#1
New to guitar, I've been playing for about 2 months now. I need help pretty badly.

I have all the chords down and even know a few songs pretty well. However, one thing I suck at is figuring out strumming patterns. I learned all the chords for this Black Sun by Death Cab for Cutie (specifically this acoustic version) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hENqtlk0HM&feature=youtu.be, but I can't figure out the damn strumming pattern!! Nothing sounds right and it's really frustrating.

I always fall back on D D U U D U but that doesnt sound right for every song. Can someone please help? Nothing sounds right when I play it with that.

I'd really appreciate someone telling me a more detailed strumming pattern that sounds right for that song, but also some information on how to listen to the song and watch them play and figure out strumming patterns in general, because there are a few other songs that just dont sound right because I'm using the wrong patterns! Thank you!
#2
The thing is you're now getting towards learning songs that don't have a simple down-up style strumming pattern. This song is more complex than that, and while I know what I'm doing I actually don't know that I can properly articulate what you need to do.

Basically you need to go beyond thinking simply in strumming patterns; the guy in that video is using different groups of strings to accent different beats, he's using picking hand dynamics to further that. You're going to need to elevate yourself beyond simple down-up thinking to get this song sounding right.
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#3
It roughly sounds like DDD DUD DUD, but it changes here and there like Zaphod said. I'm pretty bad at picking them up too so probably don't take my word for it. One thing I've found to help me recently is to keep that arm swinging even if you aren't strumming. I have a tendency to use my wrist more than my arm and I find my rhythm is rather crap when I do that.

Note: you can slow Youtube videos down using the settings icon (choose 0.5 or 0.25 - though 0.25 has no sound). It can help me figure things out.
#5
Hi Penzy

Before I get into any details, let me say that one of the most understudied aspects of learning to play a guitar IS THE STUDY OF RHYTHM!- I'm not even refering to RHYTHM GUITAR specifically. Just the study of RHYTHM. This is the study of recognizing the PULSE in music and developing the skills to manipulate that pulse by basically chopping it into smaller time units (or building larger time units). If someone learns to READ MUSIC the whole code for rhythm is actually built into the reading. But, I dare say, most guitarists DO NOT READ MUSIC so rhythm does tend to remain elusive-so you're not alone PENZY.

Accepting that most guitarists don't read music, the challenge is actually to help them develop RHYTHM AWARENESS. With this skill in place, your challenge to figure out a "strumming pattern" (I hate the term by the way. I prefer strumming solution) becomes much easier. While learning RHYTHM AWARENESS can be done using actual tunes, it's actually better to study it away from tunes at the beginning. This is because students are often sooo eager to learn a familiar tune that concentrating on rhythm is virtually gone.

RHYTHM AWARENESS, STRUMMING, TIMING are all actually very BIG musical skills and in the guitar world almost always left to chance- you either get it or you don't. I don't believe this. PENZY, the strumming issues you face are completely "learnable" and it's really good that you are sticking with it.

RHYTHM TRAINING really does need to be learned seperate from the songs you love- at least for a while. The beauty of this approach is that once you "get it" you simply apply it to every song you ever want to learn- as opposed to the few "strum patterns" you may have aquired and try to apply them to songs where they just don't work.

PS. The reason I like the term STRUMMING SOLUTION (rather than strumming pattern) is that much of good strumming almost never adheres to a single strum pattern throughout the entire tune. The guitarist is actually making constant but slight changes to their strumming activity so that the "strumming solution" at any one point in the tune is more a reflection of the musicians emotion, interest, what he/she hears around them. In other words, a good strumming solution is really "in the moment" rather than some CANNED strumming pattern applied throughout the entire tune.

Here's some FREE training to get you thinking about this stuff:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwI6lacqUtE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uqlkcmppSA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFfg60XbdGI

Stephen
www.dempsterguitarstudio.com
Last edited by esumguitar at Aug 30, 2015,