Best Strumming Guitar Lessons (our Top Pick)
Guitar Tricks Fundamentals I & II
If you're looking for guitar lessons on strumming patterns, basic timing, and beginner-level rhythm technique, the Guitar Fundamentals I and II courses taught by Lisa McCormick are your best options to start with.
Understanding the mechanics of strumming is one of the most difficult aspects of learning to play guitar.
This is especially true if your mind doesn't think in terms of rhythm and beat. Yet, this concept is difficult to teach since you can't really refer to a pattern or structure. It's a core and basic musical element that's oddly difficult to explain and challenging for teachers to communicate if a student doesn't just "feel it."
However, there are some great guitar lessons on strumming that explain strumming patterns in a way that you can understand and apply to become a better rhythm guitar player.
How will these lessons help me?
These lessons help you get away from static, stiff downstrokes and into more dynamic, interesting strumming patterns.
This makes you better at playing in a group, following a drummer, and holding music together with more interesting chord progressions.
It's extremely important for acoustic or primarily rhythm guitar players.
The lessons recommended in this article help you in this way by highlighting and addressing the following concepts and techniques as they relate to strumming:
- Basic chord changes
- Keeping time and counting
- Thinking in terms of a beat
We'll recommend guitar lessons that are already grouped into courses, having selected four from Guitar Tricks and three from JamPlay.
Browse via the table below, or continue on for more details on each course.
Our Favorite Guitar Lessons on Strumming
We've chosen two paid programs (with seven courses between them) and three free YouTube resources that we think will be effective in helping you get started. You can checkout our section on lessons vs courses for more info on whether you should go with free or paid, but here's a quick summary:
- Paid courses: Better for those looking for a comprehensive solution for strumming and rhythm guitar in general with a wide range of material that's well-organized.
- Free lessons (YouTube): Better for those looking specifically for strumming help and a quicker solution that doesn't cover rhythm guitar as a whole
Justinguitar: Struggling with strumming?
Andy Guitar: Strumming Exercises
Howcast: Your First Strumming Pattern
1. Guitar Tricks Fundamentals I and II
The tricky part of learning how to strum is that you need to make sure you address some prerequisites first. Primarily, you need to have a basic understanding of chords and be able to make simple chord changes before you start digging into strumming patterns.
Lisa McCormick teaches these prerequisites in the Guitar Fundamentals I course before taking you through strumming in 4/4 time and 3/4 time.
In Guitar Fundamentals Part II, you'll apply that strumming pattern with power chords, songs, barre chords, and more use of the open chords from Part I.
Here's a quick list of the concepts address:
- Rhythm basics
- Strumming in 4/4 time
- Strumming in 3/4 time
- Applied strumming to power, barre, and open chords
It's one of the simplest and most tightly organized ways to learn rhythm guitar and with a focus on strumming. We'd recommend this course exclusively for beginners, or those who might need to brush up on the basics while still getting some work on strumming, specifically.
Read the full review: Guitar Tricks
IDEAL FOR: Beginners and those looking for a more foundational guitar course that includes a focus on strumming.
- Strumming concepts are succinctly covered
- Instructor Lisa McCormick does a great job of explaining and demonstrating concepts
- Strumming is explained in concrete terms, but also addresses the basic music theory behind it
- Lots of instruction on chords and chord patterns
- Lisa's teaching is easy to follow
2. Strumming in Rock & Strumming Technique by Anders Mouridsen
Ready to move into the more complex aspects of strumming?
Or perhaps the Fundamentals courses were too basic for you.
If so, there are two more Guitar Tricks courses - both taught by Anders Mouridsen - that we would recommend, either as follow ups to the Fundamentals courses or starting points for more capable/intermediate players that don't need a refresher on the basics:
These lessons deal with incorporating palm muting, ghost strums, eighth notes, 16th notes, and even cover some tone concepts as they relate to your strumming patterns and styles.
- Palm muting mechanics
- Ghost strum
- Eighth notes
- 16th notes
- How strumming patterns can impact tone
Generally speaking, these are good courses to follow up with if you're focusing more on electric guitar or if you just need something more advanced.
IDEAL FOR: More advanced players, or contextualizing your strumming ability around the electric guitar
- Lots of demonstration
- Opportunities for application within the course
- More advanced timing concepts covered
- Anders is an excellent teacher
- Makes a great introductory electric guitar course, though great for acoustic guitar as well
- Video backdrop is a bit dark in spots
3. Boom-Chick Acoustic Strumming by Ben Lindholm
While Anders' two courses take you in more of an electric guitar focus, Ben Lindholm's "Boom-Chick" courses are focused on more advanced acoustic guitar strumming concepts. This includes technique like using your thumb, chord progression theory, and adding fingerpicking technique to your strumming patterns.
- Implementing your thumb
- Chord progression theory
- Basic finger picking technique
- More advanced strumming patterns
These lessons are focused on blues and fingerpicking technique, though the rhythmic takeaway can be applied to a wide range of styles.
Where Anders' course was focused on more advanced electric guitar strumming concepts, Ben's course is the acoustic guitar equivalent, though both courses can apply to either instrument.
