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How to Read A Strum Diagram

June 18, 2020




Strum Diagrams are a simple and effective way to visualize a strumming pattern. They’re easy to read once you know the basics. And they’re useful for learning new songs quickly.

BONUS: The Mystery of Strum Arrows on TAB Solved!

Sometimes I get students that are baffled by the arrows showing strum direction on guitar tab. At first glance it appears that the arrow is going the wrong direction… or is it?

On paper the lowest string (6th string) is the bottom of the tab lines. When you look at the tab from a musical perspective the arrow is telling you to strum from the lowest string to the highest string.  

What that looks like on your guitar is strumming physically down. Makes sense… but not very intuitive 🙁

For that reason I’ve stopped using tab for most strumming lessons (with a few exceptions). Instead I use a single line with the arrow indicating the physical direction (example below). 

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