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Regardless of the style of music you intend to play on the guitar strumming, is the backbone to playing all kinds of tunes.

Having a good grasp of the basic guitar stroke technique will allow you to learn guitar in record speed and will save you from the endless hours of trying to guess your way to playing your favourite songs on your own, without a clue.

One of the best ways to get started in by using a guitar manual or songbook with chord symbols and use these techniques with different chords and songs. It’s more fun to practice if you’re playing “real” music at the same time, and there are now jam along type tracks and software that you can buy online.

There are two different types of stroke, the down stroke and the down-upstroke. Let’s take a look at each and how they are done:

The Guitar Down Stroke

Sit in a comfortable position and rest the guitar on your right knee. Now, relax your hands.

Next, place your right hand over the body of the guitar, with your thumb slightly touching the lowest (low E) string.

Place your finger on the easy G chord with your left hand: Press your index finger down on the third fret of the top (high E) string. This will give you a “real” chord to play.

Now for the stroke. Stroke with your right thumb from the fourth (D) string down across the strings, almost as if you’re sweeping dust from the strings.

To keep the timing right, start counting 1-2-3-4 with each stroke with emphasis on the each time you say “1”. This will allow you to keep a basic 4/4 rhythm whilst strumming, which is the same rhythm used by many song structures.

The Guitar Down-Upstroke

Now, on the same chord, stroke down across the strings. Stroke back against the strings, from the smallest to the largest. The down-up strum goes like this: Down-1, down up-2, down up-3, down up-4 (in 4/4 time). So every time you strum down, you bring your fingers back upwards to sweep the strings the other way.

This will take some practice at first, but you’ll find that once you master the rhythm and hit all the strings of the chord, you’ll be able to play much faster and cleanly each time.

Don’t rush, as you will just make more mistakes and be frustrated by your attempts to learn.

Learning guitar can get pretty boring with traditional drills and routines. This is why so many beginner guitarists either give up or guess their way to developing their skills. If you’d like to really master the basics in the quickest possible time, without getting bored or frustrated (and actually see what you’re supposed to be doing when playing along), then you should check out this book: