Video Lesson: How to Play the Ballad Strum

Video Lesson: How to Play The Ballad Strum

Some of you will recall I did a free strumming series on YouTube a year or so ago. In it I covered some essential guitar strums aimed at getting you up and playing in a range of musical styles, fast.

Well, it seems that I missed one major style… ballad strum…

And it’s been eating away at me ever since.

So a few weeks back I got in front of a camera and filmed a couple of lessons covering this very cool, and not to mention, versatile strumming pattern.



  1. Victor

    Been with you a good while, I have learned a lot! the only record I have of it all is when I pick my guitar up. and play. I have found, just pick guitar up strum,Play enjoy and get better as I go! The thing one must do is to try and use the ear and listen. Thank you.

  2. Jean

    Thank you so much for all of your amazing free lessons Mark, I have learnt so much from you. You have a fantastic teaching style!

  3. John Hamill

    Hi Mark. Can you tell us what type of songs suit this particular type of strumming – with popular rock, blues or alternative examples?

    1. Mark McKenzie Post author

      I use it for both U2 songs “All I want is you” and “Still haven’t found what Im looking for” also Tom Pettys “Free falling”

  4. johnson

    nice strumming pattern, I’ll practice really nice

  5. Lauren

    Thank you, Mark! Your videos are always so helpful! 🙂

  6. Jorge

    I love your strumming lesons , but this ballad strumming , I can’t get it , the timing. Because what I learned from you : D DU D That is 3 count D =1 , DU = 2 & , D = 3 AND if I doit twice thats a 6 count. Can this be a 3/4 or what . Can you help me better with the beat count. Ones more for me you are the best , teacher that helped me staying on beat with your strumming leasons.

    1. Mark McKenzie Post author

      Hi Jorge, yes this one is a little tricky like that. It’s still a 4/4 count, but the accented strokes fall ‘off the beat’, which makes it a little more difficult to learn than the other strums I’ve taught so far. It’s also what makes this rhythm sound so cool… the 3 accented strokes over the 4 main beats gives this a triplet type feel. Fun to play once you’ve got it. It can help to write it out like this:

      1 e + a 2 e + a 3 e + a 4 e + a
      D d u d D d u d D

      In the diagram above, each beat is broken up into smaller bits (i.e. 1 e + a, pronounced “One E And A”) to see where the stokes lay.

  7. Kenneth Elmore

    Thanks for the download. I was looking for a course that would systematically help me reach my goal of becoming a well rounded and proficient player. Not a beginner,however I have major gaps in my overall ability as a player. I took a couple of your free courses on line and was amazed in the progress I was seeing.It became clear to me that I need to go back to the very basics beginner level and start over if I want to reach my goals.

  8. Jay

    Cheers mark awesome lesson keep them coming thanks

  9. Ron Mittler

    First let me thank you I could not afford to take lessons if it was not for you and what you’ve been doing on the Internet I took a break from the guitar for about a month my wife passed away a month ago this was the last thing she purchased for me she wanted me to do something as I am home most of the time unable to work full-time I’m starting to get back into it now I won’t give up because I know that’s what she would want she would say oh that almost sounds like music thank you Mark

  10. Phil Higdon aka Silver Beard

    Very nice strumming pattern. Seems to work better at faster tempo than a similar one I learned recently. After 45ys of playing acoustic guitar as a hobby I am really working on boosting my guitar playing and teaching skills and knowledge. Since I have been self taught I missed skills I want now. It helps my solo folk music shows and my teaching. Best of all the new skills I’m learning are fun!

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