November 17

Strumming With Your Thumb and Index Finger

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When I first started playing guitar I never imagined I'd be one of those players using my fingers to strum. I was brought up in the Pop Rock genre where most everyone played their guitars with a pick. But these days my favorite way to play guitar is with my thumb and index finger. When you do it right you get something that sounds clear and crisp, not dull and muddy.

Strumming With Your Thumb And Index Finger

The trick is to not just strum with the flesh part of the thumb or the flesh part of the fingers. Using the flesh parts isn't wrong, it just soft and less useful compared to the version I'm going to show you. 

  • For the down strum you're going to use the side and top of the nail of your index finger. You can almost pretend you're holding a pick to do this. Bring your thumb and index finger together and strum down. 
  • For the up strum you'll reverse the motion and use the outside and nail of your thumb. Compared to using the flesh parts of your fingers this sound much clearer and crisper.

Try this with a G chord. Bring your fingers together and strum down, then back up. Use the same motion as you would if you had a pick. It will sound similar, but just different enough to be its own thing. As with everything it will take practice to get it down. The great thing about this version is you don't have to worry about snagging strings with your thumb like the thumb only strum!

Spend some time with this. When you're strumming through chords in your practice session, try replacing half of your time with this technique. After a few days it will start to feel natural. One great thing about this is that you can always play a guitar, even if you don't have a pick. 


Thanks for joining me today! If you liked this lesson, share it with a friend who might enjoy this technique!

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