One of the best ways to improve your guitar playing is to learn to play more dynamically. Often when guitar students start out, you first learn a chord or two, then you learn a couple strumming patterns, and finally you learn an actual song. Many times those songs sound exactly the same, and the reason is you’re not playing with much (or any) dynamics. Here are two quick tips to help:
1. Strum less (or more)
This one may be obvious, but it’s worth saying.
Say you’ve got the following strumming pattern:
It’s a basic pattern that I actually teach in the Rhythm and Strumming series. The pattern itself has some dynamics inherent to it – that’s what the pauses are. But, if you just played that strumming pattern for a whole song, things would get really boring really fast. A simple fix is to just skip some of the strums. For example:
A good place to start is to remove the up strums. You can then strum more (or harder) to increase intensity.
2. Don’t strum all the strings
This one takes a bit more finesse, but it’s good to start developing the skill of accuracy with your strumming. When I say accuracy, I mean only strumming the strings you want to strum.
Start in sections. For a more mellow feel, try to only strum the bass strings – just the low E, A, and D strings. Strumming the same pattern with the same power will sound much more intimate if you’re only strumming those three strings. Strumming the G, B, and high E strings only will also have a nice effect. Vary this up to create more dynamics.