DRUM! Magazine https://drummagazine.com Play Better Now Fri, 04 Dec 2020 22:50:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.3 115209015 beyerdynamic Introduces Touring Gear TG I51 Mic https://drummagazine.com/beyerdynamic-introduces-touring-gear-tg-i51-mic/ Sat, 05 Dec 2020 02:00:00 +0000 https://drummagazine.com/?p=19567
Sponsored by beyerdynamic: beyerdynamic has manufactured microphones since 1939 – including the E 800 mic that was produced for the Beatles tour.  The legacy continues with the newly released dynamic TG I51 cardioid instrument mic with natural sound, high quality construction, optimal isolation and feedback resistance. It’s perfect for drum kits, snare drums or floor […]]]>

Sponsored by beyerdynamic:

beyerdynamic has manufactured microphones since 1939 – including the E 800 mic that was produced for the Beatles tour.  The legacy continues with the newly released dynamic TG I51 cardioid instrument mic with natural sound, high quality construction, optimal isolation and feedback resistance. It’s perfect for drum kits, snare drums or floor toms and more!  Photo by Jolie Loren Photography.

Learn More.

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Is This the Fastest ‘Little Drummer Boy’ Ever? https://drummagazine.com/is-this-the-fastest-little-drummer-boy-ever/ Fri, 04 Dec 2020 22:50:05 +0000 https://drummagazine.com/?p=19639
You’d think the drum part in a song called “Little Drummer Boy” would at least be interesting, but traditionally it’s pretty bland. Not anymore. Punk rock versions of holiday staples are nothing new, but here’s a 2020 version that’s got some bite to it. The Myrrhderers (pronounced “Murderers”) are a self-proclaimed “North Pole punk supergoup,” […]]]>

You’d think the drum part in a song called “Little Drummer Boy” would at least be interesting, but traditionally it’s pretty bland. Not anymore. Punk rock versions of holiday staples are nothing new, but here’s a 2020 version that’s got some bite to it.

The Myrrhderers (pronounced “Murderers”) are a self-proclaimed “North Pole punk supergoup,” comprised of members “Al Frankincense (Dead Kringles), Elliott Gold (Prancid), and Bill Myrrhey (Sleigher).” This group has churned out some fun and seriously fast versions of otherwise droll holiday staples. Their debut album, The Myrrhderers Sleigh Christmas, released Nov. 20, is, in their words, “an historic documentation of North Pole underground Christmas culture.”

The follow-up, The Myrrhderers Sleigh Some More, which includes “The Little Drummer Boy” as featured in Corey Ben-Yehuda’s (Useless I.D.) playthrough video above, comes out December 11.

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The Art of Cymbal Striking https://drummagazine.com/the-art-of-cymbal-striking/ Fri, 04 Dec 2020 13:00:00 +0000 https://drummagazine.com/?p=19607
BY WALLY SCHNALLE | PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVE CONSTANTIN No matter how big or small, your drum set is a collection of bangables containing innumerable sonic possibilities. And of all those sounds the one you hit the most is likely the ride cymbal (unless you’re Phil Rudd). So getting the right sound is a big deal. […]]]>

BY WALLY SCHNALLE | PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVE CONSTANTIN

No matter how big or small, your drum set is a collection of bangables containing innumerable sonic possibilities. And of all those sounds the one you hit the most is likely the ride cymbal (unless you’re Phil Rudd). So getting the right sound is a big deal. Whether it’s in jazz where the ride cymbal is forefront, or in a rock setting where the ride pattern is the tasty icing on a powerful groove, it’s important to get the right sound. And of course getting the right sound is important on all the other cymbals in your kit as well.

Equipment has a big say in the equation that results in the sounds you ultimately get. Cymbal thickness, the amount of lathing, bell size, your drumstick weight and tip shape, all have an effect on the resulting sound-creating vibrations after impact. Every cymbal contains oodles of different sounds to explore. But probably an even bigger part of that equation is how you hit it. And though there are an infinite number of ways to strike your cymbals, we will explore the most useful ones here. We’ll start with the all-important ride cymbal.

ANGLE OF ATTACK

Fig. 1

The proper relationship between stick and ride cymbal is pretty important. Wherever your ride cymbal resides in your setup it’s best to have it positioned in a way that when you reach for it your stick is parallel to the playing surface of the cymbal (Fig. 1). This allows for the best response from both the stick and cymbal.

STRIKE ZONES

In most ride patterns you’ll want the sound of the of the stick tip hitting the cymbal to be clear and articulate. The typical “riding zone” for a ride cymbal is midway from the edge to the center or bell of the cymbal (Fig. 2). For best results, play in this zone with the full tip of the stick striking the cymbal. This is where most cymbals will reveal their true character with a bit of an overtone wash and an articulate ride pattern. For a trashier sound, ride closer to the edge (Fig. 3). This will usually result in a greater wash of overtones and a bit lower tone. A ride pattern played closer to the bell (Fig. 4) will typically result in a drier, brighter ride pattern that takes on a bit of the added character of the bell.

Sometimes in a quieter musical environment you’ll want a slightly drier, more articulate-sounding ride pattern. One technique to get a ride pattern with a somewhat reduced wash of overtones is to play in the sweet spot of the cymbal bow, at the half-way point between bell and edge, and play with the angle of the stick. Increasing the angle of the stick so the very tip of the stick is striking the cymbal (Fig. 5) will achieve that goal on many cymbals.

NOT JUST FOR RIDE PATTERNS

Fig. 6

While the bulk of the notes you play on your ride cymbal will be part of a ride pattern, occasionally you will want to use it for a crash sound. To get the cymbal to explode in a burst of overtones use the shoulder of your stick on the edge of the cymbal (Fig. 6). With most ride cymbals you will be able to get back to your ride pattern quickly as the wash of overtones dies down allowing your ride pattern to be heard clearly.

THE BELL

That bump in the middle of the cymbal is referred to as the bell. Its size can have an effect on the character of the cymbal but it has its own character as well. Dry, bright, and articulate, the bell can be played with either the shoulder of the stick (Fig. 7) or the tip (Fig. 8).

The shoulder of the stick will produce a bigger sound when playing the bell. Patterns played on the bell are often syncopated and sometimes involve moving back and forth quickly from the flat of the cymbal to the bell. For these types of patterns play the area just to the left on the bell (the side closer to you). Then, with a flick of the wrist, your stick can easily reach up for the bell without having to move too far (Fig. 9).

INCREASE THE ANGLE

Fig. 10

For crash cymbals, much of your playing will be on the edge of the cymbal for instant response. So you’ll want your crash cymbals a little higher in your setup and a bit flatter than the ride cymbal (Fig. 10). While some drummers set their crashes up completely flat, or parallel to the ground, that can put undue stress on both the cymbal and your sticks.

CRASH ANGLE OF ATTACK

Most cymbal crashes are done with the shoulder of the stick on the edge of the cymbal (Fig. 11). The key here is to get in and out quickly to allow for an explosive crash. If you let your stick linger, the result will be a muted crash (which is also sometimes a desired result). This is also the approach used when riding on the ride cymbal in a loud rock situation, and is known as “wash riding.”

