Watch the Rumba Strum Pattern 1a online guitar lesson by Tierra Negra from New World Flamenco

The rumba strum is a basic building block of flamenco. To play this rumba rhythm pattern, I’m going to use my thumb, index, middle and ring fingers, which are referred to in both flamenco and classical guitar by the letters of their Spanish names:

(P) = pulgar = thumb
(I) = indice = index finger
(M) = medio = middle finger
(A) = anular = ring finger

Notice how I rest my upper right arm on the guitar, and allow all the movement to come from my forearm, which swings freely. We will use the thumb and fingers of the right hand to strum the strings.

First I’ll show you the strum while muting the strings. To do so, I press down on them gently with my left hand. This muting technique is called a palo seco, which means "dry stick" in Spanish. It’s named after the stick that was beaten on the floor to accompany flamenco dancers and singers.

Next, we’ll add percussive sounds to the rumba strum by tapping the guitar body with the thumb and thumbnail. As you can see, my flamenco guitar is outfitted with black scratch plates called golpeador that protect the soft wooden body of the guitar from being damaged by my nails. Flamenco guitars come with these attached, but you can also have a luthier attach protective plates to your classical guitar, if you like.

Hit the chart button on the player for the strumming pattern diagram.