Hey there,

I'm a real beginner and I'm going through a book Collins Need To Know? Guitar which came with a CD with tracks on how to play a certain song, and then just the backing track so you play along.

The problem is, I've come to a chapter devoted to to strumming patterns and general strumming. As I said I'm a beginner so I don't know if I'll do this right but the strumming pattern looks like this:

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
/ / / / / /

All the counting numbers are down strums and the "ands" are up.

The song goes like this in the beginning:

|| D / G / | D / / / |

Well, I hope you can make that out. Flame me if I'm making a fool of myself.

Anyway, now how the hell do I apply the strumming pattern to those chords? The first chord is D, so do I apply the first count in the pattern to it, then I skip a strum, then change my fretting hand to G and strum down with G, then up with G, then down with D? Is that how it works?

I explained it the best I could, hope you understand. It's basically just strumming the pattern with your right hand the whole time, while your left hand just has to change to whatever chord? Thats how I see it, but I'm not sure.

EDIT: Here's the strumming pattern etc with the correct spaces, they get taken away for some reason when I post it.

Last edited by yorkey at Jul 2, 2009,
With your fretting hand, make the shape of the D chord, then with your strumming hand, a go 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &. Down on the numbers, up on the offbeats (&. That rhythm is even eighth notes. Then, when you get to the G, switch your fretting hand to the G shape but keep your arm going at the same pace. So, with practice, you should be able to switch from D to G without having to break the rhythm. Post again if you don't get that
3rd post, a good exercise to help when those rhythms get more complicated than up down up down up down... is to get some pens or rulers or something to act as drum sticks (I guess bare hands is good enough), and you try and keep different rhythms going with both hands and feet. Like a drummer. It improves your coordination rhythm whatever you call it.
Thanks for the quick reply.
It's "We Shall Overcome" pg 46, if that helps at all. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_Shall_Overcome

I don't strum on two of the offbeats, the 1st and 3rd offbeat.
To explain better I took a photo of the song as its given in the book.

Do I start with the pattern with D, with a down strum, skip the offbeat, form G on my fretting hand and strum down, then still with G strum up. Then back with D I strum down, skip the offbeat, strum down then up? AHhhh the answer is either right in front of me or I'm really stupid.
The long straight lines mark the end of each 'bar' or 'measure'. Your beat of 1 2 3 4 or 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & fits into a bar. You strum on the beat with the chord name, and on each 'slash', so from looking at that song you are strumming on the beat for the whole song - which would have you strumming on every down stroke. Does that make sense?

For your original example:
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
/   / / /   / /
you'd strum
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
/   / / /   / /
D   D U D   D U
Keep your hand moving in a regular D U D U rhythm though, and only hit the strings on the marked beats.

If you want to see how to get your examples to line up, quote my post and it should show you
Thanks for your patience, your replies have helped. I know how it must feel to explain something basic to a noob like me. :P

But I still don't get where these two fit in together. For the first bar: D / G / I don't know where to apply the strumming pattern. It seems I don't complete the whole pattern on the D chord, then switch to G chord and then do the pattern again?

Ok wait, I think I got it now. It's something like this, right?

What do the '/' mean next to the chord names though? It just shows where I should strum?
The way the song is written, it doesn't look like your initial strumming pattern applies to it. The '/' next to the chord name means to strum, plus you'd strum on the chord name itself - so you'd be strumming
1 2 3 4 | 1 2 3 4 | 1 2 3 4 | 1 2 3 4 | etc
D D G G | D D D D | D D G G | D D D D |
If you want to apply the other strumming pattern to it, you'd get
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & | 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & | 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & | 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & | etc
D   D D G   G G | D   D D D   D D | D   D D G   G G | D   D D D   D D |
Uhm, last question I promise! Any one strumming pattern always "fits" into one bar?
Quote by yorkey
Uhm, last question I promise! Any one strumming pattern always "fits" into one bar?
Not necessarily, but as yours is notated 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & that implies it fits into a single bar of 4 quarter beats. If they wanted you to play it over two bars they would most likely have illustrated it using
1 2 3 4 | 1 2 3 4 |
/   / / | /   / / |
which is the same rhythm, but spread over 2 bars.