For quieter cymbal “colors,” the tip of the stick is also used on the flat of the crash cymbal at times (Fig. 12). And an important technique is the cymbal swipe (Figs. 13–15). This produces a crash with a softer attack yet a full-bodied sound.

THE RIGHT APPROACH

Sit on your drum throne and bend your right arm to play the hi-hat so that your arm is basically parallel with the ground. Your hi-hat cymbals should be just below the tip of your stick (Fig. 16). This will allow you to hit the cymbals both with the tip and shoulder of your stick with only slight movement up and down in the position of your arm. This is an important technique. Sometimes you play all tip (Fig. 17), sometimes all shoulder (Fig. 18). And a really effective technique used by many drummers is to play alternating between stick tip and shoulder, which gives nice movement and phrasing to your hi-hat pattern.

One of the trashiest ride sounds around is the open hi-hat ride pattern. Here you will definitely want to play with the shoulder of your stick (Fig. 19). Keep the cymbals only slightly open so they interact and give this big-sounding ride approach the most bang for your effort. And don’t overlook the bell on the hi-hat for a cutting, bright, dry sound. The little bell is typically played with the shoulder of the stick (Fig. 20), and to allow for full clearance you’ll want to ensure the wing nut is resting on the far side of the rod.

We should take note that the hi-hat cymbals are not just for hitting with sticks. Your left foot gets into the game, keeping time on the hi-hat or playing any rhythm you want with that familiar chick sound of the hi-hat cymbals colliding tightly together. To get the most out of that chick sound, adjust that little thumb screw on the bottom side of your hi-hat cymbals (Fig. 21) so that the bottom cymbal is tilted a bit. If both cymbals hit together completely flat and parallel, catching an unwanted air pocket, the resulting sound will be small.

SPECIALTY TECHNIQUES

Now that we’ve covered some of the basics, here are a few others approaches that allow for some unique sounds out of your cymbals. Used in the right places, these can add a lot of flavor to your playing. To get a nice glissando sound from your cymbal, take the tip of your stick and place it pointing down on the surface of your cymbal near the bell, then slide it quickly to the edge (Figs. 22–24). You can also get an otherworldly squeal out of your cymbal by placing the tip of the stick in one of the lathing grooves and rotating the cymbal like a record. Hold the stick still with some slight downward pressure and rotate the cymbal slowly with the other hand (Fig. 25). Note that this one works better on some cymbals than others. Also, you can take the shaft of your stick and strike the edge of your cymbal with a loose grip and holding your stick perpendicular to the cymbal (Fig. 26). In many cymbals this produces a clear harmonic ding tone.

The techniques outlined here are only the beginning of a universe of possibilities. Experiment and find the sounds on your cymbals that you like and that fit the music you play. Remember, it’s a creative art form, so whatever rules exist are meant to be broken.

CYMBAL TESTING QUICK TIPS

By Wayne Blanchard

When testing cymbals, don’t tap them with your fingers; strike them with the size of stick you normally use. Finger tapping makes super-thin cymbals sound amazing and anything else above can sound, er, thud-y. Once you find one you like, take it off the display and put it on a stand. Keep it loose, so it moves freely and responds fully—don’t over-tighten or you’ll choke the sound, maybe even kill the cymbal. If it’s a crash, slice across the edge in a sweeping stroke to maximize the response. Don’t sink your stick straight into the edge! If it’s a ride, play simple and then busy patterns at slow and fast speeds to determine how defined is the articulation. Play between the bow and the bell to see if the relationship is what you want to hear. And slice on the edge of the cymbal to determine its crash and crash/ride capability, providing you seek that feature in a cymbal (the thinner the cymbal, the more crash-y it may be).

For hi-hats, follow the same procedure as for the ride, checking also the clarity of the chick response when the cymbals are pedaled together. Open and close to determine if the chick sound is suitable. Play some disco up-beats to get a sense of feel for the metal. Play closed and open. A medium top and heavy bottom works best for most players. As always, thinner cymbals are splashier, while heavier cymbals are more tonally tight and metallic sounding. Mix and match series and weights to get the sounds you feel comfortable with and are suitable for the music you play. Believe us, you, and everyone else, will notice and thank you for it.

This article was originally published in the February 2012 issue of Drum! magazine. This is the first time it has been appeared online.

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3 DVDs & Drum Books Every Drummer Should Own According to Stanton Moore https://drummagazine.com/3-dvds-drum-books-every-drummer-should-own-according-to-stanton-moore/ Tue, 01 Dec 2020 13:00:00 +0000 https://drummagazine.com/?p=19584 Drummer Stanton Moore
By Stanton Moore The gauntlet of funk drumming was passed in the ’90s to Stanton Moore, a New Orleans native who was weaned on the grooves of such great locals as Zigaboo Modeliste, Johnny Vidacovich, and Herman Riley. He was first thrust into the limelight with the instrumental jam band Galactic, and used this springboard […]]]>
Drummer Stanton Moore
By Stanton Moore

The gauntlet of funk drumming was passed in the ’90s to Stanton Moore, a New Orleans native who was weaned on the grooves of such great locals as Zigaboo Modeliste, Johnny Vidacovich, and Herman Riley. He was first thrust into the limelight with the instrumental jam band Galactic, and used this springboard to launch countless recording and band projects, including a blossoming solo recording career with two titles in his portfolio. He knows what you should be looking at.

DVDs

1. How The West Was Won, Led Zeppelin

I think it is very important for drummers today to pay close attention to the way Bonham played the drums. He used large drums and large sticks to attain some of his sound, but the sticks rarely came above his shoulders, much less behind his head. If you check it out closely you’ll notice he had a very loose (French-timpani inspired) grip, using his middle finger as his fulcrum, rather than his index finger. This creates a nice area of space in between the base of the thumb and the stick. His loose touch adds to the bigness of his sound. A tight grip makes for a choked sound. Also he quotes Max Roach’s solo from “The Drum Also Waltzes” at the beginning of his “Moby Dick” solo. Very informed and hip.

2. Legends Of Jazz Drumming

This series is great because it gives you an opportunity to check out most of the great jazz drummers in history in a one-stop source. It’s great to be able to watch Elvin, Tony, Art, and Philly Joe in their element.


3. New Orleans Drumming

This series (with Herlin Riley, Johnny Vidacovich, Earl Palmer, and Herman Ernest) gives great insight into many of the styles and history of New Orleans drumming and how it has influenced most of the styles played in America today. 



Books

1. The Drummer’s Complete Vocabulary As Taught By Alan Dawson, by John Ramsay

Alan Dawson was the great Boston-based teacher that taught so many great drummers including Tony Williams, Steve Smith, Vinnie Colaiuta, Harvey Mason, Kenwood Dennard, John “J.R.” Robinson, and Terri Lyne Carrington. The book includes a full coverage of all the rudiments, four-way coordination, ways to solo over song forms and much more very applicable information.

2. Syncopation, by Ted Reed

I chose this for its continuing versatility.


