B   D   B   D
Strum:  1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

This is a diagram of the strum pattern we’ll use for “Can the Circle Be Unbroken.” The “B” stands for “bass,” and the pattern sounds like this: “Bass, down, bass, down…” Now usually, bass means that you just hit the bass note in whatever chord you’re playing, but since this is a lesson for total beginners, I don’t want to trouble you with this task, because this is really something you should be working on a few months down the road. So for now, “bass” means just strum the 6th, 5th, and 4th strings of the guitar, and strum them a little bit more quietly than you do the full downstrums.

I’ll show you how to do that more in a second, but let me just start out by playing the pattern for you a few times. You may be able to learn it just by groovifying--just watch me play and try to pick up on the groove. Here we go.

If that worked for you, and you were able to get your bass strums significantly quieter than your full downstrums, then great. Just practice that pattern about 30 more times so that you build some muscle memory, and then move on to the next lesson.

If that didn’t work for you, it’s probably because you’re an analyzer, not a groovifier. You want things broken down and spelled out. So let’s take a closer look at how that bass strum works.

The basic idea here is that we’re alternating between quiet strumming and loud strumming. There are two ways we make that bass strum quiet. The first technique we use is to only hit the 6th, 5th, and 4th strings. Less strings ringing means less sound. So take a moment to pause the video and practice just strumming the 6th, 5th and 4th strings. If you occasionally miss the 4th string or hit the 3rd string too, no big deal. Just try to get a consistent sound from these bass strums.

[pause screen]

The other technique we’re using to make the bass strum quieter is to grip the pick more lightly. This is is going to result in some airborne picks until you get used to it, and you’ll notice that even pro’s often tape about five backups to their mic stand, so if you drop your pick doing this, you can be assured you’re in good company. Take a moment to get used to strumming your bass strings using a light grip now. This is what it should sound like.

[pause screen]

Now let’s practice the strumming pattern slowly. You’re really working on two skills at the same time here, so if you want to just focus on hitting the 6th, 5th, and 4th strings now and forget about the lighter grip, wonderful. Once you get one skill down, add the other to the mix.

Feel free to rewind and practice that some more, or pause the video and play on your own. Once that becomes easy, try playing faster.

Keep practicing this pattern until it becomes easy, at least strum it about 30 times to build some muscle memory, then move on my next lesson on making chord transitions smooth while strumming.

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