Three Basic Latin Beats to Cover Your Ass

I frequently talk about Latin styles and specific drum set beats you should use. 1. Cha Cha 2. Bossa Nova 3. Mambo 4. Salsa Cascara 5. Salsa Campana 6. Samba 7. Songo 8. Bembe 9. Conga and Mozambique 10. Beguine, Bomba, Bolero, Guaguanco, Merengue and Rumba 11. Calypso, Soca, Reggae and Ska

But for the drummer new to playing Latin style music or you have no idea what type of song it is, there is one pattern you can play with your hands ALONG with 3 possible patterns you can play with your feet. I believe these Three Basic Latin Beats to Cover Your Ass can get you through almost any Latin tune without embarrassing yourself or anybody getting hurt.


For the hands I play: 1) a Brazilian Samba ride pattern which also imitates an Afro Cuban Guiro or Salsa-Campana  Bell pattern on a hi-hat, Cowbell, ride cymbal or cymbal bell and 2) A basic Conga pattern on snare drum (cross stick click) and rack tom:

Basic Samba Ride and Conga Pattern

Next comes adding the feet. The hi-hat will frequently close on 2 and 4. If you play the Samba ride pattern on the hi-hat, it imitates the long (open) and short (closed) strokes on a Guiro. For the bass pattern you will have to listen to the bass player (assuming they have a clue) or look at the bass part to figure out which one to use. In my experience, it likely will be one of the 3 listed below:

#1 Brazilian Samba/Bossa Nova Bass Pattern:

Brazilian Samba Bass Pattern

Option – If you need to play the Samba Bass cleanly simplify it with:

Simple Samba Bass Drum Pattern

#2 Afro Cuban Salsa Style Bass Pattern:

Afro Cuban Latin Bass Pattern

#3 Beguine Style Bass Pattern:

Latin Beguine Style Bass Pattern

I know Latin “purists” will criticize this post for its simplicity. But I also suspect that some drummers will like this post because of its simplicity. I have found that the hands pattern can work for just about ALL Latin styles. And then listen closely to the bass player (always good advice) to select a pattern which will match the music. Hey, sometimes we have to do what we can with what we’ve got. Now it remains my hope that you will continue to develop drumming patterns specific to each Latin style. There are several detailed posts you can find here. But until then…

You may also want to see: Drums and Bass Relationship