In this guide I will be showing you the 12 best funk drum beats to learn for drummers of all ability levels. Here is a list of killer sounding funk drum beats to learn that will add some excitement to your playing. They are all 1-bar in length that take up the full bar line, and they are played straight in standard 4/4 time.
These funk drum beats are all played with the hi hat cymbals, kick and snare drum. Funk drum beats can be fairly complex with intricate playing between these parts of the drum set. These funk grooves incorporate different groupings of mostly 8th and 16th notes.
In funk music, the snare drum backbeats aren’t always played on beats two and four. Sometimes backbeats will be played on less common eighth or sixteenth note placements.
Once you have mastered each funk drum beat, practice repeating the groove for 3 bars and then add in a 1-bar fill to develop smooth transitions within a musical context.
Start off slow around 60 BPM and work your way up to 120 BPM using a metronome once you feel confident with each exercise!
Funk Drum Beat 1:
Starting off this list of funk grooves we have a rather simple exercise. It’s a pretty straight forward 8th note beat with a slightly tricky bass drum placement with the ‘3-e‘ kick drum in between the two hi hats that fall on the ‘3‘ and ‘3 &‘. We then have two snare drum hits that are played with your right followed by your left hand before a single hi hat hit.
Funk Drum Beat 2:
One of the most common funk drum beats – this is a drum beat every drummer must learn! It has an additional intricate snare drum hit after the backbeat on the 2 count. The hi hats follow a straight 8th note groove throughout this exercise so this additional snare hit falls in between the ‘2 &‘ and ‘3‘ hi hats.
Funk Drum Beat 3:
This is one of the more advanced, dynamic and fun funk drum beats to play. It starts off with two 8th note hi hats and kicks played together, then entering a fast paced combination of six 16th notes between hi hats and the snare, leading with right and left hand snare hits. Read this notation carefully and practice it slowly before building up speed.
Funk Drum Beat 4:
This funk drum beat gets straight into the groove with two snare drum hits on the ‘1 & a‘ and on the ‘2‘ beats of the bar. Playing the snare drum hits with a left hand and then a right hand will feel the most fluid and natural to play, before returning to the 8th note hi hat groove with your right hand.
Funk Drum Beat 5:
Now we’re going to start learning some of the more challenging funk drum beats, and to help I have included counts of the beat within the bar for guidance. This beat is fairly complex, so ensure your hands and feet remain fluid whilst playing it. It should sound smooth and consistent, and it definitely should not sound swung. It’s a straight drum pattern.
Funk Drum Beat 6:
In this funk drum beat we start introducing faster right hand hi hat playing with a grouping of 3 hits (two 16th notes followed by an 8th note). Ensure you play these hi hats with the same power for even dynamics to help this sound smooth and consistent. Hit the snares on the 2 and 4 counts nice and strong for a solid backbeat!
Funk Drum Beat 7:
This is a really fun drum beat to play, with kick drums that are played at the same time as the right hand hi hats for a really solid and driving feel throughout. Besides for the backbeat snares on the 2 and 4 Watch out for the additional snare that falls on the ‘2 & a‘.
Funk Drum Beat 8:
Here we have a straight 16th note exercise that sounds awesome. Start off by just getting to grips with the hands (so no bass drum at first) with a single stroke roll on the hi hats, then playing the snares where instructed. Once you have the hands locked in then you can add the bass drums.
Funk Drum Beat 9:
Although this funk drum groove seems rather complicated, don’t forget that the right hand follows the same straightforward 8th note hi hat pattern. Just add the 16th note kicks around them where they fall within the groove whilst practicing it slowly.
Funk Drum Beat 10:
Once again we have another old school funk drum pattern that’s played straight. By this I mean it’s not swung – imagine the driving feel of straight 16th note hits played. It’s this type of feel we are after but with different surfaces being played. The kick drums add a lot of flavor and excitement in this exercise – aim to get them sounding really tight in between the hi hats!
Funk Drum Beat 11:
Again we have more rhythmic combinations including back and forths between kick drum and snare hits. This is definitely one of the most challenging funk patterns in this guide, but it also sounds killer. If you can learn to nail this exercise then it’s an amazing tool to add to your arsenal!
Funk Drum Beat 12:
Last but not least we have this funk drum groove that’s focused around intricate 16th note hi hats and it sounds amazing. Perform the sticking pattern as notated and you shouldn’t have any real problems. The kick drums have a pretty linear feel to them so these will need practicing to sound really solid and in time with the rest of the beats.