Acoustic Drum Beats

Strum & Drum – 4 Basic Acoustic Drum Beats for Acoustic Guitar

In this lesson, we're going to learn four basic acoustic drum beats that you can play whilst strumming chords simultaneously.

These acoustic drum beats replicate exactly what a drummer would play in a simple pop song. The idea of this lesson is to get you banging on your guitar and getting it to not only look cool but to also sound great too. One of the many qualities of the acoustic guitar is its capacity to be used as a convincing drum, and with a little practice it works incredibly well. 

People have been using the acoustic guitar percussively since shortly after its invention, and over the past century the style has evolved greatly. There are countless techniques you can learn, ranging from a very simple tap on the strings to full blown complicated drum rudiments played all over the body.

I believe this style, and the guitar in general, is still in its infancy and that acoustic guitar drumming will continue to evolve for many years to come. I hope that this lesson inspires you to dig deeper into percussive guitar and to continue to study rhythm and drumming further.

Four Acoustic Drum Beats

As always, the most important thing to do when first learning these acoustic drums beats is to practise them ridiculously slowly. Practise so slowly that they're not even musical anymore.

The Tabs

For the tablature for these four acoustic drum beats I've added the drum notation directly underneath the guitar.

For the drum notation, the bass drum is written on the note of 'F' on the stave and the snare is on the note of 'C'. Knowing how to count rhythm is essential here.

Acoustic Drum Beat 1

Acoustic Drum Beats 1

Acoustic Drum Beat 2

In this acoustic drum beat we've added another bass drum on the '&' of 3. Just adding this one extra bass can really make it considerably harder. 

Acoustic Drum Beat 2

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Acoustic Drum Beat 3

Here we're playing the bass drum on the '&' after 2 and then on the count of 3.

Acoustic Drum Beat 3

Acoustic Drum Beat 4

This final acoustic drum beat is the hardest to play and will likely take some work. However, it's great fun to play once you've mastered it.

Acoustic Drum Beat 4

Further Study

In this lesson I've only used two very simple chords. Once you're comfortable you must try them on any other progressions you know.

All of the acoustic drum beats that we've learnt here have the bass drums landing on a down strum. Try and get to the point where you can comfortable play the bass on any down strum within the bar. 

Here are a few exercises you can do to help develop your bass:


Acoustic Drum Beats 6

2.Acoustic Drum Beats 7

3.Acoustic Drum Beats 8

Do the same now but with the snare:


Acoustic Drum Beats 9


Acoustic Drum Beats 10


Acoustic Drum Beats 6 10

Finally, here's a few more drum beats for you to play around with:


Acoustic Drum Beats 10

2.Acoustic Drum Beats 11

3.Acoustic Drum Beats 12


For the Serious Player

We've only played the 'drum hits' on the down strums in this lesson but you can of course play them on the up strums too. We're not going to get into it here but it's certainly something you want to work towards being able to do.

This is considerably more complicated to master but well worth the effort. Just think about all the possible drum beats you could play if you could comfortably strike the bass/snare on any strum - there's virtually countless possibilities.

If you can get your head around that and you're willing to practise, then I can say with confidence that you're on to something pretty damn cool. 

I hope you've enjoyed this lesson. Feel free to ask me any question that you may have in the comment section below.

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  1. Chris left a comment on 28th July 2019 at 6:03 am

    Hi dude

    Just like to say great content, and is there any chance you would be making any more Ben Howard tutorials possibly Everything or Under the same sun.

    • Six String Fingerpicking left a comment on 29th July 2019 at 6:42 pm

      Thanks Chris, glad you like it. I’ll get back to teaching songs in time and eventually happy to do some more Ben Howard. Although transcribing his work is always really hard because he’s always in alter tunings and he’s got a really unorthodox style. Great player though!

  2. Mike Jones left a comment on 6th August 2019 at 5:15 pm

    I really enjoyed your lesson on drum beats. I`m recently retired and I have a little more time to spend on my guitar.I`m an intermediate player in a rut your lessons helped me move on a little with new enthusiasm.Looking forward to more.Thanks

    • Six String Fingerpicking left a comment on 9th August 2019 at 11:10 am

      Thanks Mike, I’m really pleased to have helped you out.

  3. Jacky left a comment on 16th March 2020 at 8:26 am

    Hi – thanks for the great resource!

    2 questions:

    1. How do you avoid the right arm deltoid/shoulder from becoming contracted and tired? Can’t seem to be able to do longer than 1 minute doing this kind of repeated bass/snare motion.

    2. How do you avoid the right index finger – the fleshy part after the nails – from being wrecked or bleeding as a result of that strum down? Would you simply put the index finger from string 5 (so that it has to contact with the nail first before the flesh)?

    Thanks again!

    • Six String Fingerpicking left a comment on 19th March 2020 at 1:26 pm

      Hi Jacky, everybody gets aching in the arm when first learning this technique. The trick is to just not over do it, eventually you will find the sweet spot and it won’t ache anymore.

      I’ve never experienced any form of bleeding personally, maybe you’re just whacking the strings too aggressively! without seeing what you’re actually doing I can’t really advise any further I’m afraid.

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