Strumming patterns: am I missing any? [2021]

Exciting times here behind the scenes at Strum Machine: I’m recording (and programming) a whole bunch of new strumming patterns for it!

May 2022 update: the first beta version of these new styles is out!

[December Update: various events (such as the new problems in iOS 15, the big November update that ended up being way bigger than first planned, and finding out I now have to quickly get compliant with VAT in Europe) have conspired to delay work on these new strumming patterns. I’ve made some progress but at this point it is going to be early 2022 (maybe February or March) before there are new patterns to play with. It remains my #1 goal, though!]

[Mid-April 2022 Update: So much for February or March. :roll_eyes: I won’t enumerate excuses here. But I feel like I’m now weeks away, not months! Hope to make another announcement soon.]

:arrow_up:  Yours truly, recording samples for new strumming pattern prototypes.

Before I go too much further, though, I want to hear from you, my users.

The big question is, which strumming styles are missing from the list below? It’s far easier to collect all the samples I need for each strumming pattern all at once, so I’d like to know what you’d find useful to have available.

I’d also like to hear if you have any ideas about how to talk about these strumming styles. There could probably be better ways of labelling or categorizing these styles/patterns; it’s hard to put such things into words!

If it all looks good to you, just leave a “thumbs up” at the bottom of this post. :+1: :smiley:

Below are the styles I’ve got so far, with a little demo I recorded for each one.


4/4 “Boom Chuck”-based styles

Simple Boom-Chuck

Simple root-strum-fifth-strum that Strum Machine currently uses for everything in Standard Time (i.e., 4/4).

I’d like to add two options to this, if I can:

  1. Relative volume of the “boom” vs “chuck”
  2. Automatic bass runs (which would be available in other styles as well)

Here’s an example of this strumming style, and the two options I’m considering:

Boom Chuck with Upstrokes

The basis for almost all strumming used in bluegrass, as well as many other genres. It’ll sound like “Boom Chuck Boom-a-chuck-a” by default; you’ll be able to have more or less upstrokes by changing a setting. The pattern can be slightly randomized for interest. You’ll also be able to specify how to play the downbeats: picked bass note, “bassy strum”, or a combination of the two.

More importantly, having upstrokes (eighth notes) means we can include rhythmic swing, which will be optional.

Here’s an example of this strum, both with and without swing:

The rest of the recorded examples on this page use varying amounts of swing. Keep in mind that you’ll be able to use any amount of swing with any pattern.

Boom Chuck with Crosspicking

Similar to “Boom Chuck with Upstrokes”, but instead of a down-up-down-up strum at the end of the bar, crosspicking is used to ring out an arpeggiated (broken) chord, like so:

Syncopated Boom Chuck

Like above, but with a strong up-strum right before the second downbeat, for a 3+3+2 syncopated feel: “Boom chu-KA a-chuck-a”. There’s an extended two-measure pattern that I may implement as well, which you can hear in the second half of this example:


This is a tricky one to implement, so I’d love to know how much demand there is for it. Mainly I think this’d be used with the option to rock back and forth between a major chord and the major sixth chord, like Hank Williams does all the time, and like you can hear in this example:

Half-Time Boom Chuck

I imagine this would come in handy for some songs:

4/4 Dampened styles

Dampened Boom Chuck

In this style, the “chuck” offbeats are always dampened, while the “boom” bass note can either be sustained or cut short (or a mix of the two). Go-to pattern for Texas/Contest Fiddle style, as well as Cajun and others. Example:

Dampened Strums (better name?)

I’m talking about the kind of strumming used in swing: a strummed (possibly dampened) chord on beats 1 & 3, and a dampened chord on beats 2 & 4, like this (minus all the flubs):

La Pompe (Gypsy Jazz strum)

Kind of a combination of the above two patterns, but the little upstroke ahead of the beat is distinctive enough that it probably needs its own style… or maybe this’d just be a variation on Dampened Strums above. Note, I’m totally inexperienced with playing La Pompe, so excuse my very poor rendition of it in this example:

4/4 Down-Up strumming styles

Syncopated Down-Up Strumming

Used widely in pop music, but also as backup for reels in Celtic and other styles. Example, without and with swing:

A two-measure extended pattern:

Maybe: Down-Up with Half-Time Palm Muting (what to call this?)

