New Strumming Patterns Preview Release!

Friends, I’m thrilled to be announcing the first preview release of some new guitar strumming patterns for Strum Machine!

To be clear, this is a rough draft, so to speak. I have many more patterns/styles/genres to cover, and more work to do on improving the realism of what’s there so far. Plus there are other shortcomings, which I’ll cover toward the bottom of this post.

So why am I putting this out well before it’s finished? Simply put, I’m already having so much fun practicing with these new patterns, and I want you to enjoy them too!

[Post updated May 23 to reflect current progress on the upgrades.]

Known issues

Besides the general work that needs to be done on the various styles and strumming patterns, here’s a list of shortcomings that I know about and will be addressing in a future release:

  • Genre/style settings are forgotten when you close Strum Machine Implemented May 23
  • The new styles aren’t available in medleys or in the song editor Usable in the editor as of May 23, medleys as of mid-September
  • Endings (when using Auto-Finish) don’t sound right Fixed for all genres besides Celtic on June 6
  • There’s no way to specify whether a song should be played “modal”, or with a particular voicing

No need to notify me about these issues, although if you have thoughts on how to address the last one I’d be curious to hear them.

Video demo of what’s there

This 3-minute video includes a sampler of the new styles in this first beta release (starting at 1:25):

How to try it out

Just go to and open up any song. You’ll see a new button next to the key-switcher, which opens a menu that lets you change the backup style:

Tap the “Presets” button at the top to see some built-in presets (more on the way) or make your own. Or just click on an instrument to start adjusting it.

Don’t be shy about sending feedback! Click “Help” in the top-right corner of Strum Machine or reply here on the forum. Thanks!

Broad styles/genres I plan to cover

  • Bluegrass
  • Old-Time
  • Celtic
  • Canadian
  • Jazz/Swing - should this be two separate genres?
  • Cajun
  • Country
  • Blues
  • Folk/Rock/Pop - I merged these…
  • Misc/Other - if needed

Only the first five genres have anything to play with at the moment…

What’s yet to come

Most of the new strumming patterns available are still in a “work in progress” state, especially the Celtic ones. And there are plenty more that I haven’t done the programming for yet. I’m trying to take all the different accompaniment variations used within each genre/style and distill them down to a handful of “sub-styles” for each instrument, and figure out what options for “fine tuning” each instrument I want to offer. My goal, though, is to make it so that a large majority of users are satisfied with the defaults for each genre and don’t need to dive into the details.

I would love to hear your input on any genres/styles you’re particularly knowledgable/passionate about, especially in terms of what you feel are the “sub-styles” within each genre/style.


Huge step. Thanks.

By the way, 4 instruments?!.

Luke, this is great! So far, I have really only tried out a little bit of the Old Time and the Canadian reels. C’est formidable! I love the foot tapping; really gives it the Québecois feel. Thank you for all your work!


I accidentally released the first version with an excessive amount of upstrokes in the Bluegrass styles. I just fixed that.

I love the foot tapping; really gives it the Québecois feel.

I love it too! You’ll be able to toggle it in the future or even have foot tapping alone if you want.

By the way, 4 instruments?!

I started learning them all around the same time (age of 11-13) when my family got into bluegrass. :blush:


Luke in the Bluegrass strums there’s straight and swing. It sounds like the swing slider can have an impact when straight is chosen. Was that deliberate?

Oh wow, even Old Joe Clark sounds better! I tested all the patterns on a few songs and what a huge difference in the feel. I still need to understand the subtleties of the slider, but I am exploring.
I had a couple of glitches in the beginning: only the first few bars had guitar chords and then only the bass note played for the rest of the song. At one point, it was stuck on Classic Strumming. All of it resolved itself. Unfortunately, it happened without me trying anything, so I have no tips on how to proceed if it happens again. Thank you Luke.
Here’s a little experiment:

I just noticed that the link has dropped the strumming pattern Jazz/Swing. I guess it needs to be played on the beta version for that option to work. When I clicked on the link to check it went straight to the old version.

Mauro, if you get a chance tell us about your playing and the thinking behind that arrangement of Old Joe Clark.

I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer, so I was wondering what swung is in the new strum patterns

Maybe the word swing throughout might be preferable to using swung some of the time.