3. Stick Control, by George Lawrence Stone

This book offers extensive studies in developing the hands and can be applied in limitless ways around the kit. As with Syncopation, you can split the figures up between the hands and feet in countless ways.


This article was originally published in the August-September 2004 issue of Drum! magazine. Please note the above article includes affiliate links, meaning Drum! will earn a small commission (at no cost to you) when you click through and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!


bonham cover

Check out our FREE DOWNLOAD of “Bonham: Like Father Like Son.” In this father and son interview we asked John and Jason Bonham the same exact set of questions, only twenty years apart.


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3 Proven Hi-Hat Techniques From Steve Smith https://drummagazine.com/3-proven-hi-hat-techniques-from-steve-smith/ Fri, 27 Nov 2020 13:00:00 +0000 https://drummagazine.com/?p=19571 drummer steve smith
By Steve Smith Steve Smith parlayed multi-platinum success with ’80s arena rockers Journey into a drumming career that has defied easy definition. Equally versed in jazz-fusion, Smith went on to found Vital Information, and has recorded with an enormous roster of artists, including Jean Luc Ponty, Larry Coryell, and Frank Gambale. He has also become […]]]>
drummer steve smith
By Steve Smith

Steve Smith parlayed multi-platinum success with ’80s arena rockers Journey into a drumming career that has defied easy definition. Equally versed in jazz-fusion, Smith went on to found Vital Information, and has recorded with an enormous roster of artists, including Jean Luc Ponty, Larry Coryell, and Frank Gambale. He has also become an elder statesman of drumming education, whose clinics are considered definitive lessons on the art and history of drumming. His most recent educational DVD package, Steve Smith – Drumset Technique And History Of The U. S. Beat, is an epic work available through Hudson Music.

1. Heel/Toe Rocking Motion

This is the original way the hi-hat was played with the foot, dating all the way back to the late 1920s when the hi-hat was first invented. In a typical bar of 4/4 time you gently put your heel down on beat 1 then rock up on your toe for beat 2, rock back to your heel for 3, and up on your toe for 4, back to your heel for 1, and continue on like this. With this technique you’ll get a nice relaxed rocking motion going with your foot and you’ll have the Hi Hats “chicking” on beats 2 and 4.

This can be used for jazz, rock, or any kind of playing. I recently watched an Ed Sullivan Show DVD that featured lots of different bands from the 1960s and I noticed every drummer on the show played with this hi-hat technique. This technique can help you find a very relaxed center to your beat. For a variation on this, you can play the heel motion harder and get the hi-hats to splash. This will give you a splash on 1, a “chick” on 2, a splash on 3, and a “chick” on 4.

2. Side-To-Side Motion

This is a motion that the great Tony Williams used and it can be applied in a variety of ways. The motion is an alternative to playing the hi-hat heel-up with an up-and-down motion. The side-to-side motion is smoother and has a better feel.

Being a right-handed drummer I’ll describe the motion as I play it with my left foot. Have your heel slightly raised and play beat 1 with the heel to the left of the footboard, then move to the right of the footboard and play beat 2, back to the left for beat 3, and back to the right for beat 4. With this technique you can “chick” all four quarter-note beats in a measure, if the tempo is fast. If it’s a slower tempo think of playing eighth-notes, 1 to the left, the and of 1 to the right, 2 to the left, the and of 2 the right, and so on.

Once you get comfortable with the side-to-side motion, you can develop the control to choose whether or not to “chick” all four beats or just beats 2 and 4. Also, by moving your foot up the footboard you get a tighter “chick,” and if you move down closer to the hinge on the heel plate you get a more open, splashy sound.

To get the hi-hat cymbals to really “dance” and rock back and forth, first make sure the hi-hat clutch is adjusted very loose so the top cymbal has a lot of play, then get the side-to-side motion going with your foot. After playing like that for a while at an up-tempo the cymbals will take on a life of their own and start “dancing.”

3. Short Notes/Long Notes

The term Short Notes/Long Notes basically refers to playing the hi-hat with the tip of your stick for short notes and playing the hi-hat with the shaft of the stick for long notes. There are infinite amounts of nuance one can get with the closed hi-hat sounds if you are aware of how you combine your hand technique and your foot pressure. To get a very staccato short sound, use the tip of the stick in the middle area of the top cymbal and a heavy pressure with the foot. For a legato long sound use the shaft of the stick near the edge of the cymbals and relax your foot so the cymbals are looser and the pitch of the hi-hat cymbals drops down.

By combining the Short Note/Long Note stick techniques you can get some great feels. For instance play a shuffle with all of the “pick-up” beats on the tip of the stick and the quarter note pulse that fall right on beats 1, 2, 3, 4 with the shaft of the stick. You can “straighten” this beat out and play the 1, 2, 3, 4 beats with the shaft of the stick and play the &s with the tip of the stick. This will give you a strong quarter note pulse.

If you reverse this and play the tip of the stick on beats 1, 2, 3, 4 and the shaft on all of the &s you get a groovy “upbeat” feel. If you combine that with opening the hi-hats on all of the ands (upbeats) and closing it on all of the downbeats, you’ll have the classic “pea soup” disco beat!

Experiment with these ideas, listen to your favorite drummers and notice what kind of techniques they are using and try them for yourself.

This article was originally published in the August-September 2004 issue of Drum! magazine.


Learning how to tune effectively takes practice but the skills you master will last a lifetime. Download our FREE GUIDE on How To Tune Drums to get started.


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10 Questions To Ask Before Buying Your First Drum Set https://drummagazine.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-buying-your-first-drum-set/ Mon, 23 Nov 2020 22:05:19 +0000 https://drummagazine.com/?p=19560
By David E. Libman Most of us like to think we are not overly materialistic, but whom are we kidding? Certain purchases provide us with an almost spiritual level of fulfillment. Among them: your first car, first personal computer, first smart phone, and, most importantly, first drum set. Yes, playing drums is about the music, […]]]>

By David E. Libman

Most of us like to think we are not overly materialistic, but whom are we kidding? Certain purchases provide us with an almost spiritual level of fulfillment. Among them: your first car, first personal computer, first smart phone, and, most importantly, first drum set. Yes, playing drums is about the music, but picking out the gear, and then continually revising gear choices over time, is one of the great pleasures of being a drummer. If you’re ready to get the ball rolling on your first drum set purchase, you’re no doubt excited—maybe even anxious—and probably have a few questions. Allow this to serve as a mini-guide.

1. HOW MANY & WHICH ONES?

Drum sets come in all shapes and sizes. You might see one drummer playing a kit with only a bass drum, snare drum, cymbals, and a hi-hat. But you might see another drummer who has a kit with four bass drums, 25 toms, and 40 cymbals. Drums play music. Music is a form of art. There are no absolute rules. Still, some standards have developed as to what constitutes a basic drum set.

