5 Essential Tips for Playing Drums in Country Music
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


  1. Embrace the Two-Beat Feel
  2. Use Brushes and Other Tools
  3. Study Iconic Country Drummers
  4. Practice Playing Behind the Beat
  5. Incorporate Train Beats

If you've ever wondered how to play drums for country music, you're in the right place. We're going to share five straightforward tips that will help you master this unique style. The good news is—you don't need to be a professional to get started. With some practice and patience, you'll have the basics down in no time. So let's dive in, shall we?

Embrace the Two-Beat Feel

Country music has a distinctive rhythm that sets it apart from other genres. A key feature of this rhythm is the two-beat feel. Let's take a closer look at what this means and how you can start practicing it.

Understanding the Two-Beat Feel

The two-beat feel, sometimes referred to as the "boom-chick" rhythm, is the heartbeat of country music. It's a simple pattern that goes: strong-weak, strong-weak. The strong beat (boom) usually falls on the kick drum, and the weak beat (chick) on the snare. To get a feel for this rhythm, try tapping it out on a table or your knees before moving to the drum set.

Practicing the Two-Beat Feel

  • Start slow: Begin by playing the two-beat feel at a slow pace. This will help you get comfortable with the rhythm without feeling rushed.
  • Gradually increase your speed: Once you've got the rhythm down at a slower pace, start to pick up speed. This will challenge your coordination and help you prepare for faster country songs.
  • Play along with country music: One of the best ways to learn how to play drums for country music is by playing along with country songs. This will help you understand how the two-beat feel fits into the overall sound of the genre.

Remember—practice makes perfect. The more you play the two-beat feel, the more natural it will become. Soon enough, you'll be able to play it without even thinking. That's when you'll know you've truly embraced the two-beat feel, and you're on your way to mastering how to play drums for country music.

Use Brushes and Other Tools

Country music has a soft, laid-back feel, and the right tools can help you achieve this sound. Brushes are popular among country drummers because they produce a smooth, subtle sound that fits perfectly with the genre's mellow vibe. Let's explore how you can use brushes and other drumming tools to enhance your country drumming skills.

Mastering Brushes

Brushes are a pair of thin metal wires attached to a drumstick handle. They create a softer, more textured sound compared to traditional drumsticks. Here's how you can start incorporating brushes into your country drumming:

  • Hold the brushes correctly: Hold the brushes just like you would hold regular drumsticks. The wires should fan out across the drum.
  • Learn to sweep: Unlike drumsticks, which you typically hit or tap, brushes are designed to sweep across the drumhead. This creates a swishing sound that's characteristic of country music.
  • Practice different techniques: Brushes can be used in a variety of ways to create different sounds. For instance, you can tap, drag, or swirl the brushes on the drumhead to experiment with different textures.

Exploring Other Tools

Aside from brushes, there are other tools you can use to create authentic country drum sounds. For example:

  • Rods: Rods are similar to brushes, but they're made from wooden dowels. They produce a sound that's somewhere between a brush and a drumstick, making them perfect for country music.
  • Soft mallets: Soft mallets are great for creating a deep, resonant sound on the toms and bass drum. They add depth and richness to your country drumming.

Using the right tools can make a big difference in your sound. Don't be afraid to experiment with brushes, rods, and soft mallets to see what works best for you. After all, knowing how to play drums for country music is all about finding your own unique sound.

Study Iconic Country Drummers

Country music is a genre steeped in tradition and history. It's shaped by the artists who've left their mark on it. If you're learning how to play drums for country music, studying iconic country drummers can provide invaluable lessons. Let's take a closer look at a few of these legends and the techniques that made them stand out.

Ritchie Albright

Ritchie Albright, often associated with country legend Waylon Jennings, was a master of the basic two-beat and shuffle rhythms that are fundamental to country music. Here's what we can learn from Ritchie:

  • Keep it simple: Albright was known for his straightforward, no-frills drumming. He knew exactly when to lay back and when to drive the beat forward.
  • Master the shuffle: The shuffle rhythm was a staple in Albright's drumming. Learning to play a smooth, steady shuffle can add a classic country feel to your drumming.

Rich Redmond

As the drummer for Jason Aldean, Rich Redmond has been a prominent figure in modern country music. His playing offers a blend of traditional country with rock influences. Here's what you can pick up from Rich:

  • Blend styles: Redmond is known for seamlessly blending country with rock beats. This can add an exciting, modern edge to your country drumming.
  • Play with intensity: Despite the laid-back nature of country music, Redmond's drumming is filled with energy. Learning to play with intensity, even on slower songs, can inject life into your drumming.

Studying iconic country drummers gives you a glimpse into the soul of country music. It teaches you the techniques and attitudes needed to capture the genre's unique feel. So, take some time to listen to these drummers and others. Note their techniques, their style, and how they contribute to the song. It's a sure-fire way to improve how you play drums for country music.

Practice Playing Behind the Beat

If you're working on how to play drums for country music, one technique you'll want to master is playing behind the beat. This might seem a bit counterintuitive, as drummers are often told to stay right on the beat. But, in country music, laying back just a bit can create a relaxed feel that fits perfectly with the genre's laid-back vibe. Let's break down how you can do this.

What Does it Mean to Play Behind the Beat?

Playing behind the beat doesn't mean you're playing out of time. Instead, it means you're shifting your hits slightly after the beat. This gives the music a relaxed, easy-going feel. Imagine a lazy summer afternoon, and that's the vibe you're aiming for when you play drums for country music.

How to Practice Playing Behind the Beat

Playing behind the beat can be a little tricky at first, especially if you're used to playing exactly on or ahead of the beat. Here are some tips to help you get the hang of it:

  • Start with a metronome: A metronome can be your best friend when learning to play behind the beat. Try setting it to a comfortable tempo and practice playing just after the click.
  • Record and Listen: Record yourself playing and listen back. Are you creating that laid-back feel? If not, keep adjusting your timing until you find that sweet spot.

Remember, playing behind the beat is a subtle technique. You're not trying to drag the song down, but rather add a touch of relaxed country flavor. With some practice, this skill will become a natural part of your drumming toolbox and will go a long way in honing your country drumming skills.

Incorporate Train Beats

When learning how to play drums for country, you can't ignore the importance of train beats. These beats are a staple of country music and can inject energy and drive into a song. Here's what you need to know about them.

What are Train Beats?

Train beats, as the name suggests, mimic the steady, rhythmic chugging of a train. They're characterized by a continuous series of eighth notes played on the snare or hi-hat, with accents on the backbeat. This creates a driving, propulsive rhythm that can really make a country song move.

How to Play Train Beats

Train beats can be complex, but don't let that intimidate you. Here's a simple way to get started:

  1. Start with the Hi-Hat: Begin by playing a steady stream of eighth notes on the hi-hat.
  2. Add the Snare: Next, on beats 2 and 4, hit the snare drum along with the hi-hat. This creates the backbeat.
  3. Bring in the Bass Drum: Finally, add the bass drum on beats 1 and 3 to give the beat some extra punch.

Train beats are a key part of the country drumming sound. By practicing these regularly, you'll not only improve your technique but also develop a better understanding of the genre's rhythmic feel.

If you enjoyed learning about playing drums in country music and want to further improve your skills, check out the workshop 'How to Get Better at What You Do - Go from Good to Great!' by Debbie Knox-Hewson. This workshop will provide you with valuable insights and techniques to help you become a better musician in any genre, including country music.