Dave Matthews Drummer – Carter Beauford

October 18, 2023

When you think of the iconic sound of the Dave Matthews Band, it’s impossible not to recognize the distinct beats of their drummer, Carter Beauford. 

This Virginia-born percussionist has not only set the rhythm for the band but has also become one of the most influential drummers of his generation.

Carter’s unique style, blending jazz, funk, and rock, has made him a standout figure in the world of drumming. With his ambidextrous, open-handed technique and infectious energy, he’s been the heartbeat of the band since its inception.

Curious to know more about the man behind the drum kit? Dive in as we explore the life, legacy, and beats of the Dave Matthews drummer Carter Beauford.

Carter Beauford – Dave Matthews Drummer

Early Life

Born on November 2, 1957, in Charlottesville, Virginia, Carter Beauford was destined for rhythm. By the age of three, he was already entranced by the beats of the drums, having been inspired by the likes of Buddy Rich and other drumming legends. His father took notice and bought him his first drum kit, setting the stage for a lifelong passion.


Carter’s professional journey began with a local band called Secrets, where he honed his skills and developed a unique style. But it was in 1991 that his path crossed with Dave Matthews, leading to the formation of the Dave Matthews Band. 

Their collaboration would go on to produce hits like “Ants Marching” and “Crash Into Me”, with Carter’s intricate rhythms playing a pivotal role.

His two open-handed techniques, a rarity in the drumming world, set him apart. This, combined with his ability to blend jazz, funk, and rock, made him an indispensable part of the band’s signature sound.

Carter’s influence extends beyond just the Dave Matthews Band. He’s been featured in numerous drumming magazines, conducted workshops, and inspired countless budding drummers with his innovative techniques and infectious energy.

Notable Performances

“Live at Central Park” (2003)  

One of the most iconic performances of the Dave Matthews Band, with Carter’s drumming taking center stage. Over 120,000 fans witnessed the magic that evening, with tracks like “Two Step” and “Warehouse” showcasing Beauford’s impeccable rhythm and technique.

“Listener Supported” (1999)

Recorded live at the Continental Airlines Arena, this performance was later released as a live album and DVD. Carter’s drum solo in “#41” remains a standout moment, demonstrating his mastery over the drum kit.

Outside the band, Carter’s performance at the Modern Drummer Festival (2000) was a testament to his versatility and prowess. His solo sessions, blending various genres, left the audience in awe.

Notable Collaborations

While Carter Beauford is best known for his work with the Dave Matthews Band, his talent has been sought after by other artists as well.

Carlos Santana

Carter collaborated with this legendary guitarist on the track “Love of My Life,” blending Latin rhythms with his signature style.

Victor Wooten

A renowned bassist, Wooten teamed up with Carter for several projects, creating a perfect harmony between bass and drums.

Tim Reynolds

Though Tim is a regular collaborator with the Dave Matthews Band, Carter and Tim have had their own jam sessions, resulting in some mesmerizing acoustic and rhythmic blends.

Awards & Accolades

In 2003, the Modern Drummer Readers Poll honored him as the Best Pop Drummer. The same year, his exceptional performance with the Dave Matthews Band at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colorado, was recognized as the Best Recorded Performance.


With Dave Matthews Band

  • “Under the Table and Dreaming” (1994): This was the album that truly put the band on the map. Carter’s drumming was instrumental in defining the band’s unique sound.
  • “Crash” (1996): Another massive hit for the band. Carter’s intricate rhythms and patterns were a standout feature.
  • “Before These Crowded Streets” (1998): Showcasing a deeper, more experimental side of the band, Carter’s drumming versatility shone brightly.
  • “Everyday” (2001) and “Busted Stuff” (2002): These albums further solidified the band’s place in the annals of rock history, with Carter’s drumming being a consistent highlight.

Collaborations Beyond DMB

Carter hasn’t just limited himself to the Dave Matthews Band. He’s lent his drumming prowess to various other projects and artists.

