There are a whole bunch of mistakes I see guitarists make a lot.
Here is a little list of some of these for you to watch out for…
Beware of these strumming mistakes!
1 – Speeding up and slowing down
Nothing sounds more amateurish than starting off a ballad at a gentle, slow tempo only to see that by the time the song ends, it sounds like an ultra-fast punk rock cover of a bluegrass jam! I joke as I used to be guilty of this.
2 – Pausing the strumming arm
I always joke when people pause the strumming arm at various points that it is very much like a robot strumming. So, unless you want to look like C-3PO from Star Wars playing guitar, it is key to keep the strumming arm moving in a smooth and fluid manner.
3 – Strumming the wrong strings
If you ever strum a D chord and find it starts to sound boomy and messy, it may be that you are strumming the Low E and/or A strings too. That ain’t great and will make the chord sound very “muddy”. The key is to learn the root notes for each chord and only strum the chord from this note.
4 – Having a weak upstrum
Upstrums can be awkward for many. Get them wrong, they can sound jagged and a bit like a harp but get them smooth and they can unlock your strumming (most strumming patterns have upstrums after all) and add a pleasant contrasting tone to the downstrum.
5 – Strumming all the strings all the time
If you strum every string in a chord all the time, your strumming will probably start to sound very “samey”. One simple trick you can do is to split your 6 strings up into sets of 3 bass strings and 3 treble strings, and then alternate at various points which set of 3 strings you strum.
6 – Gripping a pick too tightly
This is one that drives people mad, yet they don’t often realise they do it. When picking individual strings, it is okay to be firmer on the pick but when strumming, a tight, clenched grip will usually mean a harsh, grating, and rough sound that I imagine would be like the equivalent of Bob Dylan singing Pavarotti! (Kidding, Bob!)
7 – Using your thumb to strum
For some people, this works. For instance, if you are a singer and like the mellow sound a thumb strum can give, that’s great. The problem is strumming with the thumb tends to hide a lot of mistakes with the fretting hand (such as dead notes in chords). Therefore, everyone should at least be able to strum with a pick and/or the index finger too.
Do you find yourself making these mistakes?
Well, if you do, you will be pleased to know that last week I recorded a video on them, not just showing the mistakes, but…
…Also, some quick fixes to remedy them.
The video is a free bonus for anyone who gets the new paperback version of The Ultimate Guide to Strumming.
You can stream this video online or download it and it is well worth a watch as it’s like a summary of what is covered in Part 1 of the book.
If you get the book, send me a quick email with your order number, or forward your receipt to me and then I will send you over the video bonus.
After the Sunday night deadline though, this bonus will expire (unless you email me before then, in which case you will get it forever).
The bonus is well worth watching and will get you set up nicely with the basics before the book arrives in the post.
P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.