Down strums can be extremely boring, or they can really add some nice flavor to your playing. You can be very rhythmic with down strums. In this lesson, Brian goes over some basic down strumming patterns as well as how to be dynamic with down strums.
Typically, you’ll want to down strum on either 8th notes or 16th notes (depending on the song and tempo). For this lesson, we’re focussed mainly on 8th notes. To count them out, count like this:
1 – and – 2 – and – 3 – and – 4 – and, …
The down-beats are the 1-2-3-4, and the up-beats are the ‘ands’. These make up the 8th notes (notice there are 8 of these beats in a measure, hence 8th notes).
The basic down strumming pattern would look like this:
1 2 3 4 ,... d d d d d d d d ,...
This will sound pretty boring, which brings us to how we emphasize different beats.
Very your emphasis
The easiest way to make down strum patterns sound more musical is to emphasize different beats (and/or not play certain down strums). But, how do you know which beats to emphasize?
Listen to your drummer! 🙂
Acoustic guitar is a melodic instrument, but it’s also very much a rhythmic instrument. The beat that your drummer plays should dictate your strumming pattern. You want to be in sync, not fighting each other. The easiest way to know what to emphasize is listen for the snare. When the snare hits, play harder. Typically, most basic modern worship and rock music has a drum beat that goes a bit like this:
1 2 3 4 ,... kick snare kick snare ,...
Notice that the snare comes in on beats 2 and 4. So, your strumming pattern would be:
1 2 3 4 ,... d d D d d d D d ,...
Always be listening to the beat of the drums. After some practice (and playing in bands with different drummers), you’ll begin to easily feel the beat and create strumming patterns that fit.