Top Five Essential Beginner Grooves

Billy Cunningham

March 1, 2019

This blog is dedicated to the five most important beginner groove patterns. These patterns are essential to developing your coordination on the kit and will cover the basics across a range of musical styles and feels.

Once these five patterns have been learnt and applied across the kit then the next stage is to play these along with suitable songs. Let’s look at each example in more detail.

1. ¼ Note Groove

This pattern features a single hi-hat note per beat. This means each bass and snare note is with the hi-hat. Be careful to count the beats 1, 2, 3, 4 etc. You can apply this groove to a whole range of song tempos from very slow to very fast. A good song to start with is ‘Do I Wanna Know’ by The Arctic Monkeys.

2. 8th Note Groove

The 8th note groove has 8 notes on the hi-hat which means there’s a hi-hat note in-between each bass and snare drum note. Count the 4 strong beats as 1, +, 2, +, 3, +, 4, +. I recommend the song  ‘Glamorous Indie Rock n Roll’ by The Killers, which should be a comfortable tempo once the pattern is learnt.

3. 16th Note Groove (1 handed)

The 16th note groove has 16 hi-hat notes in the bar and 4 notes per beat. All the hi-hat notes are played with the right-hand for right-handed players. We can count this bar as 1, e +, a, 2, e, +, a, 3, e, +, a, 4, e, +, a. This groove can work well in slower tempos in perhaps a ballad song or in faster funky feel.  I recommend the song ‘Purple Rain’ by Prince for a slower pop feel. 

4. 16th Note Groove (2 handed)

This 16th note groove is similar to the previous pattern but now played as a single stroke sequence on the hi-hat.  This groove can work well in faster tempos as we are now dividing the 16th hi-hat notes between 2 hands not one.  I recommend the practise song ‘Smoke On The Water’ by Deep Purple.

5. 12/8 Groove

This groove pattern has 12 8th note hi-hat notes in it hence the name 12/8 Groove. There are 3 notes per beat so we can count this as 1, +, a, 2, +, a, 3, +, a, 4, +, a. This can be a very typical blues feel, rock style or a funky pop feel. Practise with ‘Fallin’ by Alicia Keys or ‘Somebody To Love’ by Queen. The latter is much faster so keep up with the track!


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So I hope that this has been some help in covering in my opinion the five most important beginner groove patterns.

Have a great time drumming!