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5 Common Strumming Mistakes Holding You Back From Playing Your Favourite Songs Easily

  • Do you find strumming too difficult and frustrating?
  • Are you confused with what you should practice to make strumming easy and effortless?

Many guitar players when learning how to play guitar often struggle when trying to strum on guitar. By fixing some very simple mistakes. Strumming can feel easy, effortless. And it will make it much more enjoyable to play along to songs with other people.
We're going to look at the 5 most common strumming technique mistakes. And how you can fix them to get your strumming sounding like a pro.

1. Angle of the pick

The first challenge people have with strumming with a pick is that the pick is flat against the strings. This means that when you try to strum. There's a larger surface area of the pick that has to move through the strings. This makes it feel very difficult and harder to strum the chords.

Solution 1:
Tilt the pick so that it's at a 30º – 40º angle to the strings. This will help the pick to cut through the strings smoother.

2. Pick too deep in the strings

The second challenge people face when strumming with a pick is that the pick is too deep into the strings. Like problem 1. When you have too much of the pick in the strings, it's very hard for your pick to move easy and free through the strings. This makes your strumming hand feel very rigid and like you're 'stuck' in the strings.

Solution 2:
Make sure when you hold the pick, you don't have too much of the tip of the pick pointing out from your hand. This will help to have less of the pick in the strings. Allowing you to focus on what matters, having fun while practicing.

3. Not tapping your foot

The third challenge people face is not being able to strum in time. Whether you want to play along with songs or be able jam along with other people. Being able to play in time is crucial to your success as a guitar player.
When you tap your foot, this gives you a reference point on how fast or slow you should strum. And it will make it easier for you to lock in with the speed of the song.

Solution 3:
As you strum, tap your foot steadily to the beat of the music while you play, making sure to count “1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4...”. This will help you to develop a steady rhythm. And make it more fun to play along to your favourite songs or jam with others.

4. Not strumming from the elbow

The fourth challenge for people is that they aren't using the correct movements to strum.
Imagine a swing at a park. The metal bar the swing is attached to always stays still, even when the swing is moving back and forward. Your strumming hand should be exactly the same. The metal bar in this case is your elbow, and the swing is your forearm/picking hand.

Solution 4:

Keep your elbow still and make sure your forearm is moving back and forward like a swing. Pay close attention to make sure you do not twist your forearm as you strum.

5. Not relaxing the picking hand

The fifth challenge people face is that when they strum. Their muscles in the picking hand become very tight and tense.
Tension is the number one problem that stops people from playing guitar easier.
Imagine a bike that's covered in rust. If you try and ride that bike it's going to be very difficult to build speed and then maintain that speed. If you cleaned all the rust off of the bike, how much faster do you think you could go and how easy do you think it would be? Your strumming hand is exactly the same.

Solution 5:

When you strum, focus on keeping your picking hand relaxed.

What Should I Do Now?

You may not have all these problems.
Treat this as a list of possible problems and as you practice. Keep them in mind that any one of them could be the breakthrough you need to make your strumming easy.
If you are struggling with getting your strumming to sound good. Or you want to improve your guitar playing in general, get in contact with a good guitar teacher.

About Author: Darryl Powis of Guitar Tuition East London, providing London Electric Guitar Lessons for Kids and Adults.