Chopping Wood


This beat uses a chopping wood technique to drive the feel of the groove.

Chopping wood is a slang phrase used to describe beats that feature a strong, repeated snare drum pattern. It looks like the drummer is using a chopping wood motion with the stick, hence the name.

As is the case with the beat above, chopping wood can often refer to grooves that play the snare drum on beats 1, 2, 3 and 4. Though not heard as often as a 2 and 4 backbeat, there are some great songs that feature the 1, 2, 3, 4 chopping wood pattern. For example, (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, California Dreamin’, Born To Be Wild, Oh Pretty Woman and Purple Haze all feature a chopping wood groove.

As an exercise, try changing some of the grooves you play so that the snare drum plays on 1, 2, 3 and 4. Keep everything else the same. It might be difficult to do at first, but stick with it. Once you get it, listen to how the groove sounds while you play it. Then, try playing the original beat four times and then switching to the chopping wood technique. Notice how this creates a more driving, anticipating feel.

If you come up with any cool ideas using this technique, please share it with us on our Facebook page. We enjoy hearing from you!

Want more practice with the 'Chopping Wood' technique? Try out Oh, Pretty Woman played by the famous Buddy Harman. Download and print today!

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Publisher of, Alfred Publishing author and veteran Drum! Magazine Groove Analysis video instructor, Nate holds a Bachelor of Arts in Education from John Carroll University in Cleveland, OH and is currently undertaking a Master of Arts in Education at the University of Findlay in Ohio.