you provided was excellent and so easy. This has shown me that I can go to the next level of my playing without fear. Thank you!! Keep those videos coming!!!


  81. Keith Anderson November 28, 2014 at 12:01 pm #

    dynamics – sounds like it could an interesting course

  82. Shirley Powell November 28, 2014 at 8:13 am #

    I love looking at your video . I purchased a guitar in Oct. and trying to teach myself to play. I would love to purchase your course but don’t have the money I’m 75 years old. And wish I could afford the courses. Your You lesson are awsome.

    • Shirley Powell November 28, 2014 at 8:14 am #

      Please help me.

  83. Kathryn Kelm November 30, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    Thanks for sharing. Wish I had listened to this sooner. I appreciate the ideas. Simplicity rules!

  84. Kathryn Kelm November 30, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    Thanks for sharing. Wish I had listened to this sooner. I appreciate the ideas. Simplicity rules!

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