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It could be a silly question. I started learning guitar 2 months ago but the progress are not going very well.

Apart from the previous problem, which I haven't solved yet, I have a problem with the basic strumming of guitar.

For example, in C major, we don't play the 6th string. When I strum upward I can't stop or I stop at the space between the 6th string and 5th string abruptly. I think there is something I am missing.

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I think things like this come with practice, try not to concentrate or focus too hard on when or where to stop, just try to play the tune you're going for. Practice makes perfectm and you will get it in time :) –  Kyle Sevenoaks Apr 18 '12 at 10:51

6 Answers 6

For me the easiest way to achieve that is to use your thumb of the left hand to mute the 6th string.

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Lots of guitarists to this, but from a classical point of view it's a rather horrible habit. –  leftaroundabout Mar 6 '12 at 11:34
    
@leftaroundabout: Classical guitarists would not have this problem as they only do finger-play. –  awe Mar 6 '12 at 11:45
    
@awe: 1. this is simply not true 2. even if you utilise "unclassical" right-hand-technique, it's still quite benefitial to play with a classically-oriented left hand, in particular if you also have your problems there as the OP seems to. –  leftaroundabout Mar 6 '12 at 11:54
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The question does not mention a classical guitar ... –  Christian Mar 6 '12 at 13:55
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I have to agree with @leftaroundabout -- regardless of the best practice of keeping your thumb centered behind the neck in classical guitar, in popular playing styles -- particularly rock, the thumb is seldom placed there and in fact is used to either mute or fret strings. If the OP is playing in a style that makes such a practice acceptable, then left-hand muting using the thumb should work just fine. On a side-note, If you play the C shape with the third finger muting the 6th string and the fourth finger fretting the C, the problem is solved. –  Steve Ross Mar 6 '12 at 17:56

It's mostly just practise. You should be able to

  • Play a downward stroke hitting exactly the right string first, in any musical context
  • Play a single upward stroke catching only the strings you want.

By "single" I mean, you should be able to do it after concentrating on that very stroke, with time to prepare for it. Both of these strokes can be practised, there's not really much to say about it. I don't find them particularly hard to perform with nails, which from you nylonstring pictures I assume is what you also do; with a pick (which I never use) it's probably a bit harder.

In a fast strumming pattern, there's not really any need for catching all the right strings with an upward stroke: the bass strings are mostly "carrier" notes in such patterns, so it's enough to hit them with each downward stroke, the actual fast rythm is mainly heard from the treble strings, so it's fine if you just concentrate on hitting all the trebles with both up- and downward strokes and maybe also the right bass strings (and when you, accidentally, slightly touch e.g. the A-string in a D-major chord, it's usually also not a big problem), which should again be quite doable, and leave the bass strings a job mainly for the downward strokes.

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+1 Indeed the low E works just fine in a C chord provided it's not the tonic. –  luser droog Mar 22 '12 at 5:25

What is more important than avoiding hitting the 6th string in the case you mention is to avoid sounding the string. As long as you don't hear the string, it doesn't really matter if you strum it or not.

The best way to avoid sounding the 6th string in a C-Maj chord is to let the tip of your 3rd finger rest against the 6th string lightly, almost as if you are pushing it sideways, but without pressure.

This same technique can be used in most cases where you want to mute a given string when strumming.

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That kind of damping is definitely a legitimate helper. Still, you should avoid hitting the 6th string too strong in down-beats, as it can create some rumbling and takes the power for hitting the 5th string. –  leftaroundabout Mar 6 '12 at 14:39
    
I generally agree, but exerting this amount of control is not practical for some strumming patterns, although in these cases the muted string should not overpower the others. –  tpburch Mar 6 '12 at 15:56

My answer here may be helpful — if you change the angle of your strum or strum along a curve, you won't need to do any stopping. For something as basic as a C chord I don't think you should need to mute anything.

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I got the hang of it! –  lamwaiman1988 Mar 7 '12 at 1:30

Work on pick-hand precision - as leftaroundabout mentioned - as well as adjusting your fret-hand fingering to help mute the strings you do not want - as tpburch mentioned. I've not seen any teacher or professional say that one or the other is the exclusive answer. It's usually a combination of both.

All that said, I'm not sure I'd stress over this too much. If you look at the transcriptions, and listen closely to the various performances, you'll see that a lot of artists far more proficient than you and I still end up hitting these "accidentals" now and again (probably not the technically correct usage of that term, but I've heard it too frequently to know of a more accurate term). It doesn't seem to hurt them too much...

I mention this because (at least for me) the more I stressed over this aspect of my strumming technique, the more I hit strings I didn't want. The less I worried about it, focusing instead on what I did want, the less I hit strings I didn't want. Where you place your focus and attention is just as important as how skillfully you can move your hands and fingers.

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+1 for Deployment of Attention. –  luser droog Mar 22 '12 at 5:30

My advice would be to just go slowly and you'll be able to strum the notes you are trying for. When you are learning it is better to develop good habits than accuracy.

It really doesn't make any difference since you are playing the high E anyway (a C chord is C, E, and G) Low (E),C,E,G,C,E high.

I think that beginners are taught use that chord form because it is an unnatural finger position and fretting the the 3 middle notes is easier.

I usually add the low G when I play a C chord (with my pinky) because it sounds a little better.

Good luck and remember that it just takes time and practice...

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