Dad, Where Do Strum Patterns Come From?

Well, when a guitarist and a drummer really love each other...

One thing some guitarists really struggle with is finding an appropriate strum pattern for a given song.  The songs on Worship Artistry feature over 100 different patterns so it can be intimidating when you have to start from scratch.  Here are the two things you need to know to create your own strum patterns.

Strum speed

We know that our arm should always be moving whether we’re strumming the strings or not, so our first step is to figure out whether our song needs an 8th or 16th note pattern.  Essentially, are you strumming down on “1” and up on “+” like this:

Or are you strumming down on “1” and  the “+” and up on the “e” and “a” like this:

If you're not sure which to go with, try them both over a recording of the song.  Don't worry about a pattern, just mute your strings and try the 8th note down strums and see it that works.  If not, move to the 16th strum.  One will feel more comfortable than the other.  Once you know how fast your arm should be moving, you can go about finding a pattern.

Use your ears

You can do an 8th note downstrum for just about any song but it's not always the best choice.  To really make a song sing, tracking with the drum beat is the best option.  Listen to your kick and snare.  Where are the beats emphasized?  You can match this in your strum pattern by either strumming louder on the hits or skipping the strings when the drums are leaving space.


Finding strum patterns takes a lot of practice so the best way to learn it is to do it.  I've include some lessons below that really showcase a strum pattern that locks in with the beat.  Start with "Oceans" to get the 8th note feel and then "Not For A Moment" to get the 16th feel.  After that, take on the more complicated patterns and listen to the drums as you play them.  Your ear will develop and you'll be creating your own parts in no time.  

Jason Houtsma serves as Worship Pastor for Mosaic Church in Bellingham, WA, Husband to Alli, Father to Bjorn and Asher, and guitar instructor for

Dad, Where Do Strum Patterns Come From?

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Where do strum patterns come from?

Well, when a guitar player and a drummer really love each other....magic happens.