Guitar Strumming Lesson: 6/8 Strumming Patterns

We’ve looked before at beginner guitar strumming patterns in the 4/4 time signature or in a count of four. We haven’t looked yet at 6/8 strumming patterns where you count in six.

Here is a video guitar lesson that I just did this morning that will allow you to learn some 6/8 strumming patterns. We’ll even apply what we learn to playing Paramore’s song The Only Exception.

Probably the most important take-away from this guitar lesson is the importance of keeping steady and consistent time. It’s not about how fast you can play or how complicated you can play a strumming pattern. The most simple pattern played consistently and in good time we’ll be a thousand times more effective than a really complicated strumming pattern played out of time.

This is why I count out loud so much in this lesson. Counting out loud helps you to develop an internal time clock. Using a metronome to practice guitar is another really effective way of developing better rhythm and time.

Another big positive about developing this internal sense of time is that it freely enables you to create other strumming patterns. If you know the structure in which a strumming pattern fits into, it makes it easy to create your own rhythms.

Questions & Comments

Do you have any questions about strumming and developing time? What tips do you have for gaining a better sense of time?

About Brett McQueen

Brett McQueen is a musician, songwriter, and the founder and editor of Guitar Friendly and Ukulele Tricks. Learn more about him here and follow him on Twitter at @GuitarFriendly.


  1. A really useful lesson for guitar newbies… everything explained in big details, so that even a one week guitar player would be able to learn something!

  2. Thanks, ProFuzz. That’s exactly what I was hoping to achieve.

  3. bloodpanther

    This is really awesome, just got my first guitar. I really appreciate how you were very informative and detailed. I also like how you are not talking over my head. Thank you very much!

  4. bloodpanther, so glad to hear you found it helpful and that you’re learning how to play guitar. Keep up the hard work practicing and let me know if you have any questions.

  5. Hi Im not realy catching on to strumming does that mean I suck at playing guitar, and should I rather stop? Beacause I have been playing for a year now and im not realy getting it…

    • John

      Elaine, the answer to your question is “no.” Hang in there! Some concepts will come easier to you than others. Whenever I get in a rut, or can’t quite get something, I just slow down, drop back a bit and then ease into material that challenges me. You are on the “steep” part of the learning curve still, based upon the time you have under your belt, so be patient with yourself and remember to have fun playing the songs you enjoy and are comfortable with. One thing I would highly recommend is to check out on this site. Also, check out the Jam Play course Brett has a link to on that page. I hear that is an awesome set of lessons as well.

  6. Emma

    Hi thanks for this, it is a great video. I just wondered what is the strumming pattern for the song the only exception? Is it just DUDU all the way through? I find it reaally hard to tell just by listening

  7. Rachel

    Hello, I was wondering which fret do you play the chords on if you do not have a capo?

  8. Jack

    Hi, i’m having the same problem as Emma (Dec 8th). I can’t work out the strumming pattern for the song. i get the 6 8 bit but i just can’t work out how to play it like they do in the song. Many thanks!

  9. 6/8 Strumming Patterns are awesome! Great lesson, keep it up!

  10. Haley

    Hey, thanks for the great lesson on timing! But… the strumming pattern for the paramour song is clearly a little more than just down and up in 6/8 timing. It’s hard to hear the strumming on it’s own with your vocals over top … so tell us! What’s going on there?


  1. […] Here are the chords and lyrics for Paramore‚Äôs The Only Exception from their “Brand New Eyes” album. It uses the most basic guitar chords and has a swung 6/8 rhythm. If you are new to strumming, or unfamiliar with 6/8 strumming patterns, you might want to check out our guitar lesson on 6/8 strumming patterns. […]

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