Most people begin their guitar playing by learning to strum and sing. It is also the case that people often begin their “playing in a band” experience by playing rhythm guitar.

Strumming is easier than playing lead guitar, however, it is often under valued because to be very good rhythm guitarist is a lot more difficult than many realise – to be a poor rhythm guitarist is of course quite easy!

So what is the best way to learn to strum and what makes a really good rhythm guitarist?

Learning to strum
There are basically two rhythms:
The straight and the swing (sometimes called a shuffle rhythm).

It is surprisingly difficult to learn both “feels” at the same time so it is probably best to get used to one first. The video below shows how to play the straight rhythm and the importance of using rests or gaps in the patterns to create interest.

Examples of songs in a straight rhythm are Born To Be Wild, Ticket To Ride, Layla and Sultans of Swing to name but a few!

Examples of songs in a shuffle rhythm are: He’s Got The Whole World, Yellow Submarine, That’ll Be The Day and just about every 12 Bar Blues song.

The important rule is to play a down strum on the main beats and to strum upwards in between.