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How to Strum a Guitar With Your Fingers

Have you been trying to strum with your fingers but haven't been able to get it to sound quite right? Then you will benefit a lot from this lesson, as I will go over all of the basic techniques to get you started.

As opposed to using a pick, when you strum with your fingers you are able to manipulate the strings more to get different sounds. This depends on whether you are hitting the strings with the fleshy part of your fingers, thumb, or your nail. 

In this lesson you’ll learn the most common techniques that you can integrate into your playing right away.

At the end I’ll show you some advanced techniques that you may want to try out to extend your finger strumming pallet even farther.

Most Used Finger Strumming Techniques

Strum #1:  Thumb Only

In this first technique, you will use your thumb without your nail to move up and down. This strum makes a soft, even sound. I like this strum when I am playing acoustic guitar, and I want to sing along. My singing isn't strong, and this guitar strum makes the guitar a little quieter so I can overshadow it with my voice. This might not be an issue if you are a strong singer.

Strum #2:  Fingers Only

For the second strum technique, we are going to use our fingers. You will strum down with your nail and strum up with the inside fleshy part of the fingers. Your arm is not moving up and down. All of the motion is coming from my hand opening and closing. This strum technique works great with the steel-string guitar.

Strum #3:  Thumb and fingers - Version 1

Technique number three is the one that I use most often because it is the most versatile. You will strum down using the nails of your fingers and strum up using the nail of your thumb. You will use your elbow in this strumming technique, but it is only a small, concise movement.

Strum #4:  Thumb and fingers - Version 2

Finally, we get to technique number four. You will use your fingers as we did in technique number three, but you will start with the thumb. The thumb will hit either a single bass note or the bass strings in general. This gives it a galloping sound that is distinctly different than another of the previous three strums.

Bonus: More Advanced Finger Strumming Techniques

Mute Strum

The mute strum is very common and popular. I'm doing a basic technique of going down with my fingernails and then up with my thumb. This time I'm adding a mute. That mute is me muting the strings with my right palm at the same time that I open my hand.

Bass Strum Technique

For the second bonus technique, we are going to add some bass notes to our strum. We're using the thumb/finger version of the strum but adding bass notes using the thumb. It can be a little tricky because you have to get your thumb in there to make the bass note then the fingers are strumming the chord.

Rasgueado - Spanish Sound

This strum technique uses three fingers. I'm doing one finger at a time, starting with my third finger, and I'm flicking them out against the strings. Separate your fingers enough where you can head a rasgueado. Part of the trick with this strum is to get your fingers tucked up into your palm and flick them out, brushing out on each of the fingers one at a time.

Rumba Flamenco Strum

The final bonus strumming technique is another common Spanish sound strum. I'm going down with my fingers, up with my thumb, down again with my fingers, and flatting out and muting the strings.

I’ve created the entire lesson on the Rumba Flamenco Strum. If this is something you’d like to learn more about check this out:

Rumba Flamenco Guitar Strumming

Part 1:

Part 2:

What’s your experience like strumming the guitar with your fingers? Leave a comment below and let me know.

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How to Strum Without a Pick
Strum a Guitar With Your Fingers

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