Strum Techniques

Strumming with a guitar pick or plectrum

This is the most basic type of strumming on an instrument. Typically, a pick is made out of plastic, but they can be made of stainless-steel, stone, or the first small thing that you can find in the radius of your bedroom, just kidding (not really… (;). The guitar pick would be placed inbetween the fingertips of your pointer-finger and thumb on your dominant hand, although this is an personal prefrence and isn’t standard. Try “gripping” the pick just enough that it won’t slip away. Then, once in place, gently move your dominant hand up and down guitar strings as if you were rubbing your stomach.

Strumming with your fingers

Most common in classical guitar. Unlike using a plectrum, you’ll use your fingers on your dominant hand to strum, or plung, the notes. For beginners of this technique, you’d gently brush the strings with your a single finger, or your whole hand for a “dramatic” sound when playing a chord. However, it’s recommended to start only with the pointer-finger and/or thumb. A good way for utilizing both the finger and thumb is by down strumming using the thumb and upstroking the pointer-finger. Finger-style is more “free” when it comes to experimenting.

Strumming with both fingers and plectrum

Known as chicken plucking, hybrid picking, etc…, is more advanced than either of the two mentioned above, but can yield interesting strumming patterns. This style of strumming isn’t normal “strumming,” though more of standard picking. Jazz, funk, and country guitarists use this style to give an instinctive “pluck” sound when strumming, which it typically sounds like a chicken picking at food in country music. This is known as hybrid picking because you’d hold the guitar pick as you’d would if you were using a plectrum in the thumb and pointer-finger, in addition to using your free fingers to pick. Only guitar players of the bravest and pure of heart should attempt such a technique… Haha!


None of this styles are written in stone, they’re only a personal preference on how to play the guitar. Feel free to try any of these techniques to spice us that boring I-IV-V chord progression!

Cool Tip! Try breaking a song you like, or already written, by trying to figure out whether it was played using a finger-style or plectrum. And, then use a different technique to play it.