can anybody help how to identify strumming when to play down and up? When I hear a song and then play it I never know when to strum down and up, how many times etc. I just cannot hear it. I spend hours trying different ways and only confuse myself. Any tips/ideas what to do?

  • I suggest to edit the question and add the following details: 1. Is the question about guitar or another instrument? 2. Do you ask about strumming with fingers or a pick? Commented Aug 7, 2023 at 3:03

2 Answers 2


The basic strum pattern derives from strumming down on the 4 beats of a (4/4) bar, with the upstrums on the half beats in between. Those have to happen, otherwise, your hand is still in the underneath position! There are times when the down strums are missed, but need to be made off the strings, similarly with the upstrums. So consider a bar of 4/4, there will be 8 strums, 4 down and 4 up, but some will be 'ghost' strums when the strings are not strummed at all, but the hand needs to be shifted to the optimum position for the remainder of the bar.

There are occasions where everything is doubled up, with 8 down (and obviously 8 up strums), and it's very unusual for every movement to produce a sound - hence ghost strums. Very occasionally, everything is inverted, to produce a more pronounced 'offbeat', maybe in reggae, for example.


To piggyback on the previous answer, and also speaking from playing mandolin, there are different patterns for up and down strumming. For example, there is the Bach-type of strumming, which can go 1D-2D-3D-4D-5D-6U. Just based on what I have seen so far, it is one factor you can use in determining how you want to interpret a particular piece.

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