The bass note strum is a very common strumming pattern, especially for country and folk music. In this guitar lesson, I'll show you how this is not just a strum pattern, but a technique that will improve all your strumming. Let's do this.
One of the problems guitar players have when learning to strum is hitting the correct strings for each chord. One way to get better at this is by hitting the bass of the chord and then strumming it, which is the pattern we’re going to use today. Let’s call it the bass note strum pattern.
This strum pattern you will double as a technique to practice finding the bass note of your chords quickly and easily. After practicing this for just a bit you’ll find that your right hand goes to the correct place automatically.
We’ll start with a G chord. We’ll hit the bass note on the sixth string and then strum. The basic pattern is bass, strum, bass, strum. For a D chord, it’s the same principle, but with the bass note on the fourth string.
Easy Bass Note Strum in 4/4
A large portion of popular songs are in 4/4 time, which means four beats per measure. We’ll hit the bass on the first and third beat, and strumming the chord on the second and fourth beats.
Now that you understand the basic pattern, you can start practicing with chords. Preferably, it will be with chords that are used often. The best way to do this is by using chords in keys that are common for guitar players.
Easy Bass Note Strum in E
Let’s start out with the key of E. We’re going to use the three most common chords on the key of E: these are E, D, B7. We’re going to practice the bass strum with each of these chords and then how to go from one chord to the other. For the E chord, the bass note is the sixth string, for the A the fifth string is the bass note and for the B7 it is also the fifth string. You can play that B7 with four fingers or choose to leave out the pinky.
Now try playing that progression with the bass strum smoothly and without stopping. Once you have that down you can try to play a song. For instance, “Leaving on a Jet Plane” uses these chords in the chorus. There are many more songs with these chords.
Easy Bass Strum in 3/4
Although most songs are in 4/4 time signature, some are in 3/4. This time signature has three beats, and the bass plays on beat one, while beat two and three are strums. In other words, the pattern is bass, strum, strum. This strum, along with the previous one, will cover about 90 % of the popular songs out there.
For this time signature we’re going to try another common key for guitar: the key of G. The chords are G, C, and D. The bass note of the G chord is on the sixth string, the bass note of the C chord on the fifth string and for the D chord the bass is on D. Practice playing this strum by changing chords slowly. Then try a song. For instance, “Amazing Grace” features this exact time signature and chords in the key of G.
If you’d like to take this further, go through each of the five common guitar keys, one key at a time. I would suggest beginning with the key of G if you’re just starting out on guitar. If you’d like to learn more about the common keys of guitar, I made a video just for you.