IDEAL FOR: Contextualizing your strumming ability around acoustic guitar
- Perfect for acoustic players
- Incorporates a lot of concepts adjacent to strumming
- Considered a more advanced course
- Good balance of bass and melody concepts
- Fairly big leap in difficulty from the beginner strumming courses
4. Guitar Tricks Acoustic Level I Course Taught by Anders Mouridsen
While the Acoustic Level I course from Guitar Tricks is more of a broad focus on the acoustic guitar style, it does cover a lot of material related to strumming.
This includes the basics of right hand movement, strumming through a chord progression, and strumming with a Waltz feel. It's a good pre-requisite for those wanting to learn a little more acoustic guitar before getting into the Boom-Chick acoustic lessons.
Anders also covers downstroke strumming, string muting, thumb/finger strumming, and root/chord strumming patterns.
Here's a full review of the Acoustic Level I course.
IDEAL FOR: Going beyond strumming basics while staying within "acoustic basics"
- Covers a full list of acoustic concepts
- A good bridge course to the Ben Lindholm material
- Newly published in 2019 in 4k
- Lots of nuanced strumming topics covered
5. JamPlay's Basic Guitar with Mark Lincoln
Moving over to JamPlay, Mark Lincoln's acoustic course on guitar basics is a great place to get some helpful lessons on strumming patterns and rhythm technique.
He covers the basics in the context of open chord strumming and strumming exercises, before getting into some of the more complex mechanics of strumming in the later stages of his course.
- Open chord strumming
- Strumming exercises
- Complex strumming mechanics
It's a good guitar course for beginners that want to get a broad overview with some added strumming help.
IDEAL FOR: Beginners and a more intensive introductory to strumming and rhythm guitar overall
- Tons of material
- A more involved course that's still good for beginners
- Covers all the basics
- Mark Lincoln has over 40 years of experience
- Not as neatly organized as most GT courses
6. JamPlay's Beginner Guitar with David Isaacs
David Isaac's course is also an introductory acoustic course, though it covers some slightly more nuanced strumming ideas.
Syncopated rhythm patterns, 16th notes, and strumming in the context of blues are all covered in David's lessons, surrounded by a full compliment of basic chord studies.
- 16th notes
- Blues strumming
- Understanding basic chords
His style focuses on a lot of pentatonic scales and bluesy melodies, making his course particularly ideal for those interested in the blues acoustic playing styles. Think in terms of strumming like you'd hear from Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters.
You'll learn strumming and rhythm, but you'll have a lot of melodic blues movements infused throughout the process.
IDEAL FOR: Blues acoustic styles, basic chord study, and those wanting a balance of lead and rhythm material
- Infused with blues and melodic concepts
- Nice balance of beginner and intermediate strumming technique
- Lots of chord study that goes beyond strumming
- Picking technique also addressed
- More time devoted to lead guitar concepts
- A bit short compared to similar JamPlay courses
7. JamPlay's Basic Acoustic Guitar with Eve Goldberg
Eve Goldberg's beginner course is a lengthy but lower key look at the acoustic guitar with a lot of strumming concepts worked into the study plan. The boom-chick strum pattern and fingerpicking patterns are both covered in a lot of detail, along with chord structures and bass line runs. Eve is a folk-style acoustic guitarist, so you'll get a lot of that style coming through her teaching methods.
- Boom chick strum pattern
- Fingerpicking patterns (separating bass and melody)
- Chord composition and structure
- Incorporating bass lines
- Focus on a folk playing style
She also incorporates a lot of advanced strumming concepts and application opportunities into the later parts of her course.
If you're a songwriter or you're into folk-style acoustic guitar, this course could be a really nice fit for you.
IDEAL FOR: Folks and acoustic-centered fingerpicking styles
- Good balance of beginner and advanced strumming concepts
- Great for acoustic-centered styles
- Course covers a wide range of rhythm concepts
- Eve's playing and teaching style is easy to follow
- Course is available as a single-fee download
- Organization can be hard to follow in spots
How can I improve my strumming? Simple Steps
Maybe you want to try and tackle the process on your own, without the help of a video or lesson series. If that's the case, here are some tips you can use right now to improve your strumming technique:
- Use a guitar pick (easier for starting out)
- Work on strumming down and up (downstroke and upstroke)
- Work on strumming in 4/4 time (simply count 1, 2, 3, 4)
- Work on palm muting basics
- Listen to music while focusing on beats and strumming patterns
What are some songs that highlight helpful strumming patterns to imitate?
Here are a few songs I'd recommend listening to, just so you can imitate the strumming patterns.
Free Strumming Guitar Lessons from YouTube
Of course there are plenty of strumming lessons that are completely free, if not as well-organized as some of the paid stuff. Three YouTube videos we recommend specifically are the following:
Strumming Lessons or Full Rhythm Course?
Even if you're trying to improve strumming specifically, you'll often find strumming lessons nested within larger rhythm courses. This is where resources like YouTube might actually be more helpful to you if you only want to focus on strumming. You can search for the video that directly addresses that issue and then save the money of the full course.
