It’s hard to have fun playing the guitar when it includes a lot of the basics, scales and drills. Learning to strum a guitar correctly will have you playing songs in no time and having fun learning. By learning a few basic practices and familiarizing yourself with your guitar, you’ll be able to play any songs you want. Follow these steps for more details.
Know the guitar
Hold the guitar correctly
Keep the guitar balanced on your thigh and tight against your body. To learn how to strum a guitar properly, you need to keep the elbow of the hand you are going to play with away from the strings near the base of the guitar so that you can use your wrist to play. Hold the neck of the guitar in the palm of your other hand, in the “V” between your thumb and forefinger.
If you have to use your arms to hold the guitar, it will be difficult to strum properly. Let the weight of the guitar rest on your knees while securing the guitar with your elbow. Make sure you can move your hand without moving the guitar.
Hold the opening pick correctly
Position the palm of your hand in front of your body and bend your fingers. Place the opening pick on the tip of your index finger so that it points directly towards your chest. Hold it with your thumb firmly, letting only a few inches of the opening pick free from your finger. Play a bit to get a good grip and feel comfortable with your pick.
You can also strum without a pick using the thumb of your hand. Johnny Cash, for example, has never used an opening pick. This choice depends on your ability to achieve fairly clear sound using your fingers. Practice with an opening pick. You can skip this solution if you find the opening pick is too inconvenient and you prefer the sound you get from using your fingers to play.
It can be a bit painful not to use an opening pick. Anyway, the calluses that will develop on your fingers are a good thing.
Get used to the action of the guitar
Guitar action refers to the height of the strings on the neck and the intensity you need to put in to play. Practice tuning correctly and getting a clear sound on each of the strings.
Your playing may sound a bit dry if you strum “dead strings” – that is, not pressing enough on the frets. It can be very frustrating trying to learn to play when you are not getting your chords right. If your playing sounds a bit dry or disorganized, stop playing and tune correctly by positioning your fingers on the correct strings.
Scrape the strings between the rosette and the bridge
Try strumming the strings in different places to get a feel for the sound produced. Strumming directly on the soundhole will produce a lower and louder sound while strumming near the bridge will give you a higher, lower sound.
Although there isn’t really a “right” place, in general, it is best to play about an inch below the rosette. Try out your guitar to get an idea of where it sounds the best.
Practice strumming all the strings
At first, try playing simple chords like a G chord with down strokes. Play quarter tones, one stroke at a time, doing your best to reach all the strings. Keep the right tempo by counting four hits per measure.
Starting from the mid-low string, strum all the strings, trying to keep the same intensity. It can be difficult at first to play chords making all the strings sound more or less the same. Beginners tend to play the E string first or last with a little more intensity.
Try to hit the ropes upwards
When you are able to play well and still keep the beat, try playing from the E string upwards. This is called hitting the strings up. It can be a little more difficult, but you should practice playing all the strings the same, letting the string vibrate and produce a great sound rather than playing each string separately and slowly.
Use your wrist
A good shot depends on your wrist. You can easily spot beginners who tend to play by waving their arms and whose gestures start from the elbow. Learn to keep your elbow tight against the guitar and to play using your wrist.
Many beginners find it difficult to hold their pick correctly when learning to play. Most problems are caused by holding the opening pick too close to the base. It can be very inconvenient. Make sure you hold your opening pick with only a small portion sticking out of your fingers.
Learn the basic rhythms
Learn to alternate downward strokes and upward strokes
The easiest rhythm you can learn is to alternate down and up strokes on each bar: (BHBHBHBH) down up, down up, down up, down up. Keep the tempo the same and try to alternate a down stroke and an up stroke for each measure, dividing the quarter tone into eighth of a tone.
Instead of one stroke for each measure, you will have two strokes for each measure. These are the eighths of a tone. You have to try to keep the same tempo. So keep tapping your foot at the same pace while playing twice in each measure.
Change the chords
When you feel comfortable with the down and up strokes on a chord, change. Go from a G chord to a C chord every bar and then every two bars, practicing changing chords at the right time.
•Take your time to learn this and master the chord changes. It may be slow at first, but you will be able to play better if you learn to change chords now. Taking the next step before fully mastering chord changes can be frustrating and overwhelming afterwards. Learn how to change chords correctly and you’ll be able to play songs in no time.
Do not play the last stroke of each bar
Almost no song contains a rhythm that simply alternates down and up strokes. It’s also boring to constantly play the same beat. Do not play a down stroke and listen to the change of rhythm: (BHBHBH-H). By the time you need to play the last down shot, don’t play anything.
To learn to play more complex rhythms, you must first learn to put aside certain up or down strokes while maintaining the same gesture that you make with your hand. In other words, you have to keep moving your wrist while trying not to touch the strings with your fingers.
Practice pop-rock rhythms
A pattern of rhythm that you will surely hear in a lot of guitar lessons is (BBHH-BH).
Listen carefully to your favorite songs that contain an acoustic guitar to get an idea of the rhythms used. Now that you have mastered the basics, you can start to vary your rhythms, leaving out certain strokes to achieve different effects for your song.
Learn how to use your strumming hand to cushion the strings
Another way to add variation to your beats is to learn to dampen the strings with the palm of your hand. You will keep the same rhythm, but you will have a more percussive effect by strumming the strings with your pick.
Neil Young, for example, uses this technique on his own rhythms. Surfer and pop music star Jack Johnson also uses this technique to create a style of his own that you can learn quite easily.
Learn to play while keeping the tempo
Beginning guitarists tend to play slowly. They focus too much on the beat forgetting to keep the beat. When playing, try to focus on the chords first and then the rhythm. You will be playing like a pro very quickly.
Start playing songs
You will have more fun playing chords and songs that you know. Start with an easy song that will teach you some basic beats.
You can play almost all popular folk and country music tracks using the G, C, and D chords. Pick a few songs and practice to learn the chords.
Learn to recognize the chords and strings you have to play in a song. The D major chord, for example, only requires strumming five strings. The G major chord requires strumming all the strings.
Things to keep in mind
Practice is the most important thing. To have fun you need to practice, but also to have fun. Remember that the guitar is a creative activity, not a job.
You should be able to play chords easily, but if you don’t, you will have to work hard.
If you can’t identify the chords in a song, try finding them on the guitar forums or YouTube.
Stop playing if you have pain in your wrist. Stretch your hands often enough to avoid cramping.
Check this out! How to play guitar with long nails