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Train Beat

Learn to play the Train Beat on Drums!

The Train Beat gets it’s name as a result of it basically sounding like a train going down the track. It has been around for many years and should be considered one of the essential drum beats to be learned by all drummers. It’s roots go as far back as Johnny Cash’s, "Folsom Prison Blues" and beyond. While it can be heard mostly in country music, it also spans the styles of rock, pop, bluegrass, rockabilly, and others.

 

How to play it on the Snare Drum:

It’s one of the simplest beats to learn on drums but a bit more challenging to execute with finesse. Simply take
a 2/4 bar and play 16th notes on the snare drum hand to hand (RLRL), counting "1 e and ah, 2 e and ah".
Then put the bass drum on beats 1 and 2, and accent the snare beats on the "and" of 1 and the "and" of 2.
(The following exercise also shows an alternative accent on the "ah" of 2.)

 

train.jpg (22530 bytes)
The Train Beat
The HH can be played with your foot on the
"and" of beats 1 and 2, or on all eighth notes.

Pro Drummer Tommy Harden talks about the Train Beat

train-beat-video-tommy-harden

Many drummers play this beat with wire brushes, plastic brushes (Blasticks), or Promark’s Hot Rod’s on snare drum.
Also, many play the train beat with a slight "edge" to it (just short of rushing it a bit). This gives it a forward
momentum and will sometimes drive the tune a bit better.

 

Variations:

You can play the train beat with doubles, paradiddles, or all with the right hand while the left plays the backbeat. You can also add a "bounce" to it and essentially play it with swing eighths. (Common in rockabilly tunes) This will then become a basic shuffle played on the snare drum.

 

Examples (Songs)

The Devil went down to Georgia – Charlie Daniels
Country Boy - Ricky Skaggs
On the road again – Willie Nelson
Petticoat Junction – TV show
Last train home – Pat Metheny
Two Step – Dave Mathews Band
Gallows Pole -Led Zeppelin
Train Time - Cream
Trouble on the Line - Sawyer Brown
Train Kept a' Rolling - Aerosmith

 

Resources: 

Video: Country Drumming (Volume I) Charles Eaton (93-DJR-60) $29.95
This video covers the basics of country drumming. Charles demonstrates how to do the
" train beat", the country shuffle, two beat, etc. on drums.

* If you have anything to add to our train beat page, please let us know.
We welcome feedback, variations, interpretations, and any external drum resources.



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Now you know how to play the train beat on snare drum!


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