I find a lot of music with only chords:


They don't tell me the pattern I should strum. How can I know when to strum up or strum down?


2 Answers 2


For this, you can either go by ear by listening to the recorded song, or by feel (i.e. how do you WANT to play it?). As far as up and down strumming, a general rule of thumb is that - regardless of the actual strumming pattern - you should maintain a steady up/down rhythm. Then you will simply hit the strings when you want sound and not hit them when you don't.

For most basic strumming patterns, consider down-strumming every quarter note and up-strumming on the eighth notes in-between.

  • So, there is no strumming patterns or rules to follow, everybody can play the same song with different strumming patterns?
    – Ted Wong
    Commented Feb 18, 2012 at 7:06
  • That really depends on whether you want to strictly play the song as recorded/written or with your own style. There are never strict rules to follow, although the character of your interpretation of the song will be (partially) a reflection of your strumming pattern, rhythm, tempo, volume, etc.
    – tpburch
    Commented Feb 18, 2012 at 18:41

Such basic chord sheets assume you are somewhat familiar with the song. Best is simply to try to play along with the recorded tune...start using simple downstrokes on the beat and then make it more interesting.

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