  • Carlos Santana: Carter’s collaboration with this guitar legend resulted in some truly memorable tracks.
  • John Popper: The harmonica virtuoso and Carter created magic together, blending blues with rhythmic complexities.
  • Vertical Horizon: Carter’s drumming added a fresh dimension to the band’s sound, making their tracks even more memorable.
Dave Matthews Drummer

Carter Beauford Drum Kit 


Yamaha Recording Custom

  • 8×7″ Tom
  • 10×7.5″ Tom
  • 12×8″ Tom
  • 14×12″ Tom
  • 16×16″ Floor Tom (Note: Carter’s is 16×15″)
  • 20×16″ Bass Drum
  • Ludwig Alex Van Halen Signature Rosewood Snare
  • Pearl Masterworks Rosewood Snare
  • Pork Pie Mahogany 10×7″ Side Snare (Note: The one mentioned is a 10×7″ Pork Pie Walnut)
  • Tama SLP Duo Snare (14×10″) – can function as both a tom and a snare.

Pedals and Hardware

  • DW 9000 Pedals
  • Upgraded Double Pedal Shaft – Machined USA
  • DW Machine Drive Pedals (mentioned as a preference)


  • Zildjian Cymbals
  • 16″ A Custom EFX
  • 20″ A Custom Flat Ride with 6″ A Custom Splash on top
  • 22″ K Custom Medium Ride
  • 19″ An Ultra Hammer China
  • 14″ A New Beat Hi-Hats
  • 8″ K Splash with 6″ Zilbel and Chinese Wedding Bell on top
  • 18″ K Dark Medium Thin Crash
  • 19″ K Thin Crash
  • 15″ K Dark Thin Crash
  • 10″ A Custom Splash
  • 6″ A Custom Splash
  • 8″ A Custom Splash
  • 21″ An Ultra Hammered China


  • 13×7″ Timbali (Donette Titanium mentioned, but the one in the text is a Pearl Elite Brass)
  • Travis Barker Signature Cowbell
  • Red Jam Block
  • Whole Tone 72 Bar Chimes
  • Hand Percussion


From an early age, Carter Beauford was drawn to the world of drumming, and several legends left an indelible mark on his musical journey. Buddy Rich, with his impeccable technique and speed, was a significant influence. Additionally, jazz masters such as Tony Williams and Billy Cobham played pivotal roles in shaping Carter’s approach to the drum kit.


Carter Beauford’s drumming style is a harmonious blend of jazz, funk, and rock. What truly sets him apart is his ambidextrous, open-handed technique. This approach allows him to play without crossing his hands, giving him a broader range and more fluid motion on the drum set.

His intricate hi-hat work, combined with explosive fills and impeccable timing, makes his drumming instantly recognizable. Carter’s ability to weave complex patterns while maintaining a groove has made him a standout in the drumming community.

Personal Life

Carter Beauford, beyond his drumming prowess, has a life filled with personal milestones and cherished moments. Carter tied the knot with Karen Beauford. Their union has been a testament to their enduring love and commitment.

The rhythm of family life is evident in Carter’s world. He’s a proud father to two daughters, Brianna and Keara. These young ladies have undoubtedly inherited some of their father’s passion and zest for life.

While Carter’s life on stage is well-documented, he’s always maintained a level of privacy about his personal life. This speaks volumes about his character, valuing the sanctity of family and personal moments.


What unique drumming technique is Carter Beauford known for?

Carter Beauford is renowned for his open-handed drumming technique. Instead of crossing his hands when playing the hi-hat and snare (as many drummers do), he keeps them uncrossed, leading to a more fluid and versatile drumming style.

Has Carter Beauford collaborated with artists outside of the Dave Matthews Band?

Yes, while Carter is best known for his work with the Dave Matthews Band, he has also collaborated with various artists, including Carlos Santana, John Popper, and Vertical Horizon, showcasing his versatility and adaptability across genres.

What kind of drumsticks does Carter Beauford use?

Carter Beauford uses his signature series of drumsticks made by Vic Firth. They are designed to his specifications, ensuring optimal performance and comfort during his dynamic performances.

Denis Loncaric
Denis Loncaric

My name is Denis. I am a drummer, percussionist, music enthusiast, and blogger. Drums have been my passion for 15 years now. My idea is to write about the things I like and I am interested in. I want to share my drum passion with fellow musicians who walk, talk, and breathe drums.

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