The Essential Easy Drum Beats of Rock Drumming

The drum beats on this page form the basis of nearly all rock drumming. Many more advanced drum set beats can be formed by embellishing on these basic ones. These drum set beats are probably the first ones you should learn because if you master these relatively easy drum beats, you’ll very quickly begin to sound like a “real” drummer. You can then start jamming with your friends.

These basic drum beats are all played on the hi-hat, snare, and bass drum. If you’re a right handed drummer, the hi-hat is played with the right hand, the snare with the left hand, and the bass with the right foot. The left foot is kept on the hi-hat pedal. For left-handed drummers left and right are simply interchanged along with the orientation of the drum kit.

The hi-hat is kept closed, by pressing on its pedal. Experiment with the amount of pressure you apply to the pedal. Pressing too hard will result in a click sound when you hit the hi-hat, but applying a moderate amount of pressure will produce a nicer “tsss” sound.

Each beat is written down with drum notation and accompanied by a sound sample. If you don’t know how to read drum notation yet, it would be useful to visit this drum notation tutorial first.

The sound files are all set to play at the same speed, which might sound quite fast for the sixteenth note beats. But you should practice as slowly as you need to get the drum beat right. Also, the sound files are just snippets that don’t loop, but when you practice you should work your way up to being able to sustain a beat for 2-5 minutes.

Eighth Note Feel

The eighth note feel is the “granddaddy” of rock drumming and is the most popular drum beat. This is the rock drum beat featured on the Beginner Drum Lessons page. So if you’ve already seen that page this should be old hat. By far the most common variations on this rock drum beat have different bass drum patters with the snare steadily kept on the second and fourth beats.

Eighth Note Feel

Sixteenth Note Feel

The 16th note feel is similar to the 8th note feel, except that the hi-hat is played with 16th notes, doubling its speed. This drum beat is rather difficult to play on fast paced songs. When fast speed is required, the hi-hat is often played by alternating both hands. The snare drum is then played by the right hand, which comes down from the hi-hat at the appropriate moment and replaces the hi-hat stroke. If you’re a beginner, don’t worry about this mode of play now, and just practice at a manageable speed with just the right hand on the hi-hat.

Half Time Feel

The half time feel makes the beat sound half as slow as it really is by doubling the space between the snare and bass notes. This beat is the half time equivalent of the eighth note feel. I included two measure samples for all the half time drum beats on this page because I felt that two measures are the minimum needed to portray their sound.

Sixteenth Note Half Time Feel

Same as the half time beat, but with 16th hi-hat notes.

Rock Shuffle

The shuffle feel is at the core of many classic rock and roll drum beats. These drum set beats get a little bit more interesting with hi-hat triplets. The shuffle triplets can be tricky to play at first, as they have their middle note missing. Listen very carefully to the sound sample and get used to how the shuffle sounds. Before playing the whole drum set beat it might prove useful to practice the hi-hat shuffle alone. Start practicing the shuffle by filling in the missing note with the left hand playing the snare or hi-hat. The combined left and right hand notes should be evenly spaced, and then once you remove the left hand note, the shuffle emerges. Once you have the hi-hat pattern down, add the snare and bass notes.

Since the hi-hat suffle pattern can be tricky, it may be useful to listen to it in isolation, as in the following sound file:

Notice how the last note of every triplet pairs with the first note of the following triplet.

Half Time Shuffle

The half time shuffle just slows the pace of the snare and bass.

Of the easy drum beats on this page, the shuffles are the trickiest. Get through those, as well as the other beats here, and you may consider yourself a drumming yellow belt!


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