These days, most standard drum sets are 4-, 5-, or 6-piece kits. Most drummers seem to agree a “4-piece” kit is a good minimum, and—more often than not—all you need for most styles of music. Anything less is acceptable but quirky; anything more is also acceptable but not required. A 4-piece kit typically consists of a bass (aka kick) drum (the big one you play with your foot), a snare drum (the one with wires on the bottom), a mounted (aka rack) tom (the smaller drum over the bass drum), and a floor tom (the drum with three legs that elevate it off of the floor).

Somewhat confusingly, drumming nomenclature is such that a term like “4-piece” kit refers only to the number of drums in your setup. So you could have a kit with four drums and anywhere between two and forty cymbals, and in either case, it would still be a 4-piece kit.

2. WHAT DRUM SIZES SHOULD I GET?

Standard drum sizes have evolved over time to a fairly predictable choice of diameters and depths (listed here as diameter x depth). Bass drums tend to come in 20″ x 14″, 20″ x 16″, 22″ x 16″, and 22″ x 18″ sizes. Snare drums are usually 14″ in diameter with 5″, 5.5″, 6″, and 6.5″ depths. Mounted toms are offered in a wider range of standard sizes, such as 10″ x 7″–9″; 12″ x 8″–10″; or 13″ x 9″– 11″. And floor toms are commonly available in 14″ x 12″, 14″ x 14″, 16″ x 14″, and 16″ x 16″ sizes.

However, none of this is set in stone. Other sizes are available and preferred by discerning drummers. Interestingly, although these standard diameters have remained consistent for decades, shell depths seem to be more a matter of fashion—becoming deeper or shallower every six or seven years, depending on how musical winds blow.

In making your drum size choices, realize that smaller drums have higher pitches, while bigger drums have lower pitches. Drummers who play extremely loud typically prefer larger drums while those who play softer use smaller drums. In other words, your drum size choices depend on the kind of drummer you are, or wish to be.

Aside from sonic concerns, it’s also crucial to consider your physical size. If you’re ten years old and only four feet tall, a drum set with a 24″ diameter bass drum may not make sense, since the mounted tom that goes above the bass drum will be too high to reach. Instead, pick a drum set that can produce the pitches and volume you need, but also lets you sit comfortably and ergonomically.

As a guide, the tops of the snare drum and floor tom should be placed somewhere around the height of your belt. The mounted tom should sit at a height somewhere between your belly button and the bottom of your chin. If you can’t achieve these heights with the drums you’re considering, they’re probably the wrong sizes for you.

3. WHICH CYMBALS WILL I NEED?

Have you seen the Ludwig kit Ringo Starr played on the Ed Sullivan Show with The Beatles? If so, you have seen one of the most iconic 4-piece kits of all time. Always the minimalist, Ringo played the minimum amount of cymbals you will probably need to get started: a crash cymbal, a ride cymbal, and a set of hi-hats.

Standard crash cymbals are offered in 16″–20″ sizes, while rides typically range from 20″–23″, and hi-hats are 13″–15″. Anything larger or smaller is acceptable, but not standard. For example, you could get an 8″ crash cymbal—actually, called a “splash”—which will probably sound cool. But it won’t be as versatile as an 18″ crash, and it might get annoying if it’s the only crash cymbal you have. Most cymbal manufacturers also offer several effects cymbals including China cymbals, swish cymbals, various types of bells, and so on. These add some spice to your sound, so if you have the budget, consider adding one or two to your set.

First-time purchasers might not know that cymbals come in different weights as well as differing diameters. Thinner, lighter cymbals sound more washy. Thicker, heavier cymbals sound more pingy or clangy. Different brands use their own unique adjectives to describe thin or heavy varieties, but almost every brand sells medium weight cymbals. If you are unsure of which choice to make, choose medium weight cymbals, because they are extremely versatile and can be used for most styles of music.

4. WHAT ABOUT HARDWARE?

Most of us haven’t yet figured out how to levitate objects with our minds. So, unfortunately, the standard drum set still requires a purchase of hardware, including stands to suspend the cymbals, a hi-hat stand, a snare drum stand, pedals, and a drum throne.

While some drum kits come with hardware that lets you mount the rack tom off the bass drum, many don’t, so you might need a stand for the rack tom. Some stands let you mount both a rack tom and a cymbal, which is a good choice, because one stand costs less than two, they reduce clutter, and lighten the load in your hardware bag.

If you ever take the drum set out of the house, you’ll have to carry the hardware. Consequently, it makes sense to purchase hardware that is sturdy and heavy enough, but not any heavier than that—unless, of course, you are a bodybuilder who uses drum hardware as part of your workout. And make sure to get a comfortable drum throne that doesn’t wobble. If you fall in love with drums (which most of us do), you will spend a lot of time sitting on the throne.

Finally, you need one or more bass drum pedals. A single pedal is played with one foot, while a double pedal can be played with two. Before the advent of double bass drum pedals, drummers who wanted to play bass drum with both feet needed two bass drums. With the double pedal, you can make one bass drum sound like two. Old-school players often argue a single pedal is all you need, but many of today’s players opt for double pedals. If you’re not sure, get a double pedal.

A bass drum pedal is a moving piece of mechanically engineered metal parts that needs to immediately respond to subtle muscle movements. So we recommend that you buy the highest-quality pedal you can afford. You won’t regret it.

The same rule goes for the hi-hat stand. Although not a rule, if you buy one brand for the bass drum pedal, you may want to buy the same brand for the hi-hat pedal so that both pedals have footboards that are the same size and shape.

5. HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?

We’ll start with a typical lawyer’s answer: “It depends.” To understand pricing, you first need to understand how drum kits are sold. Drums, cymbals, and hardware are usually sold as separate components. While it might seem counterintuitive, less expensive beginner kits often include both drums and hardware. But even while cymbals are usually sold separately, drum companies will occasionally team with cymbal companies for specially priced bundled promotions, so it’s a good idea to look for such offers when it’s time to buy. As the quality and price of a kit goes up, you’ll find less bundling, so if you want a mid- to high-end kit, expect to buy cymbals and hardware separately. This makes sense, because people who buy expensive gear are usually experienced and more likely to know exactly what they want.

If you visit some of the major music retailers’ websites, you might find combined drum, hardware, and cymbal packages for as low as $350. These kits may be good for the price, but they aren’t professional—not even close. This is because they are made from cheaper woods and metal parts, and have lower quality finishes and drumheads. You would not want to use a $350 kit for any musical situation where sound quality is crucially important, but it could be a perfectly acceptable kit for practicing. Does this mean you need to spend $4,000 to get a good drum kit? No, but if you can afford $4,000, do it. Otherwise, the minimum you might expect to spend for a 4-piece drum set that includes two cymbals, one set of hi-hats, stands, a single bass drum pedal, and a throne would currently be $2,200 for a fully professional set, $1,500 for a semiprofessional outfit, and $800 for a beginner kit.

Let’s break this down a bit further. A professional quality 4-piece shell packs usually cost at least $999, while professional cymbal packs consisting of a ride, crash, and set of hi-hats cost at least $700. Lightweight professional hardware packs consisting of two cymbal stands, a snare stand, hi-hat stand, and bass drum pedal can be found for as low as $300–$400. The minimum you will pay for a professional double-bass pedal is around $280. A decent throne will cost at least $100. If you adjust for inflation, these prices are actually lower than prices have been for decades.

