Learn Acoustic Guitar


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We have a series of guitar lessons and video tutorials to help you improve your playing in no time. Check also our links because they will take to some of our other guitar tutorials.
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Learn Acoustic Guitar Strumming

Often in my experience of teaching I encounter a range of students from all walks of life, all of whom have different abilities, and all with different amounts of time to practice; usually due to the lifestyle they lead. When I ask them exactly why they want to learn the acoustic guitar the usual response is “I want to be able to play my favorite songs” some of the more creative would say “I want to be able to write songs”. The thing that ties these two types of player together is the importance of one of the most underestimate parts of playing the guitar, strumming.

If I asked you to strum the following on muted strings I am confident that (once you hear it) it wouldn’t pose too much of a problem for you.
The problem would come when I asked you to sing something to me over the top, or even something simple like describe what you’re having for dinner. What I would expect is that the rhythm you are playing would suddenly fall out of time, or the words you speak would be at the rhythm you play.
Playing a simple song like “Knocking on Heavens Door” requires you to play the guitar and sing the melody. If you want to do this you need to refine your strumming technique. Take a look at your favorite guitar playing singer on YouTube, you will quickly notice that when they play their strumming hand moves up and down consistently right? This motion is actually helping to keep them in time but is doing so in a way that it no longer requires them to pay attention to it, leaving them free to sing the word they write.
The first exercise in this guitar instruction is to learn the difference between down strokes and upstrokes. I remember when I was learning I was confuse by the upstroke being a downward arrow, now I know and can pass on that this comes from violin notation. Leading with the heel (square end) is a down stroke, and with the tip (pointed) is an upstroke.

From here you need to get used to playing to a metronome, so set up a click at between 60-80bpm and count “1 - 2 - 3 - 4” and on each number place a downward strum.

The next step is to notice that in order to perform two downstrokes the pick needs to move back up to its original position; if we were to place an upstroke there we would get the following.

As with any instrument, if you want to learn the acoustic guitar you will need to practice a great deal, so take some time to look over the following patterns and pay attention to the strumming indicated. Play them very slowly and count out loud as you do.