While practicing the DDUUD strumming pattern (on an acoustic guitar) with a metronome (set at 60 BPM) with 4/4 time, I'm confused on which beat should I play the up strokes. What I'm currently doing is:

  1. Down

  2. Down Up

  3. nothing

  4. Up Down

Is this correct?

  • That works. There are a number of other combinations that could also work. What is the source of this pattern? Tabs, YouTube, a lesson from a teacher, sheet music? If you are just trying stuff out there is no wrong way to play it as long as you stay in 4/4 if the song is in 4/4 and it sounds good.
    – b3ko
    Oct 18, 2018 at 11:29
  • 1
    I'm learning "A Girl Like You" by Elwyn Collins (from justinguitar.com/songs/…). Oct 18, 2018 at 11:39
  • @b3ko - I think there's only the one pattern which works best. What others are there?
    – Tim
    Oct 18, 2018 at 11:53
  • @tim 1. down 2. down up 3. up 4.down, with the ups on the and of 2 and 3, down on 4, which is maybe what they meant. but the way they have it written i was thinking they were playing up on 4 and down on 4&. now that i have had coffee that is really the only one without changing the pattern
    – b3ko
    Oct 18, 2018 at 13:18
  • Edwyn Collins surely, not Elwyn Collins? Oct 19, 2018 at 11:56

4 Answers 4


The usual strum pattern for this is downstrums are on the beat. Thus your hand goes in a downwards position on 1, 2, 3 and 4. This also means that the upstrums will come on the & so will occur on 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &.

Since you're not strumming 8 times in the bar, play the strings on 1 2 & (3) & 4. Obviously that means a ghost strum, or a downstrum which misses the strings on beat 3.

The object with most strum patterns is to keep the arm moving up and down regularly. Not jerking it in order to play a particular pattern. Which can then easily be changed by when (or not) hitting the strings.

Put another way - strum all 8 strums in the bar, and then try to miss the second, fifth and eighth strums, keeping the arm moving constantly up and down. Incidentally, you aren't doing nothing on beat 3 (I hope!),but playing nothing instead: you're moving the arm downwards ready for the next upstrum on beat 3.5!

  • Incidentally, he often puts the last strum in on the & after 4. Also, watch his arm for that regular up/down motion. Sometimes it then makes the chord change for the next bar too quick, so he (like a lot of guitarists) just does an open string upstrum. Which I discourage my students doing. It might sound not-too-bad in some keys and some songs, but to me it's amateur.
    – Tim
    Oct 18, 2018 at 12:02
  • Since I don't have a good guitar teacher around me, I used Yousician. In Yousician though, the guy suggests doing an open strum on the & after the 4th beat (like you said is amateur). Oct 18, 2018 at 12:06
  • With a bit of practice, it's quite easy to actually play the proper chord there, then a lightning change! Can't believe Yousician recommends that. Or can I?
    – Tim
    Oct 18, 2018 at 12:20
  • @tim just curious have you ever tried Yousician?
    – b3ko
    Oct 18, 2018 at 13:20
  • @b3ko - funnily enough, no! as yet. but it is on the net...
    – Tim
    Oct 18, 2018 at 16:08

It's so awkward to describe this stuff with words. Here's how this pattern, as it's usually played, should be written:

%%score T1 T2 A B
V:T1           clef=treble-8
% 1
[V:T1] vB2 vB(uB B)uB vB2

The difference between what OP describes and what is generally meant by this pattern is that in the pattern, the second "up" is on the 2nd part of the 3rd beat, whereas OP has beat 4 starting the 2nd "up". The pattern should correctly have "Down" on beat 4.

  • 4
    Given that the OP sounds like a beginner, it's probably worth describing what the notation you use means, as it's quite possible they're not familiar with it.
    – R.M.
    Oct 18, 2018 at 17:24
  • @R.M. yes. I don't really have time for writing that, though. Oct 18, 2018 at 18:09
  • Actually, I started playing a while (an year) ago, but I did not practice properly; so now I'm starting over. I don't know a lot of music notation though :P Oct 21, 2018 at 11:45

A basic 4/4 time might be DxDxDxDx i.e. a down on every beat (and "x" is silent).

If you play an up after every down, I'd write that like this: DUDUDUDU.

No matter which beats (on the down) and half-beats (on the up) you strum, the song is still in 4/4 time.

So I think of it as always playing DUDUDUDU except that sometimes you miss a strum.

I'd write (and play) the pattern you mentioned, not as DDUUD but as DxDUxUDx, if you see what I mean..


@Tim's answer is right on the money especially with the 'ghost' stroke execution description, but @leftaroundabout's notation is great for clarity.

I'm just adding a picture to explain the up/down stroke marks. Apparently these can be used as both string bowing marks and guitar stroke direction marks.

enter image description here

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