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Carter Beauford (Drummer Profile) – A Powerhouse Name in the Music Industry

Carter Beauford has been listed in several polls over the years as one of the best drummers in the world. He has an incredible ability to make drumming sound very musical, and his work with Dave Matthews is what put him on the map. 

He’s a massive inspiration to drummers. Especially ones that play in an open-handed style. If you’ve never heard of Carter Beauford before, read through all our points here to find out a bit more about him.

Notable For

  • Drummer and an original member of The Dave Matthews Band 
  • Proficient drummer in multiple styles of music 
  • Plays open-handed and is ambidextrous 
  • Wears drumming gloves often 
  • Often regarded as one of the best drummers


Carter Beauford saw Buddy Rich play live when he was a young child, and he decided to be a drummer from that point. His dad bought him a drum set, and the rest is history. 

He was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, and all his earliest influences were popular jazz drummers. Apart from Buddy Rich, he also looked up to Jo Jones and Tony Williams. However, Buddy Rich was always his biggest influence. 

He even tried to emulate Buddy Rich’s playing as a kid, but he ended up setting his drum kit in reverse to mirror his playing, and that’s how he unintentionally became ambidextrous.

As an adult, Carter Beauford has mainly been the drummer for the Dave Matthews Band, but he’s performed with a few other artists and projects throughout his drumming career.

Notable Artists That Drummer Carter Beauford Has Played With

Dave Matthews Band

Carter Beauford has been part of the Dave Matthews Band since 1991, when the band was first formed. Dave Matthews regularly saw Carter playing drums with another group, and he approached him about playing together

The band they formed became massive after that, and they’ve since sold millions of concert tickets and albums

The best thing about the Dave Matthews Band is the way the music changes at every live gig that they play. The band is full of top-level musicians, and they regularly improvise new parts when performing.


Secrets was the band that Carter Beauford was playing for before he was approached by Dave Matthews. It was a jazz group that included a few musicians that Carter had known for years

LeRoi Moore was the most notable member of the group, as he was also a founding member of the Dave Matthews Band.

The band wasn’t very well-known, and they just performed regularly at pubs and clubs.

Carlos Santana

Beauford has performed a few times with Carlos Santana. Some have been by himself, while others have been with Dave Matthews. 

Both Carter Beauford and Carlos Santana are huge names that got very popular in the 80s and 90s. Beauford’s musical drumming style fits very well with the type of music that Santana plays.

Victor Wooten

Victor Wooten and Carter Beauford are very good friends, and Victor Wooten is one of the best bass players in the world.

They’ve known each other since they were kids, and Carter has tracked drums for a few of Victor Wooten’s albums

They’ve also released an educational DVD together where they both discuss how they approach playing music.

Drumming Style

The most distinct aspect of Carter Beauford’s drumming style is that he plays open-handed. This arguably added to his popularity in the early years, as the only big drummer to also play like this at the time was Billy Cobham. 

Carter is also completely ambidextrous, so he plays close-handed a lot of the time as well. The combination of these two playing styles allows him to play unique patterns on the drums that most drummers don’t think to play. 

He’s incredibly versatile as well. He holds it down brilliantly in a jazz group, but his rock drumming is fantastic too. 

The final thing to mention is that he often wears gloves when he plays. Most drummers who wear gloves are metal drummers, but Carter shows that you can wear them for any style. 

A lot of drummers look down on drummers that wear gloves, but the fact that the great Carter Beauford wears them kind of counteracts that notion.


Carter Beauford always plays Yamaha drums, Zildjian cymbals, and LP Percussion.

His drum kit setup is typically very large, especially when he plays with Dave Matthews. He always has several rack toms and over a dozen cymbals around his kit. 

You’ll mostly see him using a Recording Custom kit from Yamaha, and his cymbals are a combination of As and Ks from Zildjian.

Notable Performances

#41 in the Studio

This clip shows Carter Beauford playing all the drum parts for a Dave Matthews Band song called #41

It gives a focused view of everything he plays, allowing you to see just how proficient he is at what he does. 

It also helps that the sound quality here is fantastic. 

Carter Beauford - #41 (Studio)

So Much To Say Live 

Here’s another focused view of Carter Beauford playing the drum parts for a Dave Matthews Band song, but this time it’s in a live performance

The other thing you’ll see with this video is that Carter Beauford provides a lot of the backing vocals for the band. It’s crazy to see how he can sing such good harmonies while keeping it locked behind the drum kit. 

Zildjian Performance - Carter Beauford plays "So Much To Say"

GoPro Drum Solo

This clip shows Carter Beauford ripping a solo around the drum kit. You get to see it from his perspective, which makes the video a lot more interesting. 

He regularly plays drum solos with the Dave Matthews Band, but it’s great to see him playing an open solo without any musical context surrounding it. 

GoPro Music: Dave Matthews Band's Carter Beauford Drum Solo

Zynergy with Victor Wooten

Here’s one of the clips of Carter Beauford playing with Victor Wooten. They’re both incredibly solid players, and it’s exciting to see how well they gel together.

It’s also great to see Carter playing in a setting that isn’t related to the Dave Matthews Band. That band is his main thing, but seeing him play with other musicians is awesome. 

Victor Wooten and Carter Beauford: "Zynergy"

Final Thoughts on Carter Beauford

Carter Beauford has been a major influence on thousands of drummers who loved rock music in the 80s and 90s. His drumming has always been so musical, but it’s his creative pattern ideas that have made him stand out in a crowd of top-tier drummers. 

If you loved the clips that we shared here, then you should listen to all of the Dave Matthews Band albums. When you’ve done that, find live versions of all those songs. You’ll always hear something different from Carter and the band.