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Mastering 16th Note Strumming: Unlock Your Rhythmic Potential


As a guitarist, you’re no stranger to the thrill of strumming your way through songs. But when it comes to 16th notes, things can get a little tricky. Perhaps you’ve heard of the term “cutting”? Fear not, because in this blog post, we’ll delve into the art of 16th note strumming (also known as “cutting” in japan). Strum along as we demystify the technique and empower you to play with precision and flair.

1. The Power of a Thin Pick

Picture this: a funk guitarist strumming rapidly with an  infectious groove as audience members tap their feet and sway to the rhythm. How can he achieve such accuracy at a constant tempo? That’s the magic of a thinner pick (and the proper technique of course, read on). Not only does it allow for smoother rhythm playing, but it also evens out your sound, akin to a musical compressor. The dynamic range of your strums becomes more controlled, resulting in a consistent and steady chord sound. So, save your heavyweight picks for the solos and embrace the funky potential of a thinner one. Read our article on choosing the right guitar pick here.

2. Loosen Up: The Art of Pick Control

Hold that pick with a gentle touch. Imagine it as a feather, ready to dance across the strings. A loose grip enables you to strum without resistance. As you strum, let your wrist remain supple, allowing the pick to glide across the strings easily. Remember, it’s not about brute force; it’s about finesse. So, loosen up, and let your pick do the talking. Fast and loose strumming is the way to go! You can learn more about pick control here.

3. Wrist Arch: The Secret to Lightning-Fast Strumming

Raise your wrist slightly, creating a gentle downward arch toward the strings. This subtle adjustment facilitates rapid rotation. The motion should originate from your wrist, not your entire arm. Think of it as a perpetual motion machine—the engine driving your 16th note strumming. Keep that wrist nimble, and watch your rhythm soar. Your arm may also move but it is only to drive the constant rotation of the wrist.

4. Down Strokes Rule the Eighth Notes

In the rhythmic universe, down strokes reign supreme. When playing sixteenth notes, maintain the sacred down-up-down-up pattern. Even when the rhythms get complex, stick to the script. As you accelerate, imagine your wrist as a perpetual motion generator, churning out 16th notes. To achieve intricate rhythms, skip the strings or employ left-hand muting. This allows you to spice up your basic 16th note strumming pattern with a funky flavor.  Sync your strumming with the music’s heartbeat! Downs on the downbeats! Downs on all the 8th notes too!

5. Notation Matters: Write It Down

Don’t leave your strumming direction to chance. Pen it down on your sheet music. Yes, it’s tempting to wing it since the motion is constant, but accuracy matters. You might find that the written rhythm is slightly different from what you might play naturally. Writing in the strumming directions is a great way to double check your rhythms. Whether it’s a downstroke, upstroke, or a mute, make sure you know what you are playing. Your sheet music becomes your roadmap—follow it faithfully. If you have a performance coming up, check out our article on preparing to play with a band as well.

6. The Journey: From Frustration to Mastery

Learning anything new can be daunting. The frets, the strings, the rhythm—it’s a symphony of challenges. But remember, every virtuoso was once a beginner. When frustration knocks, seek guidance. Your guitar teacher knows the way. They’ll choose songs tailored to your level, keeping motivation alive. Teachers at The American Guitar Academy can break down the parts and guide you to mastery! 


As you work your way through the 16th note challenge, remember this: precision, passion, and persistence pave the way. And if you’re hungry for more, consider joining The American Guitar Academy. Our expert instructors will fine-tune your skills, transforming you into a rhythmic maestro. Sign up today and let the strings sing your story!



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