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Guitar strum Play: base pattern on open G tuning. Strumming is used to create a chord. Many patterns are created through subtracting beats from this base.
Guitar strum Play: pattern created by subtracting the second and fifth (of eight) eighth notes from the base, above.
Ska stroke[1] Play: features dampened staccato upbeat downstrokes.

In music, strumming is a way of playing a stringed instrument such as a guitar, ukulele, or mandolin. A strum or stroke is a sweeping action where a finger or plectrum brushes over several strings to generate sound.[2] On most stringed instruments, strums are typically executed by a musician's designated strum hand (typically the musician's dominant hand,[3] which is often responsible for generating the majority of sound on a stringed instrument), while the remaining hand (referred to as the fret hand[4] on most instruments with a fingerboard) often supports the strum hand by altering the tones and pitches of any given strum.[5]

Strums are often contrasted with plucking, as a means of vibrating an instrument's strings. In plucking, a specific string or designated set of strings are individually targeted to vibrate, whereas in strumming, a less precise targeting is usually used. Compared to other plucking techniques, any group of strings brushed in a single sweep by a plectrum could be considered a strum due to the plectrum's less precise string group targeting (however, a plectrum might simultaneously pluck a small group of strings without being considered a strum). In contrast, a musician could utilize a technique with more precise string group targeting (such as a fingerstyle or fingerpick technique) to pluck all the strings on a stringed instrument at once and this would still be considered a pluck, not a strum.


There are a variety of methods for writing strum notation.
Arrow notation
Letter notation
Traditional notation

Strumming patterns

A strumming pattern or strum is a preset pattern used by a rhythm guitar.[6] For example, a pattern in common time or 4
consisting of alternating down and up eighth note strokes may be written:


Rock and pop

The pattern most typical of rock and related styles is:

d du udu

The final upstroke is sometimes omitted altering the strumming pattern slightly to d du ud. This pattern is often called "Old Faithful",[7] or when played on ukulele, the "Island Strum".

Examples of other strumming patterns include:[8]

Jazz and funk

The simple four-to-a-bar rhythm is associated with jazz guitarists such as Freddie Green, although they may subtly vary the rhythm of a chord on some beats to add interest.

A simple eight-to-a-bar (8 eighth notes) rhythm is known as "straight eights" as opposed "swung eights", in which each pair are played in a rhythm that resembles the first and third notes in a triplet.

The fretting hand can also mute the strings on the fretboard to damp a chord, creating staccato and percussive effects. In reggae and ska, a few staccato "chops" are played per bar. In funk rhythm playing, the strumming hand keeps a fairly steady motion in 16th notes, while the left hand, basically holding down a jazz chord damps some of them in a syncopated pattern.

Fingerstyle strumming strokes

Some of the many possible fingerstyle strums include

See also


  1. ^ Snyder, Jerry (1999). Jerry Snyder's Guitar School, p.28. ISBN 0-7390-0260-0.
  2. ^ "Definition of STRUMMING". Retrieved 2018-06-22.
  3. ^ "Should You Play Left-Handed or Right-Handed? | Hub Guitar". Retrieved 2018-06-22.
  4. ^ "Fret-Hand Fitness: Four Wicked Workouts to Develop Your Digits". Retrieved 2018-06-22.
  5. ^ "Right-handed and Left-handed Vs Right and Left Hand Guitars". Retrieved 2018-06-22.
  6. ^ "Strumming patterns for the Ukulele". Retrieved 2023-02-20.
  7. ^ Sandercoe, Justin (2013). Justinguitar.Com: Rock Songbook. London: Music Sales Ltd. p. 69. ISBN 978-1780386874.
  8. ^ Dix, Bruce (2011). You Can Teach Yourself Country Guitar. pp. 19–26. ISBN 9781610654869.