3 stroke ruffYou hear the monotonous blabber about the importance of drum rudiments every day and every night. You are probably pretty bored of that topic already, are you not? That is okay, you should not even accept something just for the sake of accepting it unless you are presented why that certain something might be useful for you.

Here we are, taking a look at one of the not often discussed rudiments, the three stroke ruff. This rudiment is so simple that you might easily skip it during your practice thinking “ah, I already know this”. Now that is wrong – the three stroke ruff has more to offer than you would have ever thought.

Understanding How It Work

The three stroke ruff is a succession of two sixteenth and an eighth note played with alternate handing (you may multiple or divide that number, just keep the ratio still). The three stroke ruff is in some ways similar to the single stroke three to drag.

However, unlike in the case of the single stroke three, the three stroke ruff’s first two notes are usually played as ghost notes and, unlike in the case of the drag, the three stroke ruff is played with alternate handing.

In the example below, I have highlighted some of the most basic possible combinations of three stroke ruffs. As you can see, they can not only be used on the snare – that is something people often tend to forget.

Three stroke ruffs are not heavy showmanship: most people will not even notice that you played one. These are subtle additions that will make your audience go like “I do not know what the drummer is doing, but it is cool!”

Understanding how three stroke ruffs work

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Incorporating Your Newly Learnt

To solve the problem raised in the introduction, we had to find possible applications for the three stroke ruffs. Just like any other drum rudiment, the three stroke ruff can be applied in any situation; the limit is only set by your imagination.

To showcase this particular versatility in the example below you can find on-beat (measures number one and three) and off-beat (measure number two) applications consisting of strokes on the hi-hat and the snare. Also, the fourth measure shows a very simple concept for composing drum fills using the three stroke ruff.

By utilizing ghost notes, the fill creates the sensation that even though only the off-beat accented strokes are distinct, the whole fill has a certain depth, certain fullness. You should pay attention to how the three stroke ruffs can be identified within the rhythm as a separate component but, at the same time they seamlessly become part of a whole.

Incorporating three stroke ruffs into beats

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Moving Your Three Stroke Ruffs to the Bass Drum

The initial point of this short guide was to show you how the three stroke ruff can be used to give your bass drum technique a new layer. However, an evolutionary structure was needed in order for us to get here. In the example below you can see how the entire bass part of the beat is structured in groups of three and how this gives the whole beat a solid structure.

After three measures of the base beat, you can see a drum fill centered around three stroke ruffs and the bass drum at the same time. The usage of ghost notes on the bass drum in the fill gives the whole fill a somewhat surprisingly smooth character.

Moving your three stroke ruff to the bass drum

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