These prices obviously do not include cases, but if you think you will be taking the drums out of the house, you may want to purchase either soft cases (for local travel) or hard cases (for out of town gigs). A soft set of cases may be available for as low as $100.

6. CAN I NEGOTIATE?

Music stores do not promote this, but they are similar to auto dealers in that you can often negotiate a lower price than the advertised sticker price. Yours truly has never paid the sticker price for any drum or cymbal at a music store. So if you see a kit you like at the store, try offering a lower price, but use some bargaining decorum. If you offer an insultingly low price, you may get no discounts at all, but if you offer a price that is fair (but lower than the sticker price), many stores will make the deal. Also, consider asking the store to match a lower price offered on the Internet. Many will do it.

7. WHY WOULD TWO 4-PIECE KITS COST DIFFERENT AMOUNTS?

You see two kits that look similar but are priced differently. Why? Two reasons: materials and workmanship. With drum sets, the quality of the components drives the price. Higher-priced drums and cymbals typically feature higher quality materials, and involve more handwork in the manufacturing processes.

Regarding those components, the vast majority of drums are made from wood, although snares are also often made from metal. Maple and birch are the most popular woods for drums. Brass, steel, and aluminum are the most popular metals for snares. Other woods and metals are also used, many of which work just as well as more typical materials.

With wood, the hamburger analogy may be helpful if you think of, let’s say, maple, in the same way you think of ground beef. You can purchase a burger made from ground beef at McDonald’s or Morton’s Steakhouse. But the cow used for the McDonald’s burger is not the same quality as the cow used for the Morton’s burger. Moreover, the care that went into preparing the burger at McDonald’s is different from the loving care given to preparing the Morton’s burger. Both burgers may taste good, but you get what you pay for, and the Morton’s burger is probably better.

8. NEW OR USED?

The hamburger analogy doesn’t work as well here. Nobody wants a used burger. With that said, if you are buying your first drum set, quality used drum sets may be for sale at stores and on websites like eBay and Craigslist. The problem, however, is that if you do not know what you are doing, you could make a huge mistake and get ripped off. If you insist on buying used, try to find a professional drummer to go with you to look at the kit.

Also, be mindful that used drums are often sold with advertising words and terms that have double meanings. “Vintage” may actually mean “old and crappy.” “One-of-a-kind” or “custom” typically means, “No one else wanted to buy this,” and/or “I designed this, and it’s useless.” “Original drumheads” almost always means, “I was too lazy to change the drumheads.” “These drums were played by [your favorite drummer]” means, “A famous drummer looked at the kit once, and now you should pay an exorbitant price for it that is far beyond what it is worth.” “Beautiful patina” means, “This metal is filled with unsightly smudges and fingerprints.”

So rely on your common sense. If you’re going to buy used, try to buy something that looks as new as possible. Parts that are supposed to be round should be absolutely round. Straight parts should be absolutely straight. Edges and finishes should be smooth. Rust, cracks, wear-and-tear, and the like do not increase value, they decrease it.

9. DO I NEED A WARRANTY?

Not necessarily. Most companies offer some sort of warranty, and some stores will add a warranty on top of that. Unless it’s a bargain, it may not be worth it to purchase any warranty beyond what the manufacturer already offers. You’re better off buying something that has obvious quality without a warranty than you are buying something that looks and feels cheap but is supported by a warranty. Nevertheless, if you are torn between two drum sets that seem similar, but one has a better warranty, go for the kit with the better warranty.

10. WRAPPED OR UNWRAPPED?

Drum finishes come in two basic varieties: wrapped (some sort of plastic or laminate covering wrapped and affixed to the shell) or finishes (such as lacquer, oil, stain, and paint) that are applied onto the wood. Some will claim that nonwrapped finishes are better because they allow the drums to have a more resonant sound. If you can actually hear the difference, you have a great set of ears. Wrapped finishes are almost always more durable and don’t scratch as easily. Therefore, pick a color you like—whether wrapped or nonwrapped—and don’t let anyone sway you otherwise.

This article originally appeared in the November 2014 issue of Drum! magazine. This is the first time it has been published online.


Learning how to tune effectively takes practice but the skills you master will last a lifetime. Download our FREE GUIDE on How To Tune Drums to get started.


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V-Drums Acoustic Design https://drummagazine.com/v-drums-acoustic-design/ Sat, 21 Nov 2020 01:00:00 +0000 https://drummagazine.com/?p=19553
Sponsored by Roland: The Full-size, First-class Acoustic Drumming Experience V-Drums Acoustic Design is a brand-new V-Drums experience, blending the physical presence of acoustic drums with Roland’s world-leading digital percussion technology. The authentic look and detailed craftsmanship of a premium acoustic drum kit is all here. Learn More]]>

Sponsored by Roland:

The Full-size, First-class Acoustic Drumming Experience

V-Drums Acoustic Design is a brand-new V-Drums experience, blending the physical presence of acoustic drums with Roland’s world-leading digital percussion technology. The authentic look and detailed craftsmanship of a premium acoustic drum kit is all here.

Learn More

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Drumming Up a Feast: How To Get More Flavors From Your Kit https://drummagazine.com/drumming-up-a-feast-how-to-get-more-flavors-from-your-kit/ Fri, 20 Nov 2020 13:00:00 +0000 https://drummagazine.com/?p=19523
By Chris Mattoon Being a drummer is much like being a chef. The flavor of the meat is already in the steak, so any backyard barbecue cook can throw it on the grill and in ten minutes have a delicious steak dinner. But a chef, a true culinary artist, can take a sub-par slab of […]]]>

By Chris Mattoon

Being a drummer is much like being a chef. The flavor of the meat is already in the steak, so any backyard barbecue cook can throw it on the grill and in ten minutes have a delicious steak dinner. But a chef, a true culinary artist, can take a sub-par slab of beef and transform it into gastronomic bliss. Similarly, any drummer can learn to play a given drumbeat, but an artist understands the subtleties of a great groove and has the chops to make it sizzle.

Consider the standard 4-piece set with three cymbals. Like a chef, we have seven primary ingredients to work with. This isn’t exactly a well-stocked pantry, but conga players and orchestral percussionists have even less flavor at their disposal—perhaps four conga drums or even just one snare drum to express all the phrasing and color, texture and emotion of a complicated symphony or a vibrant Latin number. And yet, somehow it works for them. Let’s explore some of the ways we can get more from the same drum by expanding our palate. 

WAY TOO BLAND

Take a look at Ex. 1. There’s no way around it—this is boring! Sure, you could work on sixteenth-notes until they have machine-like precision, perfectly even dynamics, and are blazing fast. Guess what? For most applications, they would be unmusical, unmoving, unemotional, and uninteresting. For the purposes of this exercise, we’re going to add four sounds to the snare drum that can enhance and expand the musical palate with which we work.

