For some people thinking about reggae drums is like thinking about ancient Greek.They have no clue about the One Drop, Steppers or the Rockers reggae drum beat.
Reggae drummers often involved these three tips for other reggae performers: (1) go for open, ringing tones when playing ska and rocksteady, (2) use any available material to stuff the bass drum so that it tightens up the kick to a deep, punchy thud, and (3) go without a ride cymbal, focusing on the hi-hat for timekeeping and thin crashes with. The rockers rhythm is essentially the one drop with a steady bass drum on every eighth note, though one drop is slower than a ska pattern, and rockers is often slower than one drop. The steppers rhythm is essentially the one drop with a steady bass drum on every quarter note. Reggae drummers often involved these three tips for other reggae performers: (1) go for open, ringing tones when playing ska and rocksteady, (2) use any available material to stuff the bass drum so that it tightens up the kick to a deep, punchy thud, and (3) go without a ride cymbal, focusing on the hi-hat for timekeeping and thin crashes with.
The first thing you need to know about reggae drums is that, almost any drum kit can be used to play reggae drum beats.The make of the drum does not matter that much, as long as, it is of good quality.Acoustic reggae drum kits are much more desirable but I have seen the drummer in Roots Riddick band and many others including Sly Dunbar, play an electronic kit.Keep in mind that the Snare should be tuned very high, to allow it to cut through the mix.
The thing that confuses most people about reggae drums is the One Drop reggae drum beat.Believe it or not this is an incredibly simple technique.By most accounts, it was developed by Carlton Barrett from the Wailers, although some say Winston Grennan is to be accredited for it.It was made popular by other reggae drummers over the years.
The name One Drop was given because the bass drum is emphasized on the 3rd beat of the musical bar.This is all you really need to remember when playing the One Drop reggae drum beat.The Hi-Hat, Tom-tom and Snares all comes into play at some point but, they are added to taste.Again, remember to kick the bass drum on the 3rd beat. Listen to Bob Marley’s One Drop song for more.
If you want your reggae drums to sound sweet and lively then, the Steppers reggae drum beat must become apart of your repertoire.Like the One Drop technique this is not very hard.All it entails is kicking the bass drum on all 4 beats of a musical bar and adding your signature fills to taste.
For a more modern reggae drum beat you need to become familiar with the Rockers drum beat made popular by Sly Dunbar.By now you should realize that reggae drums are defined mostly by the emphasis of the bass drum.
So unlike the One Drop and the Steppers, the Rockers reggae drum beat is slightly more difficult to play.With this technique the emphasis is also on the first beat of the musical bar and not just the 3rd.The best to way to play it is to create a bass drum pattern with major emphasis on beat one and three.Remember that the syncopations vary with this reggae drum beat to accommodate modern playing.
Reggae Drum Beat 74
The Rockers reggae drum technique is the precursor to the Dancehall reggae drum beat.You can see why, in almost all Dancehall beats the bass drum is emphasized on the 3rd and 4th beats.In essence, Rockers played fast will give a driving Dancehall beat.
If you are serious about your reggae drums, then you will need to study the works of Carlton Barett of the Wialers, Winston Crennan, Sly Dunbar, Dyrol Randall. There is also dude on YouTube called Gil Sharone he is really good and he is not even from Jamaica but he has the vibe and the feel, check him out too. Click this link for more on reggae drums and other reggae instruments
Reggae Drum Beat Tutorial