On the other hand, if you want to learn strumming in the context of rhythm guitar, and improve your rhythm playing broadly, the full course is a better option for you because it will cover everything in topical order and will be more comprehensive than an isolated YouTube video.
A good question to ask yourself:
Am I looking for just strumming help, or do a want a full compliment of rhythm guitar instruction?
The answer to that question will help you decide whether you're looking for a paid course or a free, isolated lesson.
Take Guitar Chalk's word for it?
Before we select guitar lessons for a particular topic, we establish specific criteria to help us figure out which courses we would select. In this case, we didn't just look for great guitar courses, but we looked for courses that specifically addressed strumming in a helpful rhythm guitar context.
We're guitar players and musicians that review and recommend lessons first-hand, by actually using them.
We contact the people that create these courses and get a full, paid membership, exactly what you would experience as a paying customer.
In other words, none of our reviews are done by a third-party or from a limited membership account.
You get a real review by real guitar players.
What We Use to Review
To review each course, we use a range of technology and guitar gear, though usually some collection of the following:
- Macbook Pro, Windows 10 PC, iPhone
- Taylor 114ce acoustic guitar
- PRS or Fender electric guitars
In the next section, I'll cover some of the criteria we've established to identify the best strumming and basic rhythm guitar lessons.
What constitutes a strumming guitar lesson?
For guitar lessons that address strumming we're looking for a parent program like Guitar Tricks or JamPlay, that rates highly overall and gives us a good price tag. This gives us a simple metric to measure value.
Other factors pertaining specifically to strumming guitar lessons include the following:
- Course should have a general emphasis on rhythm guitar concepts
- Course should cover at least a basic explanation of timing and tempo
- Course should focus on beginner-level content (at least to start)
- Course should provide plenty of demonstration and application opportunities
All of these factors have been considered to help pull together a list of great guitar lessons on strumming and rhythm concepts. Here's more information about each category.
Value or Cost VS Quality
Value is simply the cross up of a quality rating of a guitar lesson program and the monthly cost of that program.
In the following graph we've plotted an overall rating for the most popular online guitar lesson programs with their monthly price tag. This is a simple metric that helps us understand how much value you're getting for each membership.
Emphasis on Rhythm Guitar
A good strumming guitar lesson or course should, broadly, emphasize more rhythm concepts.
If you want to study strumming, you need a guitar course that also addresses things like chord structure, timing, progressions, and other rhythm guitar topics. All of these concepts work together to help make you better at strumming and teach you how to use strumming in a musical way.
Explanation of Basic Timing Concepts
Strumming is based on timing and a musical count. Good strumming lessons should explain at least the elementary principles of keeping time in music.
We look for strumming courses that explain beat and timing concepts. For example, 4/4 time and 3/4 time should be covered on the simpler end, while syncopation, 8th notes, and 16th notes are helpful for a more in-depth study on the advanced end.
Focuses on Beginner Content
Since strumming is a beginner concept, the lessons and courses that teach it should be - at least in part - tailored for the beginner skill level.
Strumming guitar lessons are almost always most effective in the context of a beginner's course. That's why all of the lessons we've recommended in this article are in the form of a beginner or intermediate course that covers more than just strumming.
Focuses on Demonstration and Application
Strumming should be demonstrated by the instructor and then applied by the student in a non-theoretical sense.
We're also looking for instruction that has a healthy dose of demonstration by the instructor and lessons that help the student apply what they have been taught. In other words, good lessons on strumming should explain, demonstrate, and then assist in application.
Other than the makeup of the courses themselves, there are factors pertaining to your situation that could inform the course or group of guitar lessons you choose. Here are the main ones to focus on:
Electric or Acoustic Guitar
You want to learn about strumming, but are you more interested in acoustic or electric guitar? How you answer this question could help you avoid courses that are more focused on one or the other.
For example: Are you wanting to focus on electric guitar?
If so, maybe Ben Lindholm's course wouldn't be a great fit, but Anders rock series would be ideal.
Your Skill Level
What is your current playing level? Are you firmly a beginner getting into strumming and rhythm concepts, or are you looking for a refresher course, perhaps with a more advanced upward climb?
Your Knowledge of Basic Chords
How well do you know basic chords?
Knowing basic guitar chords is a crucial pre-requisite for any strumming study, so if you're going in cold you might consider a course that dives into beginner chords in detail, first.
Strumming is definitely one of the more difficult concepts for a beginner guitar student to handle.
However, I believe that the lessons and courses highlighted here are some of the best and most helpful for tackling that topic in a straightforward and comprehensive way.
While it's true that rhythm is something you should feel, it's also something you can learn and educate yourself about which, in the long run, will make you a much better guitar player overall.
Questions and Comments
If you have questions about any of the courses I've listed or other online guitar lesson resources, feel free to leave me a note in the comments section below and I'll do my best to help out.
- Cicely M. Eastman, Brattleboro Reformer, Lisa McCormick's Beginner Guitar Course has Gone Global
- Staff Writers, Merriam-Webster, Syncopation Definition
- Faculty, Western Michigan University, The Elements of Music
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