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The 12 Best Dave Grohl Drum Beats

Brandon Toews  /  UPDATED May 21, 2023

Dave Grohl has written so many epic drum beats over the years, it’s tough to have a conversation about memorable grooves without mentioning his name. He really is one of the top drummers of all time.

That’s why we’ve put together a video breaking down 12 of his must-know drum beats. You can probably guess a few of them, but you might also find a few obscure surprises.

Whether you’re a rock drummer or just a fan of Grohl’s work with Nirvana, Foo Fighters and Queens Of The Stone Age, if you’ve got a hankering for fun and interesting beats to play, this video should scratch the itch.

1. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Nirvana

Yep – you guessed it – this one had to make the list. This song is the opening track from Nirvana’s 1991 release, Nevermind, and one of the band’s most popular songs. This beat is a go-to for beginner drummers and beyond. Hit that crash on beat 1 and the hi-hat on the other quarter notes. Take the syncopated kicks and 16th note snare hits to the next level by infusing as much power and energy into it as Grohl did.

smells like teen spirit drums

Click here for a breakdown of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for drummers of all levels.

2. “My Hero” – Foo Fighters

Almost as recognizable as the beat in “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, Dave Grohl recorded this beat, which Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins played live for the duration of his career with the band. This is the chorus groove, featuring lots of flams on the backbeats and double stops on the toms.

my hero drums

3. “Scentless Apprentice” – Nirvana

This intro often goes under the radar, but it’s classic Dave Grohl. You’ll find this track on Nirvana’s album In Utero. Watch for the open hi-hats in bars 1 and 3, the groups of 4 bass drum strokes in bars 2 and 4, and those flams in measures 1 and 3.

scentless apprentice drums

4. “The Metal” – Tenacious D

You’ll find this cool ride groove on Tenacious D’s album The Pick Of Destiny. With floor tom fills and a cymbal choke halfway through, it’s definitely a great groove.

the metal tenacious d drums

5. “All Apologies” – Nirvana

This simple groove is a four bar phrase that’s notable because of how it’s played so musically in the context of the song.

all apologies nirvana drums

6. “Song For The Deaf” – Queens Of The Stone Age

The title track from the QOTSA album Songs For The Deaf features this 8 bar phrase in the verse section. It’s in 3/4 time and has cool displaced figures on the kick drum to give it a unique feel.

song for the deaf drums

7. “Elephants” – Them Crooked Vultures

In this verse groove, you’ll notice an open-handed pattern (with the left hand on the hi-hat and the right hand on the floor tom) where the backbeats are played with flams on the snare drum. There’s definitely a disco influence here, which Dave Grohl has said was a huge inspiration for his drumming.

elephants drums

8. “In Bloom” – Nirvana

Nope – this isn’t the classic drum intro. We wanted to highlight the verse groove here. Check out the 16th note kicks on the 1e and the 2e.

in bloom drums

9. “Everlong” – Foo Fighters

We couldn’t have a Dave Grohl groove list without “Everlong”. While the chorus is 50% fills (click here to learn the chorus from Everlong), it’s the verse groove that deserves recognition. It takes a lot of endurance to maintain those fast 16th notes on the hi-hats!

everlong drums

10. “Implant” – Killing Joke

This one’s a deep cut from an album Grohl recorded in 2002, and not many people know he appears on this album. It’s in 3/4 time, and we really like that fast syncopated groove at the beginning.

implant killing joke drums

11. “First It Giveth” – Queens Of The Stone Age

Like Tenacious D’s “The Metal”, we think you’ll like the conversation happening between the snare and kick. Straight forward, but interesting!

first it giveth drums

12. “Reptiles” – Them Crooked Vultures

We saved a tough one for last. There’s lots of bass drum action in this one. It’s a 12 bar phrase at the beginning of the song with over the bar line rhythms that might throw you off (so learn it slowly). The kick groupings can be challenging to play up to tempo.

reptiles drums

That’s it for Dave Grohl’s signature drum grooves. For more Grohl gold, check out this video, 7 Reasons Why Dave Grohl Is A Drumming Genius!

Brandon Toews is an author, educator, and performer based out of Vancouver, Canada. Brandon is the author of The Drummer's Toolbox, co-author of The Best Beginner Drum Book, and the Content Director at Musora, home to the award-winning online music education platforms Drumeo, Pianote, Guitareo and Singeo.

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