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The Most Popular Rhythmic Figure On Guitar

Kent Shores  /  Lessons / Dec 3

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If you feel like your chord progressions are sounding a bit stale, then the 3-3-2 pattern is one of the best ways to break out of the simple strumming pattern slump that so many beginner guitar players fall into. This new pattern isn’t just one single strumming pattern — it’s more like a tool you can use to create a bunch of totally new patterns for playing songs on the guitar. 

(Download the PDF sheet music)

The 3-3-2 Pattern
Normally, in 4/4 you would emphasize the downbeats. And if you were playing genres like reggae or ska, you might put the emphasis between the downbeats on the “&s”. But in a 3-3-2 pattern, we do something totally different. 

We’ll start by dividing our 4 beats into eighth notes. Next, we’ll divide the eight notes into two groups of three and one group of two. This is how we get the 3-3-2 pattern. Listen to the example in the video and try and listen for the accents. 

3 New Strumming Patterns
We’ll start with all downstrokes, then move to alternating upstrokes and downstrokes, then end with using downstrokes for all the accented notes. Instead of biting off more than you can chew, choose just one of these patterns to focus on.

What do the symbols mean?
The box shape is telling you to strum down and the “V” shape is telling you to strum up.

What this too easy for you?
Now we’re going to turn things up a bit and create some new patterns. If you stretch this out into two bars, we can unlock new patterns by reordering four 3s and two 2s. Take a listen to the video to hear Kent’s examples. Once you get the hang of it you can move the 3s and 2s around to create your own new patterns. They won’t always sound the most musical, but it’s still a great way to develop your rhythm and improve your guitar playing.


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