Fake Strums Tutorial

The fake strum is a simple technique that I use a lot in my arrangements. So it’s about time I gave it a post of its own.

It’s used in fingerpicking pieces to play full chords. It sounds like a strum but it’s just done by picking individual strings in sequence.

Here it is played twice slowly then up to speed.

Why bother?

Instead of doing this, you could just strum the strings and get the same effect. However, doing it this way keeps your fingers in position for picking individual notes. Making for much easier and smoother playing.

Here’s a quick video combining picking and fake strums.

In Tab

There isn’t any established tab for this as far as I know. I haven’t been distinguishing between fake and real strums in the past. But from now on I’ll be representing fake strums with a wiggly line like this:

You can do fake up-strums as well (although it’s more tricky and I can’t remember ever using one). But if one crops up I’ll be tabbing it like this:

View Comments


  1. Armelle June 23rd, 2010 6:17 pm

    Al, thanks a lot for these explanations and videos.
    Fake strums do sound smoother than standard strums.
    I’m definitely going to use this.

  2. J-Hob June 23rd, 2010 7:24 pm

    I’ve practiced fake strums in the past and found them very tricky, I can do it slowly just fine but getting up to speed is tough, I’ll keep practising!

  3. muz June 24th, 2010 8:45 am

    very cool :).

    Going to go home and practice this after work.

  4. Rob NY June 24th, 2010 12:43 pm

    Thanks Al!

  5. melissa June 24th, 2010 12:45 pm

    Yer a fraking genius!

  6. Woodshed June 26th, 2010 5:06 pm

    Armelle: Thanks, hope you find it useful.

    J-Hob: Good luck with it! Worth persevering with.

    muz: Cheers!

    Rob: You’re welcome.

    melissa: You’re far too kind. If you only knew…

  7. Redmond June 26th, 2010 8:13 pm

    Is that the standard finger positioning for fingerpicking that I should get used to, or is it more of a preference/song thing? Just don’t want to get into a bad habit.

    Oh, and you rock…

  8. Emily June 26th, 2010 8:31 pm

    Thanks, Al. Sounds lovely.

    Yet another thing on my list of things to practice.

  9. Woodshed June 27th, 2010 8:54 pm

    Redmond: Good technique is NOT to anchor your pinkie on the body like I do.

    Emily: Good luck with it.

  10. Phill. June 30th, 2010 4:49 pm

    The ‘wiggly’ line represents a broken chord in regular musical notation, which is- I guess – another name for ‘fake strum’.
    Awesome explanation though!

  11. Henrik June 30th, 2010 7:35 pm

    Isn’t that wiggly line actually an arpeggio in sheet music?

  12. Woodshed July 3rd, 2010 12:40 pm

    Phill and Henrik: Yeah, it’s along those lines in guitar tab. It was the closest I could find to suit my purposes.

  13. John Ficarro May 24th, 2014 5:47 pm

    I love this. I’ve been looking for classical pieces for ukulele. If you’ve played guitar, this is very do able . Thanks for putting this together.

  14. Woodshed May 25th, 2014 8:48 am

    John: Thanks! Glad it helps.

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