The “money beat” is one of the first beats or grooves you’ll learn on the drum kit. It’s one of the foundational rhythms for many different drums grooves in many styles of music. Its simplicity and ease to play on the kit will allow you to play literally 100s of songs quickly on the drums.
The money beat uses 3 instruments on the drum kit. The most basic of these is a hi-hat, bass drum and snare combination. The hi-hats are played consistently throughout the beat. And the bass drum and snare drum are used to create tension and release at even intervals between each other. Its simplicity and repetition make it easy for everyone to anticipate where the tension and release happen.
Why is it called the “money beat”?
It’s not actually called the ‘money beat’ but many drummers do refer to it as that. And that’s because it’s been used on so many songs and albums. It has literally made a lot and lots of money for music producers, artists and labels around the world. You can hear it used everywhere on records from pop, rock, country, heavy metal, and other genres.
From the drummer’s perspective, it’s an easy groove that you can add to play with many songs very well. But don’t let the simplicity of this groove fool you. It’s not easy to make the groove feel great or phrase musically. Beginners and non-drummers can learn this groove in about two minutes, but to get this beat really grooving to a song or with a band can take years of practice and hard work.
Where can I hear the money beat being used?
The money beat comes in different all sorts of shapes, sizes, and tempos. It’s so versatile because there are so many subtle ways it can be used or manipulated to sound interesting and different, even though it’s been used on 100s of songs.
Some of the factors used are the drummer, the drum kit, the drum skins, the sticks, the producer, the microphones used, the mixing, programmed drums, effects, eq, and many others.
Here’s a Spotify playlist of a collection of songs that use the money beat:
Below you’ll also find some videos examples of the ‘money beat’.
“Billy Jean” – Micheal Jackson – Drummer – Leon Ndugu Chancler
This is possibly one of the most famous uses of the ‘money beat’. And is one that I use in my lessons for beginners (Often slowed down) As this version of the ‘money groove is quite fast. It was played by the great Leon Ndugu Chancler.
The hi-hat pattern follows the bass pattern throughout the song. Whilst the bass and snare are consistently driving the song along. What makes this groove sound different from other money beats is the crispness of the drums and how the reverb is so subtle yet adds character and space to the drum mix.
Percussion instruments are also subtly added to keep the listener interested throughout the different sections of the song. See if you can hear them.
“Highway to Hell” – AC/DC – Drummer – Phil Rudd
Phil Rudd and AC/DC use a lot of simple grooves in their songs including the ‘money beat’ and Hells Bells is a great example of this. This song needs the driving beat to keep it moving. With the occasional stabs and accents played in time with the guitars on the crash cymbals.
“Help” – The Beatles – Drummer – Ringo Star
Ringo plays with a swung shuffled hi-hat pattern. The drums on these early Beatles recordings are not out front or even very clear (except for maybe the snare drum 🥁), These older recordings can often be very hard to make out all the intricate notes in the drum patterns.
“Enter Sandman” – Metallica – Drummer – Lars Ulrich
This is a great example of the ‘money beat’ supporting a song. Lars Ulrich played trashy hats on all of the eighth notes (quavers) and no bass drum variations, with the exception of the occasional fill. If he had decided to overplay his parts on the bass drum or snare, it could have been overkill. Why? Because the driving and heavy guitars and rhythmic bass line are already supporting the rhythm and interest of this epic metal classic, the drums only make the song better through simplicity.