Guitar for Life!

Freteleven Blog

blog image

Strumming 101: All About 16th Notes

Practice Habits| Effortless Expression
February 11, 20235 min read

Hey there, strumming enthusiasts! It's great to have you back for another chapter in our Strumming 101 series. Last week, we focused on locking in our strumming with five exercises. This week, we're taking our rhythm skills to the next level by exploring the core 16th-note rhythms. If you haven't checked out that blog post you can find it here. Strumming 101: 5 Exercises To Lock in Your Strumming

16th notes may seem a bit intimidating at first, but once you understand how they work, you'll be able to add a whole new level of excitement to your strumming. And that's exactly what we're here to help with.

In this week's post, we'll be breaking down the eight core 16th-note rhythms and showing you how to combine them for ultimate strumming versatility. By the end of this lesson, you'll have a solid grasp of 16th notes and be able to play any rhythm you desire with ease.

So grab your guitar, get comfortable, and let's start exploring the world of 16th notes and strumming!

Before we dive into the 16th note rhythms, it's important to remember the foundation we laid last week with the five strumming exercises. These exercises are crucial in building the consistency needed to make your strumming feel great and convey emotion to your listeners. Without a solid foundation of consistent strumming, incorporating 16th notes into your playing can feel disjointed and frustrating.

So, before you jump into the exciting world of 16th-note rhythms, take some time to review and practice the exercises from last week. By doing so, you'll be setting yourself up for success and ensuring that your 16th note strumming will have the impact and emotion you desire.

The core 16th note rhythms are the building blocks of more complex strumming patterns. In 4/4 time, there are four groups of 16th notes, one for each beat in the measure. Understanding this standard for writing rhythms is key to making them easy to read and follow.

Each core rhythm consists of a specific strumming pattern based on down strums and upstrums. The down strums that fall on the 1 and the & of the beats (the 1st and 3rd 16th notes of the beat) are played with a downstroke, and the strums that fall on the e and a (the 2nd and 4th 16th notes of the beat) have an upstroke.

To help you get a better understanding of the core 16th-note rhythms, I've included an example of each rhythm below. You can also check out the accompanying video that shows you how to practice each rhythm. By learning and practicing these core rhythms, you'll be well on your way to incorporating 16th notes into your strumming and taking your playing to the next level.

Core Rhythm 1

16th note core 1

Core Rhythm 2

16th note Core 1

Core Rhythm 3

16th note Core 3

Core Rhythm 4

16th Note Core 4

Core Rhythm 5

16th note Core 5

Core Rhythm 6

16th Note Core 6

Core Rhythm 7

16th Note Core 7

Core Rhythm 8

16th Note Core 8

Combining Rhythms

Once you've become familiar with strumming the core rhythms (with the help of a metronome), it's time to start putting them together to create new and varied strumming patterns. The beauty of these core rhythms is that they can be combined in any way you like. The possibilities are endless!

To give you an idea of what you can create by combining the rhythms, there is an example below of building a 1 measure rhythm by putting 4 of the core rhythms together. This will give you a feel for how the rhythms can be combined to create new and exciting strumming patterns.

A key concept is that your hand is always moving down, up, down, up. Even when you miss the strings. For example, in beat 2 in the rhythm below you are playing 3 notes. The first 3 16th notes (2,e,&). The 'a' or the last 16th note in that beat your had still goes through the upstroke strumming motion but misses the strings. This is what you want to master as you look at the core 16th-note rhythms. Until this is comfortable and somewhat automatic, your rhythms will not sound quite right and you will be unsure of whether to strum a downstroke or an upstroke.

Remember, the key to successfully combining the rhythms is to practice each one until you have it down pat. With consistent practice, you'll be able to strum these patterns with ease and add a new dimension of excitement to your playing.

16th note variation 1

Ties and 16th Notes

When it comes to playing 16th notes, ties are an important concept to understand. Ties are used to extend the duration of a note over a bar line, and in the case of 16th notes, there's an imaginary bar line every beat. This means that if a note's duration goes over to the next beat, it must be tied.

Not only do ties add musicality and interest to our strumming, but they also help our strumming hand get used to playing more complex rhythms. As we practice using ties, our hand becomes more agile and capable of playing more syncopated strumming patterns with ease.

So, don't be afraid to incorporate ties into your 16th note playing! With time and practice, they'll help you play smoother, more intricate strumming patterns that will take your playing to the next level.

Below is an example of the same combined rhythm as in the previous example but with ties in different places in the measure. Notice there isn't a strum on the 2nd timed note.

16th note variation 2

16th Note Variation 3

16th Note Variation 4

16th Note Variation 5

Remember, consistency is key when it comes to mastering 16th note rhythms and incorporating ties into your strumming. By setting aside time each day to practice the core rhythms and experiment with tying notes, you'll be well on your way to becoming a strumming powerhouse.

The payoff for putting in the time and effort to practice these rhythms every day is huge. Not only will you improve your strumming skills, but you'll also be able to convey more emotion and feeling in your playing. You'll be able to add new dimensions of excitement and interest to your music, and you'll be able to keep your audience engaged and entertained.

So, keep practicing those rhythms and tying those notes. With time and effort, you'll see incredible results and take your strumming skills to new heights. So don't give up, stay consistent, and enjoy the journey!

strumminghow do I strum the guitarRhythm guitar
freteleven founder

Andrew Gingerich

freteleven founder

Back to Blog

Subscribe To Our Newsletter



Your Paragraph text goes Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit.