Ok I am not sure how close or far off I am here and IF I am explaining this correctly... When reading sheet music is strumming a down stroke a single note line, and a UD strum when you see both notes attached? I can figure out IF in 4/8/16's BUT cannot quite catch onto the strum patters used, IF I could figure it out in sheet music I can of course figure the pattern out.

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  • Basically I am semi struggling on "I Won't Back down", in 16's, the E is 4 beats, the D is 3 and the G/C are 9 beats.... I'd assume it was DUDU (E) - DDU (D) - DUDUDUDUD (G/C depending which part of the song...) ... Just doesn't sound right and it's at 114bpm.. Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 17:28

1 Answer 1


The rhythm shown is a fairly commonly used one, and often takes a bit of getting into.

Simple way to consider most strum patterns in 4/4 is that the 4 main beats (1,2,3,4) are downstrums. This of course means that the hand needs to go in the opposite direction in between, for the '&' part. You could strum all 8 down/up strums, and that would fill each bar.

Taking this principle, you're actually missing the strings on some of the movements down or up. 1 (&) 2 & (3) & 4 (&).

  • I get down and up strokes when coming to down on 1,2,3,4 and up on the &'s, simple there for 8 patterns, I also get the "1 e & a" on 16ths, I can easily strum them to basic patterns and switching out on counts. Where I struggle is picking up always hearing a pattern like Petty's I Won't Back down, where he switches up his strum patter, the E is different than the D (only 3 strokes DDU), Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 20:05
  • it SOUNDS like when he switches to the G he is upstroking the chord but when I do it up or down it just doesn't quite seem right... The figure I attached was not the song I am looking to play, just wondering IF I got the concept of the theory right on IF I am understanding the diagram correctly, IF SO I can find the sheet music for the song I want and figure out on my own the pattern I am slighting missing on the G/C chords Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 20:05
  • Right now, it sounds like a standard 8 in the bar, with nothing syncopated, and the rhythm in question isn't relevant.
    – Tim
    Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 21:10
  • I figured it out, definitely 16th, when coming off the dsus2 or D (Can be played either I guess), it's DDU switch to the G or C depending which bar you're on with an Up, BUT NO hesitations on the switch like he does when going to the E and D chords. That slight pause on the first two switches throws it off on the 3rd switch, no pause, sounds perfect. Thanks though for trying to help! I went to YouTube and found Marty Music doing a tutorial on it, slowed it to .5 speed and watched how he did it... What I was missing Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 15:11
  • @BruceNadeau - Whatever the song, strum patterns generally involve the strum hand going down, up, down, up, sometimes catching strings, sometimes missing, but the relentless down up takes precedence. Not keen on Marty - there's lots of open string strumming between chords; sloppy playing, but kind of gets away with it in keys like G, with lots of open strings anyway. I stopped watching his videos after he stated that the U.S. national anthem was in Lydian mode! - It certainly isn't!
    – Tim
    Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 10:11

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