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John, I started playing bluegrass in Italy (!) back in the '70ies. I got to play banjo by accident, but I loved Eric Weissberg and Bill Keith. Scruggs etc. was great, but it did not make me happy. As I kept playing, melodic banjo was my challenge, but I also like jazz. I composed a few tunes and they are hybrids of melodic and Scruggs with gipsy jazz harmonic patterns. I am not a pro musician, I just dabble, but I love elaborating on back up harmonies/harmonic patterns. Cole Porter is my hero.
With the new strumming patterns in the Machine, I hope to have more coherent arrangements.
These are a few links to how I play some standards and some of my arrangements:

Old Joe Clarkish - YouTube Old Joe Clarkish

Eight More Miles To Louisville - YouTube 8More Miles To Louisville

Soldier's Joy - YouTube Soldier’s Joy

8th of January - YouTube 8 Of January

If Ever You Were Mine - YouTube If Ever You Were Mine

Westphalia Waltz - YouTube Westphalia Waltz

Twilight by Bela Fleck - YouTube Twilight

Black Mtn. Rag - YouTube Green Mt Hop/Black Mt Rag

Rickett's Hornpipe - YouTube Rickett’s Hornpipe

Swung hasn’t made it to Arkansas yet, lol

LUKE! Oh, Luke! These are WONDERFUL!!! I’m having SO much fun trying out the various strumming patterns on the tunes I have put on Strum Machine! They sound great! I’m very much looking forward to your expanding to the other genres (rock, country, etc.). But, so far, what you have done is Out. Of. This. World! I am so excited for you. GREAT job!


Funny thing about the Quebecois foot tapping. It sounds pretty close to my foot tapping. When I play I always tap my foot and usually have a piece of plank close by that I put under my foot to accentuate the tapping. My foot tapping is a steady beat, more like a metronome or digital drum beat.

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Great Luke! Just started with a few songs and can already hear wonderful changes in authentic feel. Wow, thank you for this!

Strum Machine keeps getting better and better and better. I wish everything in life were like this.


What I like the most about what Luke’s done is this is only the beginning of what’s coming.

Loving the positive feedback I’m receiving so far… and the constructive feedback too! It’s a very exciting time and there’s lots more work to do before everything is dialed in, but I’m thrilled that y’all are enjoying it so much already.

It sounds like the swing slider can have an impact when [a “straight” preset] is chosen. Was that deliberate?

I’m not sure what to do here. Seems like some adjustment/tweaking is warranted because it turns out that even “straight” bluegrass guitar playing has a bit of swing to it; I checked by analyzing real strumming audio. Truly even eighth notes (zero swing) sounds a bit robotic. That said, should I let people turn a “straight” preset into a “swung” one, or restrict the range of “swing” for each preset?

There may be something to be said for cutting the number of presets in half by having Swing be a completely independent setting. I’m not sure. There may be too much variation in the ideal amount of swing from song to song to be able to lump songs into two buckets: swung and not swung. So is it better to not incorporate swing into the presets? (Context: I plan to eventually offer the ability to save your own presets, which will make more sense when there are more knobs and levers to play with…)

Also, I am wondering if it would be better to replace the “Swing” slider with a dropdown menu that offers some more descriptive choices, e.g.: Robotic (0%), Straight (10%), Relaxed (20%), Slight Bounce (30%), Bounce (40%), Very Bouncy (50%), Extremely Bouncy (60%)… and that’s as much swing as you’ll ever see in a bluegrass setting.

I eliminated the duplication in the “Soft & Sensitive” preset as an experiment…

Maybe the word swing throughout might be preferable to using swung some of the time.

I hear you. The past tense has been eliminated from the UI, if not from my forum posts. :wink: I’m toying with the idea of “bounce” for the bluegrass preset names, and updated the beta to reflect this…

Swung hasn’t made it to Arkansas yet, lol

They’re certainly using the musical technique over there, even if they don’t call it that. :grin:

What I like the most about what Luke’s done is this is only the beginning of what’s coming.

You better believe it. :metal:

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My feeling is the swing slider is too small to provide more accuracy than the presets. Choosing from 10% increments of swing would work just fine for my purposes.