Use the Alternating Bass Technique in 3/4 Time

by David Surette

The alternating-bass approach works great for music in 4/4 time, because each 4/4 measure allows for an even balance between two bass notes (beats one and three), and two chord strums (beats two and four). 3/4 time has one less beat in each measure, so the bass/strum pattern needs to be adjusted. For a reliable, basic strum pattern, play the root bass note on beat one of one measure, followed by two strums. If the chord lasts for more than one measure, play the alternating bass note on the first beat of the next measure, followed again by two chord strums (Example 4). Have a listen to the Carter Family’s “The Storms Are on the Ocean” to hear a 3/4 tune that uses a similar approach.

Enhancing Patterns ex4_6
Click to enlarge.

Example 5 shows the same 3/4 progression in the key of C. Here, we’re using the “basic” F-chord shape described in “The Fundamentals of Carter-Style Guitar,” with the ring finger shifting to grab bass notes just like we’ve practiced for the C chord. Examples 6a and 6b show two other fingerings for the F and the bass/strum patterns associated with them.

Excerpted from Carter-Style Guitar Basics - Enhancing Carter-Style Strum Patterns

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