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Right Hand Strumming Styles

Page 11 Learning the Folk Guitar

The basic thumb / brush stroke is the easiest of all strumming patterns. It involves simply brushing downward on the strings with the thumb of the right hand in a smooth steady rhythm. This strumming pattern is the easiest pattern to master and forms the basis for more complex right hand patterns.

Learning the basic thumb / brush stroke provides a firm foundation on which to build solid right hand technique and will make learning correct timing easier.

The Basic Thumb / Brush Stroke


Listen   "Basic Thumb Brush Stroke"

The Brush Stroke

The Brush Stroke

Sweep downward across the strings using the back (fingernails) of the right hand. You may use three fingers, or just the fingernail of the index finger.

You can also play the accented first beat using your thumb then play the remaining beats with the back of the fingers Brush stroke.

In 3/4 time play the accented beat on beat 1, then brush down on beats 2 and 3


In 2/4 and 4/4 times alternate right hand strokes with each beat.


With practice, this combination of right hand patterns will feel natural.

You may notice that it will feel more comfortable to not brush completely across all the strings with your thumb. In most cases this pattern is acceptable. However, you must maintain a steady right hand rhythm.

Correct Timing

Page 11 Learning the Folk Guitar

Interacting with other musicians is one of the great joys of playing a musical instrument. However, without a good sense of correct timing you will find it difficult to perform in a group.

Tap your right foot on the floor in a slow steady manner. Each time your foot hits the floor is one beat. While tapping your foot on the floor for each beat, count out four beats:

1 - 2- 3- 4,

This is the downbeat. Now, transfer this action to the right hand strum brush stroke.

The Downbeat

Correct timing is essential to proper playing. Always start each song by tapping your foot and counting out the downbeat. Playing at a slow, even tempo will make the chord changes easier.

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Learning the Folk Guitar

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