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How to strum guitar with fingers

Young student learning how to strum guitar with fingersHere’s the thing: learning how to strum guitar with fingers can be a valuable and a fun technique to learn. Yes, a pick can be useful, but the flexibility that you get with your fingers allows you to play around with a variety of sounds.

In this lesson, you not only will learn finger strumming, you’ll also get a variety of tricks and methods to maximize the chords you can play after learning how to play guitar without a pick.

At the end of the tutorial, you will also learn the practical ways that professionals use to sort of cheat their way to making their guitar strumming sound rich and complex.


Most Commonly Used Finger Strum Techniques

Strum 1: The Thumb Technique

Young man holding a guitar and playing musicIf you strum a guitar without a pick, a good method to pull through that is via the thumb method. It’s actually the most common.

To do this, simply use the thumb minus your nail and strum the string up and down. If you want a soft folk sound, then the thumb method will fit the mold.

The thumb strum is ideal when you want a subtle sound in your playing. The more subtle you want it to be, the more you’d want to put emphasis on your thumb, especially on the up strums.

There’s a big difference when you use your fingers on the down strum compared to just sticking to your thumb.

Strum 2: The Fingers Technique

To achieve a proper way to strum a guitar using the fingers technique, the nail will be the center. Using the nails, strum up with the inside part of your fingers.

Strum 3: Fingers and Thumb

Strumming guitar with fingers and thumb requires you to use the nails of your fingers by strumming up using the nail in your thumb. Another version of this requires you to strum down using your finger nails but the strum up should be through the flesh of the thumb.

A good combination, too, is when you use your first finger for the rhythm and the thumb for the melody. This kind of combination gives you a richer sound that’s almost similar to a ukulele.

¬†Strum 4: The Whole “Clawhammer” Hand Technique

When you want the rhythm and volume more pronounced in your sound, try the whole hand technique. You do this by strumming down on the bass strings and by picking a bass note.

Alternate this technique by changing your two or three fingers, curled like a claw, and strumming the strings with the fingernails.

Strum 5: Palm Muting Technique

Male musician playing bass guitar and showing how to improve your palm mutingThis is just a simple way of strumming your hand to produce a deep sound. To do this, you simply need to strum the strings by hitting them with your palm, too.

The more forceful you can hit the strings, the depper you can create a deeper sound.

Strum 6: The Brush Strum

This method requires you to strum your first finger in a sort of brush stroke. When you do this, be sure to keep your hand relaxed and the glide should be as smooth as you can without softening the volume.

You may mix with this strum the use of your index finger, but that may affect the accenting power of your strum. If you’re playing a faster sound, then that’s where the index finger comes in.

Tips and Things to Consider When Hand Strumming Guitar

Make small moves: The first proper strumming technique you should remember, which is something that professionals usually use, is to make the movements of your fingers subtle. You’d be surprised how rich your sound would still be even with the slightest finger movements.

Combine arm and wrist: You should be able to use both wrist and arm when learning to strum a guitar without a pick as that’s the only way to play complex rhythms.

The beautiful woman in a cowboy's hat and acoustic guitarFocus on the wrist: It makes sense to master the focus of your strumming in your wrist since it’s where the gyration of the fingers is sourced from.
A trick that professionals use is to keep the elbow positioned tightly into the instrument, and get the strumming moving from the wrist.

Learn the basic chords: You should be able to master your strumming vs picking skills just by practicing. You can only reach such mastery when you play as many and practice as much chords every day. Play as many musical chords or cover music using the basic finger strumming above and before you know it, strumming with fingers becomes second nature to you. If you want to learn more of these finger strum patterns, refer to this video:

Listen to professionals’ strum: The best way to master your playing skills is to also learn how others master the strumming. You should be a listener first before a finger strummer.
It helps if you look at the videos that professionals upload and see the way they strum their fingers.

Strengthen the thumb: When strumming with the thumb, make sure you put it at rest once in a while. Don’t overdo it.
The best way to master something, too, is also making sure that you don’t wear the finger out. Play for an hour but rest for two.

Vary it up: Even if your fingers don’t change, you can change the warmth and richness of your sound just by varying up the finger strums.

If you vary it up and stroke your fingers in different directions, you’ll be noticing the varying tone changes that you thought wouldn’t be possible since it’s just the same fingers that strummed them before.


So there you have it: these are the easy steps you can follow to learn how to strum without the use of your pick. From the different strums to the tricks that professionals usually use, this guide has offered the general steps and tricks for you to learn faster.

I wish you had fun reading it and you’d share this to your friends so many people will also enjoy the fun of learning how to strum guitar with fingers.

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