What is Strumming?
Guitar strumming is a simple, core concept of playing almost any stringed instrument. Even people with no idea of how play have at least some idea of what this is. This concept is so simple and basic it is almost doesn't warrant a written definition. However, if we are to analyze it for the sake of choosing the best tool for the job, we must define it. I would define strumming as the action of mechanically displacing all the desired strings of any particular stringed musical instrument simultaneously for the purose of creating a polyphonic collection of harmonious tones. To put it more plainly, it's the way we play chords.
A bit of my personal history.
I began (like most of us) on the guitar by learning to play basic open chords. Of course my picks of choice at that point were the cheapest, most common picks on the market; the "thin", classically shaped, celluloid pick. These served me quite well in the beginning. They were very easy to use and very forgiving with respect to my undeveloped level of control and precision.
After about year of teaching myself to play, I concluded that I needed some degree of professional instruction. I started taking lessons and my teacher recommended that I switch to using heavier gauge picks. He was quite adamant about this issue and made a very convincing argument for the increased level control and resultant skill that such would provide.
Being the stubborn, independent person that I am, I stuck with what I was using. It wasn't until years later that I realized my skill was no longer progressing and that it might be possible that a a better pick could be the answer. At that point I had upgraded all of my gear except for my picks and I realized that I had no choice but to explore the possibility that the advise I had previously ignored might have some merit.
Choosing a Pick for Guitar Strumming
If you are just starting out, I have to say that a thin gauge pick made of flexible material is going to be a very cost effective and an easily learnable way to play guitar. It is of zero benefit to me to say that, as I do not make or sell such a product -- but it is the truth. I teach guitar to a handful of students at a time and most of them have already decided that they prefer such picks by the time they start learning from me.
If you have gotten some of the basics down and it is time start pushing your skills to the next level, then it is time to take the training wheels off and abandon your trusty thin pick. I provide all of my students with Dragon's Heart to train on. Of course I recommend the Dragon's Heart Guitar Pick; I designed it, I use it, and believe it's the best option on the market. It gives you three optimized playing edges that help build diversity into your skills and allow you to experiment with new styles that other picks will not.
If you are not yet ready to make the leap to the Dragon's Heart, then I do encourage you to try as many picks as you can get your hands on. Spend time with each one and try to see the merits each may have. Remember, someone put time and effort into each pick's design and their style might be akin to yours. I designed the Dragon's Heart to be the very best, but there is no "one size fits all" with respect to the guitar pick.
The Dragon's Heart "Rounded Edge" - Perfect for Strumming!
If you spend most of your play time strumming, I would recommend our rounded edge. It offers the least mechanical resistance and has the most uniform harmonic ring of the three edges. It also retains the highly desirable degree of control you will get from a thicker pick and allows you transition seamlessly to various picking styles.
This is not to say that the other edges cannot be used for strumming. One of the artists I am currently recording with is a Dragon's Heart user and he swears by the pointy jazz style edge.
Different players will always have differing opinions on what is best. The Dragon's Heart is uniquely great because it gives any player several options in one package.
How to Bring out the Best Strumming Sound
I wish I had some universally definitive advice about the best way to strum a guitar. I use many different techniques myself and, as a Dragon's Heart user, I vary which edge I use based upon the sound I am trying obtain.
Here's a related video on the various ways to hold your guitar pick.
Bringing out the best sound is subjective. The only way to get what you are looking for is to experiment with different picks, different styles and, most importantly, to listen to the results.
Should you decide to try a Dragon's Heart Guitar Pick (and I hope you do), spend time with each edge and experiment with the different grip positions. Holding a pick closer to the tip will yield a smoother stroke and more harmonic ring. Holding it with more pick exposed will create a more percussive, aggressive sound.
There really is no "wrong way to do it". If you like the sound, then you are doing it right.
What Others are saying about Strumming w/ Dragon's Heart Picks....
Check out Dallton Santos as he reviews Dragon's Heart Guitar Picks.
Until next time...
Play with fire... In your heart.