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How to Play The Bass Strum Pattern

One of the easiest ways to spice up a chord progression is to use a bass note strum. As the name will tell you, it’s a strum that emphasizes the bass note of the chord. This is used all the time in Country, Bluegrass, and Folk. It even makes its way into Rock genres from time to time.

There are a couple reasons I like to teach this. The first is that you learn more picking precision. By “interrupting” your strumming to play just a single note you’re forced to develop more accuracy. 

The second reason is that, in order to play the bass note of a chord, you have to know what the bass note of that chord is. This not only helps you memorize the fretboard. It also starts to teach you a little bit of music theory. 

How To Play The Bass Note Strum

Think about a standard measure of four beats (counted as “one-two-three-four, one-two-three-four”). Now strum a G chord four times, once per beat. 

Then instead of strumming the full chord on the first and third beat, just hit the lowest note of the chord. This should be the 3rd fret of the 6th string. 

What you have is a bass note-strum-bass note-strum pattern. 

Try it on an Em chord. The bass note is the open 6th string. Play that bass note, then strum. Play the bass note, then strum. 

If you replace counting the measure with the pattern, you’d go from:




Bass Note-Strum-Bass Note-Strum

Check out 0:44 in the video to hear a full demo of this. 

Note: You don’t have to use only downbeats with this pattern. You can use upbeats too once you have the simple version down. Just make sure you play the bass note on the 1 and the 3.

Guitar Strumming Exercise

Here's the chords for the exercise I describe in the video. You can use this to practice this strum pattern while at the same time practicing a very common and useful chord progression.

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