Funk Drum Beats: Beyond Soul Vaccination’s Verse Groove

Funk Drum Beats: Beyond Soul Vaccination’s Verse Groove

So here’s a quick drum lesson about creative funk drum beats. We’ll be using David Garibaldi’s Soul Vaccination groove as a template. You can download the free PDF below!

I’ve been knee deep in funk recently, listening to and learning loads of Tower of Power songs. The band’s drummer, David Garibaldi, is quickly becoming one of my all-time faves.

Now, I previously posted a quick drum lesson discussing how we can work on our left hand technique using Soul Vaccination’s funk drum beats. In this lesson, we’re going to take that further!



The idea behind this lesson came to me whilst doing some snare accent permutation exercises. I was using the song’s verse groove as a template, permuting snare accents in different places. In doing so, I came up with a few interesting variations. It wasn’t until I played the snare accent on beat 3 (see figure 1), which gave me cool a half-time feel, which sparked my inspiration!

funk drum beats

Figure 1.

I then decided to experiment with this new half time version of the funk drum beat. So I proceeded to embellish the beat with further accents, doing so without ever diverging from the original groove’s snare rhythms.

The idea here is for you to take some of the variations I’ve come up with, and then just create your own. My book Concepts discusses this and other ideas to get more out of your drumming; check it out!

Anyhow, the philosophy here is that there are no rules when it comes to creativity. For me, I just stumbled upon this by using the original groove as a template.



Below are some helpful tips to make your beats groove hard. You can also check out my drum lessons if you’d like more tips and ideas!



If possible, set your metronome to sound like a cowbell. Why? Because the cowbell is a musical instrument, we can aim to make it become part of the groove. And that will help your overall feel.

funk drum beats



These are very important here. Aim to keep your ghost notes low to the snare, and use rim shots to help make the backbeat pop. Rim shots will help the backbeat more effortless.



Pay attention to the interplay between the snare and hi hats. Listen to each “melody” individually, and then together.  This will help your understanding of the groove!



Sheila E. explained what makes a groove funky. To her is the ghost notes in between that give the beat more groove and swing, but don’t get in the way of the backbeat or the song.

So the big takeaway here is that I came up with this by permuting snare accents. My next goal is to permute bass drums whilst my hands play the original pattern. I’m looking forward to seeing where that takes me! Like I said, there are no rules, just go down the rabbit hole and enjoy getting lost in it.




I hope you find this funk drum beats lesson useful and fun! And speaking of fun, check out my pillowcase practice pad, which is a great, functional gift for drummers. It’s called CHOPZzz, and you can learn about it here.

Nick 🙂