TOSS IN SOME CLICK & MUFFLING

First, let’s practice alternating a cross-stick sound with our left hand and a standard snare stroke with our right, as shown in Ex. 2. By keeping your left wrist on the head while you play the drum with your right stick in Ex. 3, we add yet another muffled sound. Combining these three sounds in musical ways yields patterns that take on characteristics of multiple drums or even multiple drummers playing.

ADD A PINCH OF EDGE

Once these are firmly under your belt, let’s add another sound. This time, tap the snare lightly just near the hoop. You’ll hear a higher pitched, slightly ringy sound that will be quieter than a normal stroke. For the purposes of this exercise, we’ll call this an “edge stroke.” Ex. 4 provides some ideas about how to use this color in conjunction with the sounds we have already established. We now have four distinct sounds from one drum that we can combine into more complex flavors, such as the ideas in Exs. 5–8.

BLEND SOME BASS DRUM

Starting to incorporate the set, we can add a bass drum, like the excerpts in Exs. 9–12, for this linear phrase. Like all examples, play this slowly and smooth until the mechanics become second nature, then gradually increase the speed to a comfortable playing tempo. Keep in mind that faster is not always better. As with any phrase, let the music govern the speed and find a tempo that sounds good to you.

CHANGE THE RECIPE

We can continue expanding this concept of playing different zones on a single drum by incorporating it into the whole kit. Exs. 13–16 feature the same notation as previous examples, only on a small tom or floor tom. Make sure to use finesse when extracting different sounds from the same drum. Sometimes beating a drum harder will hide the character of each area of a drumhead. Try a variety of dynamic levels until you find the ones that work with your set and your style. Remember, we’re looking for different flavors, not simply different strokes.

NOW MIX IT UP

There are unlimited ways to play with these ideas. Grab your copy of Syncopation or Stick Control and shake things up. Play a simple phrase or fill and add one new voice at a time. Try a Latin or blues groove with a new flair. Keep in mind that the sounds you play define your style. By adding new ideas like these to our toolbox, we grow as drummers and musicians.

This article originally appeared in the November 2014 issue of Drum! magazine. This is the first time it has been published online.

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How to Play Shuffles and Shuffle Variations https://drummagazine.com/how-to-play-shuffles-and-shuffle-variations/ Tue, 17 Nov 2020 13:00:00 +0000 https://drummagazine.com/?p=19533
By Brad Schlueter Can’t play a convincing shuffle? You might as well cross a whole range of potential gigs off your bucket list. Shuffles play a crucial role in every professional drummer’s vocabulary, and those still struggling to get the hang of this particular feel might be surprised to learn there’s a lot more to […]]]>

By Brad Schlueter

Can’t play a convincing shuffle? You might as well cross a whole range of potential gigs off your bucket list. Shuffles play a crucial role in every professional drummer’s vocabulary, and those still struggling to get the hang of this particular feel might be surprised to learn there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. Shuffles can lightly bounce behind a track or drive like a freight train, and everything in between. You may be content knowing a handful of basic patterns, but there are dozens of types of shuffle grooves that can help you develop greater control and coordination while expanding your fluency. So let’s take your shuffle to the next level.

WHAT IS A SHUFFLE?

As you dig deep into shuffle pedagogy, you’ll find that they’re sometimes written as triplets in 4/4 and other times as 12/8. So, to help you adjust to this idea, we’ve presented the following examples both ways—in either case, they’re more or less equivalent. I’ll refer to both patterns as being counted as 1 & ah 2 & ah 3 & ah 4 & ah because it’s easier to count them that way, even though my music theory teacher would slap my wrists for that.

Shuffles generally sound like a child skipping, with a cymbal pattern playing the pattern 1 – ah 2 – ah 3 – ah 4 – ah. However, as you’ll soon see, there are countless variations on this idea. Sometimes the feet play the shuffle, or it’s divided among several limbs, or occasionally it’s just implied.

GETTING STARTED

For those new to shuffles, we’ll start with a few blues beats that aren’t technically shuffles, but will help you get used to the feel of triplet-based beats. These grooves are written in 6/8, and since they’re shorter, they’re easier to master. Practice each slowly until it becomes comfortable, and then try speeding up the tempo. Keep your snare and bass drum medium strong, and play your hi-hat softer using the tip to create a musically balanced sound. Once you’re comfortable with these, you can link pairs together to create longer and more interesting patterns.

The second line has some simple shuffles. When playing these on the ride cymbal, you may close your hi-hat with the snare note. The third line is trickier. To master these, play the unaccented snare notes very softly. More advanced drummers can expand these by buzzing or playing soft drags instead of ghost notes for different textures. Feel free to add variations on the cymbal, foot, or snare patterns to spice up any shuffle once you’re comfortable playing it.

MORE SHUFFLE VARIATIONS

There are dozens of shuffle variations and, just to confuse you even more, their names sometimes change by geographical region. Here are a few of the best ones.

KICK DRUM SHUFFLE. The bass drum plays a shuffle rhythm beneath the hands. This is a tiring and loud groove that doesn’t work everywhere, but it’s well worth the time to develop it for situations where it fits. Once mastered, the hands are free to play fills over it.

SAMBA SHUFFLE. You can think of this as the strange progeny of a samba and a kick drum shuffle hookup. The hi-hat pedals the second triplet partial (the &s) for a constant rolling feel.

PURDIE SHUFFLE. Here’s a simple version of a this celebrated shuffle (we dig deeper into it below). Note how the snare ghost notes maintain the momentum of the groove. Many other bass drum patterns are possible. Try to come up with some of your own.

CHEATER SHUFFLE. Okay, this isn’t really a shuffle, but it’s something I’ve seen hard rock drummers and beginners play from time to time, and it can be useful as a fill pattern too.

FLAT TIRE SHUFFLE. Also called an Inside or Backward Shuffle, it sounds like a flat tire turning. This is a key blues groove.

DOUBLE BASS SHUFFLE. An indispensable tool for rock and metal drummers, here we shift the shuffle pattern to the feet. Lots of drummers lead these left-footed, since their left foot is already used to keeping four-on-the-floor time on the hi-hat.

STEVE GADD SHUFFLE. This is similar to a double bass shuffle, but uses the hi-hat in place of the second bass drum.

LAZY MAN SHUFFLE. Here’s a useful variation to use when you want to let the rest of the band play the shuffle feel while you drive right down the middle of it. This can groove really hard.

JAZZ/SWING SHUFFLE. In this permutation a jazz ride or hi-hat pattern takes the place of the shuffle pattern. Drummers often place a quiet snare on (1) ah to complete the feel.

HAND TO HAND SHUFFLE. If you’re ever asked to play a shuffle at a ridiculous speed, this version may become your best friend.

TRAIN BEAT SHUFFLE. Basically a triplet version of the country classic.

LA GRANGE SHUFFLE. On the ZZ Top classic “La Grange,” drummer Frank Beard plays this variation of a Hand To Hand shuffle on the rim of his snare, and embellishes the pattern with flams and drags.

SNARE SHUFFLE. This is a great country or blues groove, and sounds fantastic when using a brush in your right hand while playing a rim-click with your left.

