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Drum Fills for Beginners

Learn How to Play 10 Essential Fills on the Drums

Last Updated: December 2023 | 1519 words (7 – 9 minute read)

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Let’s be real – learning how to do drum fills is the funnest part of drumming, hands down.

So in this guide we’re going to show you the most essential drum fills for beginners, in an easy to read way. You don’t need to know how to read drum notation for this guide, we’ll show you with simple charts.

If you’re brand new to playing the drums make sure you check out our beginner’s guide first.

Try to master each of the fills below by playing a short groove for 1-3 bars and then transitioning into the fill, rather than just playing the fill on it’s own.

Often beginner’s find the transition from beat to fill the hardest part about playing fills. Practicing in this way will help overcome that.

Let’s get right into these basic drum fills…


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How to Read the Charts

The charts below have a few different sections:

The first line is the count line. Columns represent counts or beats of musical time, or subdivisions of a beat – “1, 2, 3, 4” or “1-e-&-a”.

Grooves have 4 beats per measure/bar. The groove will be shown for 1 bar of music.

The left column is the drum type you need to hit. It’s usually always going to be in this order (top down) – hi-hat/cymbal, high tom, middle tom, floor tom, snare drum, kick/bass drum.

It should be noted that the ride cymbal can be used instead of the hi-hat with any of the following grooves.

The X on the chart indicates when to strike the drum. If you see an xX that means to play a flam on the drum.

The letter X will correspond to a count number and a drum type. The “-” symbol indicates that you should not hit the drum on that particular count.

Basic 8th Note Fill

1&2&3&4&1&2&3&4&
Hi-HatXXXXXXXX
High TomXX
Middle TomXX
Floor Tom
Snare DrumXXXXXX
Kick DrumXX

This is your most basic drum fill – it starts with your basic rock groove for a bar. It then plays eighth notes starting on the snare for 2 full counts, moving to the high tom for 1 count and then ending on the middle tom for one full count.

8th Note Build Up

1&2&3&4&1&2&3&4&
Hi-HatXXXXXXXX
High Tom
Middle Tom
Floor TomXXXXXXXX
Snare DrumXXXXXXXXXX
Kick DrumXXXXXX

This next fill is a great one to use at the end of a song section and basically just has you playing the snare drum and floor tom at the same time with 8th notes. If you want to get fancy, add quarter notes on the kick drum while doing the fill for a nice weighty anchor.

Another thing you want to try and develop is a sense of dynamics – try playing the snare and floor tom softly at first, and gradually get louder throughout the fill.

Around the World

1&2&3&4&1&2&3&4&
Hi-HatXXXXXXXX
High TomXX
Middle TomXX
Floor TomXX
Snare DrumXXXX
Kick DrumXX

This drum fill is a favorite of a lot of beginners because it integrates all of the drum heads during the fill in an easy way that still sounds great. You’re plyaing eigth notes – 2 on each drum head, starting with the snare and ending on the floor tom. It’s called Around the World because you’re basically going around the entire drum set during the fill.

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8th Note Flam Rock Fill

1&2&3&4&1&2&3&4&
Hi-HatXXXXXXXX
High Tom
Middle Tom
Floor Tom
Snare DrumXXxXxXxXxX
Kick DrumXXXXXX

This is a drum fill you’ll hear a lot in rock music – it’s basically alternating between a flam on the snare drum and the kick drum using eighth notes.

Watch out for the transition from the fill back into the groove, it can trip you up. Take it slow to start with and you’ll get it down faster.


The fills below use some 16th notes. To save for space, we’re going to ditch the groove at the beginning of the chart – so below, you’ll see only the drum fill itself.

You should still add the basic groove from the charts above to the beginning of these 1 bar fills to continue practicing the transition from groove to fill and back.

16th Note Around the World

1e&a2e&a3e&a4e&a
Hi-Hat
High TomXXXX
Middle TomXXXX
Floor TomXXXX
Snare DrumXXXX
Kick Drum

This is the exact same fill as the “Around the World” above, but using 16th notes instead of 8th notes.

Nuff said

16th Note Snares

1e&a2e&a3e&a4e&a
Hi-Hat
High Tom
Middle Tom
Floor Tom
Snare DrumXxxxXxxxXxxxXxxx
Kick Drum

This is a relatively simple drum fill that can sound amazing if executed properly. You’re playing straight 16th notes on the snare drum, but you want to make sure you accent the first drum strike of each beat. That’s why you’ll notice the first hit of the beat is an X while the rest are x’s.

Broken Sixteenth Snares

1e&a2e&a3e&a4e&a
Hi-Hat
High Tom
Middle Tom
Floor Tom
Snare DrumXxxXxxXxxXxx
Kick Drum

This is a similar fill to the one above, but we’re removing on the of the drum hits. This gives you an interesting cadence and makes a great fill to help you hone your chops and timing.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Drum Fill?

A drum fill is a small portion of a section of music that provides variety to the steady rhythm of a song. A drum fill is like a mini drum-solo that can help add interest to a groove or help transition between different sections of a song.

When Do You Use Drum Fills?

Drum fills are used most often at the end of a musical measure or the end of a musical section to add variety to the rhythm and assist in making the transition points of a song more effective. However drum fills don’t only have to be used as transitions, they can add a bit of spice at any point within a groove.

How Do You Get Better at Drum Fills?

To get better at drum fills it’s best to slow down your playing to turtle speed. Don’t even use a metronome. Play the groove and fill extremely slow for a few times so your brain gets used to the transition between the patterns (groove vs. fill). Once you can play the transition smoothly without a metronome and at a slow speed, gradually speed it up and finally try using a metronome.

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    Final Thoughts

    Although the above beginner drum fills may seem simple at first glance, they are often the bread and butter of drumming.

    That’s because these basic fills can be varied in infinite ways to add more complexity or variety. You just take the basic fill and move around the spaces or move the fill around to different drums.

    If you can master these fills, you’ll be off to a great start in being able to play much more advanced ones.

    If you’re having trouble with any of the fills, just slow everything down to turtle speed. And then gradually speed up as you get better and better.

    And don’t forget to practice the actual transition from groove to drum fill and back to groove again. That’s so important.

    If you really want to level up your drumming, I highly recommend you use a drum practice/training app like Melodics – you’ll improve your rhythm and groove whether you use electronic/acoustic drums or want to finger drum.

    Thanks for reading this guide on how to play drum fills for beginners! I hope it was helpful.

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    About The Author:

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    Omar Zulfi

    Omar Zulfi is a music producer, rapper, singer, songwriter and digital entrepreneur. He is the founder and head writer at Deviant Noise. Learn more about what he's doing by clicking here.