Common guitar strumming patterns include a down strum only on each quarter note or a down strum on the first eighth note with an up strum on the second eighth note. Down strums typically happen on the beat, while up strums occur off the beat.
In music containing quarter, half and whole notes, each note receives a down strum. The instrumentalist does not strum upward.
When the music adds eighth notes to longer notes, each quarter, half or whole note gets a down strum. The eighth note strumming alternates down and up. In a score with these notes, quarter, quarter, eighth, eighth, eighth, eighth, the strum pattern is down, down, down, up, down, up.
In a score that includes sixteenth notes, the down strums take place on the eighth, quarter, half and whole notes. The first sixteenth note also gets a down strum, while the second sixteenth note gets an up strum. In a half-bar written eighth, eighth, eighth, sixteenth, sixteenth, the strum pattern is down, down, down, down, up.
When notes are tied together, the second tied note does not receive a strum.
These strumming patterns work with music in 4/4 time, such as rock and pop, and in 3/4 time for waltzes and ballads.