ROCK SHUFFLE. Played heavier than many other variations, the kick and snare suggest the shuffle as much as the hi-hat pattern does. Lots of rock drummers begin learning to shuffle with this kind of beat.

HALFTIME SHUFFLE. Here the snare accents count 3 and the groove feels more laid back and often funkier than a regular shuffle.

GLAM ROCK SHUFFLE. This variation transfers the hi-hat part to the floor tom for a powerful jungle feel.

BUILDING THE DOUBLE SHUFFLE

The Double Shuffle is also known as the Chicago Shuffle, the Full Shuffle, the Prima Shuffle, and sometimes the Texas Shuffle, as well as several other names. It goes by so many aliases it almost makes you wonder if it’s on the lam from the law. This groove has been around for quite some time. Drummer Bobby Morris played it on Louis Prima’s song “Just A Gigolo,” though you’re probably more familiar with David Lee Roth’s 1985 redo of it.

This is an essential shuffle groove. If you can’t play any other shuffle, you should at least have a handle on the Double Shuffle. However, it’s a bit tricky to master. The challenge is getting the left-hand dynamics just right, so practice playing all the unaccented notes very softly. Admittedly, you can also perform this groove with medium level “soft” notes, but by practicing them softly you’ll be ready for any musical situation.

The accented snare note can be played in the middle of the drumhead for a meaty sound, or as a rimshot for a higher pitched ringing timbre. Here’s a tip: To play a quick accent after a soft note, it can help to use a Moeller “whipping” motion or use your fingers to “grab” the stick briefly. Most drummers accent both the snare and ride together, mainly because it’s easier to do it that way. For greater control, work on just accenting the snare hand and keeping the ride or hi-hat even.

ADD-A-NOTE METHOD. One way of teaching this groove is to start with a basic shuffle and add notes to the snare and bass drum parts until you’re eventually playing the whole pattern. Keep in mind that patterns C and D are often interchangeably referred to as Texas Shuffles.

LIMB PAIR METHOD. Another way I often teach grooves is to isolate the hand pattern (the first limb pair) in order to master it first. Once that’s solid and the dynamics are consistent, layer it on top of the much simpler foot pattern (the second limb pair). The slower you work on the hand pattern, the sooner you’ll be able to get the dynamics under control. Once you get these down, experiment with other bass drum patterns.

SHUFFLE FEELS

Once you learn a variety of these grooves you may wonder why some drummers’ shuffles feel so good. It could be a number of things, but first, check out their dynamics. Is the drummer accenting differently from you? What about their overall volume range? It may depend on musical context, but it’s good to be able to adapt your levels to different situations.

Another common stumbling block is dynamic contrast. Is there enough of a difference between your soft and loud notes? Record yourself and listen closely. Make a quick video to check your stick heights for consistency. Playing rimshots on your accents is a great way to add tonal contrast at every volume range between the notes you want to emphasize and those you don’t.

Some drummers employ a more subtle way of altering their feel by varying the note spacing. By deviating from a straight triplet feel, you can drastically alter the music’s feel. Straightening out the notes a bit, notated here with the cymbal on the first and fourth note of a quintuplet rhythm, will give the shuffle a rounder, lazier feel. This can occur naturally when the tempo becomes so fast that it’s hard to play an even triplet. Think of rockabilly or early rock and roll—lots of those hi-hat patterns had a slightly uneven, somewhere-between-straight-and-swung type of feel.

If you slightly delay the skip note (the last triplet partial—the ah), here shown as the first and fifth note of a septuplet rhythm, you end up with a harder, more driving feel. Now, I’m not suggesting blues drummers are counting fives and sevens, but hopefully this notation will help illustrate their subtle feel changes.

Our last example here uses accents on every ah to give the groove a pushing quality.

ROCKING SHUFFLES OFF THE RECORD

There are many well-known shuffles you should know. Here are a select few of them.

“BALLROOM BLITZ.” Glam rock band The Sweet had a hit with “Ballroom Blitz” and Mick Tucker created this up-tempo driving snare shuffle for the song.

Ballroom Blitz - Mick Tucker

“RADAR LOVE.” Drummer Cesar Zuiderwijk came up with this great pattern for the classic Golden Earring single. Even though he played a right-handed kit, he actually reversed the stickings we notated on this version.

Radar Love

PURDIE SHUFFLE. There are many different versions of this groove played by Bernard Purdie, but perhaps his best known is this one from the Steely Dan song “Home At Last.” This is a halftime shuffle with the snare emphasis on count 3, and he closes his hi-hat on all the beats creating openings on every ah.

Purdie Shuffle

“FOOL IN THE RAIN.” This Led Zeppelin track finds John Bonham playing another variation on a halftime shuffle. His hi-hat opening is funky and a little tricky to get down.

Fool In The Rain

“ROSANNA.” The Toto hit features the late studio great Jeff Porcaro behind the kit. He created this funky groove that somehow combines elements of the Bo Diddley beat, the Purdie Shuffle, and “Fool In The Rain.” The challenge is playing the ghosted snare immediately following his accented backbeat.

Rosanna shuffle, Jeff Porcaro

“QUADRANT 4.” Jazz and fusion innovator Billy Cobham kicked the drumming world in a bombastic new direction when he decided to play a shuffle on two bass drums.

Quadrant 4

“SPACE BOOGIE.” Simon Phillips soon followed in Cobham’s footsteps with Jeff Beck’s “Space Boogie” (in 7/4), and its swing ride cymbal pattern. Note that Phillips leads his double bass shuffles with his left foot.

Space Boogie

“HOT FOR TEACHER.” Alex Van Halen put his own tasty spin on the double bass shuffle by superimposing this unique ride bell pattern over it.

Hot For Teacher

This article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Drum! magazine. This is the first time it has been published online.

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Mike Johnston’s 10-Day Plan For Faster Hands https://drummagazine.com/mike-johnstons-10-day-plan-for-faster-hands-2/ Fri, 13 Nov 2020 13:00:00 +0000 https://drummagazine.com/?p=19491 10 day drumming plan for faster hands
Here’s a road-tested program guaranteed to increase your hand speed. Too good to be true? Only one way to find out. By Mike Johnston | Photography By Robert Downs Outside the obviously speed-centric world of extreme metal, the ability to drum fast shouldn’t be your top priority. Which isn’t to say it doesn’t have its […]]]>
10 day drumming plan for faster hands

Here’s a road-tested program guaranteed to increase your hand speed. Too good to be true? Only one way to find out.

By Mike Johnston | Photography By Robert Downs

Outside the obviously speed-centric world of extreme metal, the ability to drum fast shouldn’t be your top priority. Which isn’t to say it doesn’t have its place, even if you never play anything faster than a ballad.

For one thing, the faster you can play, the more control you’ll have across the whole tempo spectrum. Who wants to sweat it out at the top of their range every time a rushed chorus fill comes around? Besides, having that speed reserve will only increase your confidence for those moments when the wow factor of a super-sonic tom assault might be just what the doctor ordered. But most importantly, practicing for speed the right way will reap benefits in all aspects of your playing.