I hear it in contra dances as well as popular music. Not sure if I should offer it as a pattern but it could be fun to play fiddle to:

3/4 Strumming Patterns

Simple Waltz Strum / Boom Chuck Chuck

This is what Strum Machine does currently:

Waltz Strum with Upstrokes

This one semi-randomly strikes the strings on the in-between beats for a more interesting sound:

You’ll be able to choose between having those in-between notes swung (as in the example) or straight, of course, as well as the frequency and variation of the upstrokes.

Half-Time Waltz

Like above but with a strong “one-two” feel over two measures:

Syncopated Waltz

ONE and two AND three and ONE and two AND three and…

Pretty Waltz

OK, I’m not sure about this one (the name OR whether it should be an option)… but it occurs to me that when I accompany a waltz on guitar, I like to use upstrokes and syncopation, so this one combines the two…

Perhaps instead there should be an option under “Waltz with Upstrokes” to the effect of “do the occasional syncopation”…

6/8 or Jig Strumming

Jig Strumming

There’s a fair bit of syncopation in the example; you’d be able to turn that down (or up). The demo also switches chords an eighth-note early sometimes, which would be another option.

Not an experienced jig strummer myself, so let me know if you have favorite patterns you like to play with as a fiddle/melody player!

More potential strumming styles

Here are a few other patterns I thought of. Any interest in any of these?

Arpeggiated chords: For slower songs, hymns, etc.

Example in 4/4:

Example in 3/4:


Travis-style picking and so forth.

Latin rhythms

These would probably be fingerpicked, right? (Not my area of expertise…)

What did I miss?

Let me know if there’s a strumming pattern or style you’d like to see on this list! It’d be great if you could mention a recorded song example that I could look up to hear it as well, if possible.

Thank you for your input! I’m so excited by all the possibilities here!


P.S. - Just for fun, I’ll share some prototypes I’ve been working on. These are works in progress, and there’s still room for improvement, but perhaps you’ll enjoy hearing a taste of what’s to come – not me strumming the guitar as in the above post, but the real computer-driven deal. I overdubbed an instrument in the second half of each clip as well.

Boom Chuck with moderately-swung upstrokes:

Jig strumming with a fair bit of syncopation:

Half-Time Boom-Chuck:


Because I practice Texas style often, I would like to have Dampened Boom Chuck on Strummachine.


@LukeAbbott, these examples are WONDERFUL! I’m excited to see these additions on Strum Machine.


These are so good I’m glad its evolving- definitely looking forward to trying the jig feel


In my ignorance I don’t know if any of the styles are bossa nova. Good song is Besame Mucho. Would be fun to play with struming. Thanks, Wayne

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Luke, great work. It seems like you’re trying to broaden the utility of Strum Machine considerably. Have you thought about including a 12/8 feel (used in many 50’s classics like “Only You”). I have done studying under Jenn Butterworth a wonderful accompanist based in Glasgow, Scotland. She has some wonderful material on strumming patterns. If you wish I could ask her about sharing the material with you. I think you’ve opened up a big can of worms here, you might consider keeping things somewhat simpler. Cheers, Dave Lidstone

Whoa Luke… this is like a box of bonbons. Some of these sound fantastic. Sure hope we can pick more than one.

These are my favs.

For the basic fiddlin’ I do most of the time I like

Simple boom-chuck with all three types of variation

auto base runs

cross picking


Many of the other I feel would be great for the tunes I want to add some improv. These include:

4/4 Syncopated Down Up Strum

Arpeggiatiate Chord

and especially those three you put at the end

Half time Boom Chuck

Mod-Swing Upstroke

Jigstrum with syncopation

I also love the ¾ Waltz Strum- Boom Chuck Chuck for basic waltz tunes.

