8 Strumming Mistakes that will SABOTAGE your SOUND!

In this article, we’ll go over the top 8 strumming mistakes and provide some tips on how to fix them.

  1. I will begin by discussing the first common mistake of holding your pick too tightly. As a beginner, it is understandable to become tense and focused and end up holding your pick too tightly. This leads to a tight sound instead of a loose one. The solution is easy; I recommend my students write down “LOOSE GRIP” on a post-it note and put it on their guitar to remind them. Dropping your pick with a loose grip is not a huge deal, and most guitarists usually have extra picks taped to their mic stand.
  2. The second mistake is scooping upstrokes, which may lead to abrasive sounds even with a loose grip. To fix this, one should treat their pick like a brush and pretend that they are painting the strings. I call this adjusting your pick angle. When you do a downstroke, the pick should be angled differently than when you do an upstroke, which is angled the other way.
  3. The third problem is stiff strumming, where students tend to tighten their wrist and forearm, leading to all the motion coming from their elbow. To fix this, I advise my students to use all three gears, which include wrist, forearm, and elbow, to create a more complex motion.
  4. The fourth problem is selective motion, where you strum only when necessary, leading to your arm being separate from the rhythm of the song. A solution to this is continuous arm motion, where your arm is always moving down and up, down on the numbers, up on the ends.
  5. The fifth problem is dragging, where students tend to drag their hand across the guitar strings, leading to muted sounds. To fix this, I advise students to increase their range of motion, allowing for a more homogenous and smoother sound.
  6. The sixth problem is rhythm issues, where students may struggle to feel the beat. A solution to this is to count as you play. Go as slow as you need to!
  7. The seventh problem is playing with the same volume the entire time. This is fine at first, but if you want your playing to sound good, you’ll need to learn to use dynamics in your playing.
  8. Finally, the eighth problem is “all or nothing” where you hit all the strings, or none at all. The truth is, we can aim for certain strings on certain strokes to bring out different elements of our sound. This sounds more complicated than it really is, and when combined with point #7 leads to a total level of control over your sound.

I hope this has been helpful in addressing some of the common strumming mistakes beginners make. Remember that good strumming is crucial to the sound of your guitar and is a gateway to success in playing the guitar. If you need more help, consider checking out my beginner guitar course.

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