How To Skip Strings While Strumming

There’ll be times when you need to strum a chord and avoid playing certain strings. This is hard to do when you first start playing guitar, but don’t worry, it gets easy quickly.

Let’s have a quick refresher on string numbers before we begin.

Understanding Guitar String Numbers

How often will I have to skip certain strings?

Often. I’d say around 60% of the time when playing open chords you’ll be asked to avoid strumming at least one string. For example:

  • When playing an open D (or Dm) chord or a simple F (or Fmaj7) you must avoid playing strings 5 & 6
  • When playing any type of C or A (or Am) chord you must avoid playing string 6

You get the idea…

How to strum the guitar while missing strings out

You’ll initially find it very hard to strum just four or five strings with fluidity. Don’t worry, this will come in time. To begin with, just focus on missing the 6th string (E string) and don’t worry too much about avoiding the 5th string (the A string).

Avoid “analysis paralysis” and just play

Some people focus so much on playing the correct strings that they hardly actually strum the guitar at all, they’ll line everything up, their fingers, the pick/plectrum, and fool around for 20-30 seconds before they even start to play the guitar. This should be avoided at all costs.

In the early stages of learning it’s far more important that you get comfortable holding/strumming the guitar and start having fun than it is to PERFECTLY execute every chord.

So don’t overanalyse. At this stage we want progress, not perfection. 🙂

Shape the chord and just start strumming with the picture in your mind that you won’t strum the E string. Two quick tips:

  • Aim to strum as usual, but from a slightly lower starting position. Just drop your forearm by an inch or two and strum as normal.
  • Try holding the pick/plectrum nearer to the pointed end (so there’s a shorter amount of pick between your finger and the body of the guitar). This will give you more control and accuracy. This is the maximum amount of pick that you should be able to see when you look down at your hand (any more than this and you’ll be making life very difficult for yourself):

How To Hold A Guitar Pick

You’ll be surprised at how quickly you improve at intentionally missing strings while strumming. It’s not as hard as it first seems so keep going!

Find Out What You Should Learn Next With Our Guitar Map

If you want to understand where you’re up to in your guitar journey you should take a look at our Guitar Map. It will show you what you ‘should’ know by now (and also what you need to learn next to move forward as a guitarist).

Most people find that the Guitar Map shows them how everything fits together and best of all, it will help you identify gaps in your knowledge that are holding you back.

(There is often just one piece of information that holds people back, 1 key insight that they need to know so they can continue moving forward and improving in their guitar journey.)

We made the Guitar Map so people like you can quickly identify what you don’t know, that you need to know next. We hope that makes sense!?

NOTE: The Guitar Map is now included in our free special report: 'The 7 Steps To Guitar Mastery'.

What Type of Guitarist Are You?

Take our 60-second quiz and see your results now: Take The Quiz

Want free guitar tips and video lessons delivered to your inbox?

Join over 30,000 other guitar learners and subscribe to our guitar-tips-by-email service. (It's free.)

We'll send you a series of lessons that will move you to the next level of your guitar journey.

Learn how everything fits together quickly, easily and effectively. We share ninja tips (for instant fun!) but also timeless fundamentals that will deepen your understanding.


If You're Struggling, Try Something NEW.

Are you tired of trying to learn guitar from YouTube with no structure and poor-quality videos?

As I often tell my students: “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got”. (That sounds trite, but it’s true.)

To move to the next stage of your guitar journey you need to try something new.

Here’s 2 new things you can try NOW:

1) Join our email list and get our 7 best guitar lessons sent straight to your inbox today. (We will never send you spam & you can unsubscribe in 1-click.)

2) Spend some money on your guitar education. The best stuff isn’t free. You have to pay for it. Do you want to learn or not?

I always recommend JamPlay to my students and I do this for 2 reasons:

  • Their lessons are fantastic. They have great teachers who communicate clearly. Their videos film each hand separately which I love.
  • The second reason I recommend JamPlay is they offer a 7-day money-back guarantee, so you can check it out and get your money back immediately if it’s not for you. I like that kind of freedom & it makes them easy to recommend: Check out JamPlay here

Popular Lessons

How To Learn Guitar: An 11-Step Programme For Beginners

10 Easy Songs For Beginners

How To Strum A Guitar

How To Choose The Perfect Beginner Guitar

Guitar Notes Explained: A Guide For Beginners

How To Play Lead Guitar

3 Easy Ways To Play Bm


More Cool Stuff

Learn about the National Guitar Academy: About Us

Join us on Facebook for daily guitar tips.

Listen to our Learn Guitar Podcast for rapid guitar progress.

Check out our free chord lessons.


Thanks for stopping by, speak soon! 🙂

00. Mike Kennedy Profile Pic (Circle)

Mike Kennedy - National Guitar Academy Founder

Enter your email address to learn our best guitar tips and tricks today!