These ideas couldn’t come at a better time for me since I’ve sorta’ been in a musical rut the past few weeks. These new rhythms have kindled a lot of new creatie vibes so I sure home we can start seeing some of them in Strum Machine.

Many thanks for all the work you do to make SM the best accompaniment app out there.



Luke. These patterns are great!! I’m assuming the pattern could be set differently for different parts of the song. Very expressive. Thanks. Jim


These all sound great! Makes me realize I should probably being spending more tomorrow on my own rhythm guitar playing…

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Fantastic additions. These new patterns are going to be great for practice, play along and home recording.


Luke, this is remarkable. Will it a big challenge to get all of these options on a dashboard that still includes the music?


They all sound really good. Can’t wait to get going with these new patterns. Lots of fun to be had, Thanks so much for building, hands down, one of the easiest and coolest accompaniment programs an acoustic player ever had!
By the way, I would be willing to pay an upgrade fee to help cover the costs of doing all of these really right if you need it.


Excellent work so far! Do you have any desire or plans to provide an SDK api, for custom strum patterns and finger picking? I would be very pleased if you do/are. Tools like these can be even more useful if others can integrate them with other tools, set list organizers or custom sounds and whatever else folks can dream up.

Thank you for your hard work!

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I don’t think you need any advice. You seem to have it under control. I liked all of the strum, the cross picking was my favorite, I use it a lot, just didn’t know what it was. Thank you for all your hard work.

John Eidson


Excellent…so excited about the new strum patterns…having a ball with this app.Thank you Luke…

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Specially excited about the new jig strums and the waltzes. We are all going to sound fabulous playing along with these. Thanks so much for all your work and your infectious enthusiasm.

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How about cross picking?

Thanks everybody for your feedback, encouragement, and reassurance! It’s good to know that I’m on the right track. I’ve been going a bit crazy these past couple weeks, but once I finished this announcement on Saturday I felt like I was starting to get a handle on things, and your posts have really helped in that regard as well. I appreciate it!

@DaveLidstone I would love to be connected with Jenn Butterworth, thank you! She sounds awesome. I have been thinking of booking a lesson/consultation with an expert in this domain anyway. I’m not sure about that “Only You” style backup… might be too far beyond Strum Machine’s focus on folk and acoustic styles (and their close descendants). But we’ll see! As for the can of worms, it’s fully open already… it’s just a matter of choosing which worms to put back in the can and which to— OK, bad analogy. :wink:

@DannyHarlow All these upgrades are already being paid for by subscribers like you. There will be no additional fees, no subscription cost increases… just more fun stuff for the same price. :grin:

@JohnStevens Everything is going to be tucked away under a single button next to the “key chooser” button, so unless you are wanting to change the strumming style there will be basically no change to the interface. (Simplicity and consistency rules!) The style-choosing interface that the button will show is a design challenge that I’m still working on.

@JimStricker I was originally planning to keep it “one style per song” for simplicity, but I will see if I can add a way to override the strumming pattern for different sections/measures without adding too much complexity to the interface…

@WayneDiffee I will probably save Bossa Nova / Samba / Latin styles for a future update, because as far as I can tell they use fingerpicking pretty much exclusively, and I’m focusing on flatpick-driven patterns. But once I tackle fingerpicking patterns I’ll include these styles as well.

@DaveSchmitt Boom Chuck with Crosspicking is one of the styles above…

@StephenStudley Most likely, custom-built strumming patterns will not be a possibility. Each strumming style is basically a little program (hundreds of lines of code) because there’s actually a lot of complexity that goes into making an artificial strumming pattern that sounds realistic across a broad range of situations. That said, I’m open to integrating Strum Machine with other tools in other ways – I love APIs in principle. If you have a specific idea for something you’d like to build, send me a message and we can see what’s possible.