This workout is based around the concept of muscle memory. Now, we are all aware of the fact that our muscles don’t have brains, so the term “muscle memory” is a bit of a misnomer. That being said, we also know that when we repeat a motor skill over time, such as throwing a ball or riding a bike, a long-term memory is created for that task, eventually allowing it to be performed without conscious effort. This process decreases the need for attention and creates maximum efficiency within the motor and memory systems.

In my experience as an educator I have found that hand speed is not the only issue that holds drummers back from being able to play their rudiments fast. The mental stress of trying to remember the pattern is what tends to slow drummers down more than anything. By playing at a slower bpm for longer periods of time, and focusing on perfect repetitive technique, you will be creating the muscle memory required to play all your rudiments and sticking combinations at a high bpm while remaining calm and relaxed, which is key for good feel.

Below are the Five Focus Rudiments. These are the rudiments that we are going to build your speed on over the next ten days. I have chosen these five rudiments for a very specific reason: When I examine my own playing and the playing of my idols I find that almost every chop, lick, or groove can be traced back to one of these five standard rudiments. Obviously, the world of drumming is made of much more than just five rudiments, but trust me, if you master these you will be well on your way to enjoying some serious freedom and creativity on the kit!

Before you begin, you’ll need a starting reference point for where you’re at with your speed so you’ll know exactly how much further along you’ll be ten days from now. Use a metronome to find out your max bpm on the Five Focus Rudiments. After you have written down your scores, begin the Day 1 Workout on the next page. You can do each workout as many times per day as you like, but I recommend doing it at least twice — once in the morning and once in the evening.

five drum rudiments
The Five Focus Rudiments

DAY 1

Welcome to day 1 of your 10-Day Plan For Faster Hands intensive program. Each workout will begin with you playing our Five Focus Rudiments for one minute each. Remember, muscle memory is the key here so slow down and focus on repetitive perfection.

Warm up with the Five Focus Rudiments for one minute each, at 50% of your max speed.

Exercise 1: 8-4-2-2
The 8-4-2-2 exercise is designed to help you build your individual hand speed. During this exercise you want to pay close attention to the difference between your right hand and left hand. Is your right hand gripping tighter than your left? Is your left hand angled differently than your right? Use your dominant hand to “teach” your weaker hand.

Exercise 2: Paradiddle Accents
The paradiddle accent exercise will increase your muscle memory. By shifting the placement of the accents each measure you are forced to really give every note a great deal of care. Remember, speed will come through repetition and focus, so don’t rush through this. Focus on perfection.

Exercise 3: Flammed Groupings #1
The flammed groupings exercise is designed to help improve your speed on flam taps as well as improve your ability to memorize long patterns. Symmetry between the hands is key during this exercise. You really want to listen, and correct for any difference between your right hand and your left hand.

Note: For each exercise, each day, record your tempo at 60% of your max for 2 minutes, 70% of your max for 2 minutes, and 80% of your max for 1 minute, as well as any notes like right vs. left, soreness, etc.

DAY 2

All right guys and girls, it’s day two. Please don’t lose sight of what we are trying to achieve here. Muscle memory is the name of the game. Resist the temptation to “max out” and keep focusing on playing each and every note with purpose.

Warm up with the Five Focus Rudiments for one minute each, at 60% of your max speed.

Exercise 1: Mixed Meter Doubles
The mixed meter double-stroke warm-up will help you learn to control each and every note. When playing your double strokes at one speed, your hands enter an autopilot mode that is great for overall speed, but overall control can be lost. We want to make sure that your doubles remain perfect as you weave in and out of different subdivisions.

Exercise 2: Paradiddle-diddles And Singles
The paradiddle accent exercise will increase your muscle memory. By shifting the placement of the accents each measure you are forced to really give every note a great deal of care. Remember, speed will come through repetition and focus, so don’t rush through this. Focus on perfection.

Exercise 3: Flammed Groupings #2
This flammed groupings exercise incorporates flam taps as well as groupings of four. The grouping of four gives you a chance to A/B how your dominant hand feels compared to your weaker hand. It’s important that you take time during the slower tempos to look down at your hands and make sure that they are both using the same technique.

DAY 3

Day three is all about repetition. We will be using two of the exercises from day one and one exercise from day two. Remember, our goal is to increase the overall speed of our Five Focus Rudiments, so do not skip out on the five-minute warm-up. Focus on playing each individual note as perfectly as possible.

Warm up with the Five Focus Rudiments for one minute each, at 60% of your max speed.

Exercise 1: 8-4-2-2
Focal points:

  • Right and left hand evenness
  • Use your dominant hand to “teach” the weaker hand

Exercise 2: Paradiddle-diddles & Singles
Focal points:

  • Listen for the rhythm of the accents
  • Sing along internally to the accent rhythm

Exercise 3: Flammed Groupings #1
Focal points:

  • Use the four-note grouping to A/B your dominant and weaker hands
  • Watch your hands to ensure consistency of technique

DAY 4

Day four brings you three brand-new exercises. We have also bumped up the speed of the rudiment warm-up to 70 percent of max. Remember, the focus of this workout is muscle memory so don’t push yourself. Play at a tempo that you can easily handle and allow your brain and muscles to memorize the rudiment.

Warm up with the Five Focus Rudiments for one minute each, at 70% of your max speed.

Exercise 1: Dynamic Doubles
The dynamic doubles exercise focuses on accenting the doubles on the right for one measure, followed by accenting the doubles on the left for one measure.

Exercise 2: Paradiddle-diddles & Paradiddles
This is a great two-bar exercise that will help you master flowing in and out of paradiddle-diddles and paradiddles. Measure one is right-hand lead and then it switches to left-hand lead for the second measure.

Exercise 3: Accented Singles
The accented singles exercise is simple yet extremely effective. If you want to get faster at single strokes you are just going to have to practice them. The accents will break up the boredom and give you something to focus on. Try to make a huge dynamic difference between your accented notes and your non-accented notes.

DAY 5

Congrats! It’s day five and you’re still going strong. It would be easy to give up now but this is the most crucial point in the workout. This is where the muscle memory will start to take hold and your hands will begin to do the exercises without you even thinking about it. Let’s get warmed up.

Warm up with the Five Focus Rudiments for one minute each, at 70% of your max speed.

Exercise 1: Flammed Groupings #1
Focal points:

  • Right and left hand evenness
  • Work on memorization of patterns

Exercise 2: 8-4-2-2
Focal points:

  • Right and left hand evenness
  • Use your dominant hand to “teach” the weaker hand

Exercise 3: Mixed Meter Doubles
Focal points:

  • Pay attention to controlling every note
  • Crisp, even double strokes

DAY 6

Now it’s time to start pushing yourself a bit. Our five-minute warm-up is being bumped up to 80 percent of your max for the next two days. Be sure to stay as relaxed as possible while playing the rudiments. Your workout for today incorporates two exercises from previous workouts and one new exercise, the paradiddle flam tap combo.

Warm up with the Five Focus Rudiments for one minute each, at 80% of your max speed.

Exercise 1: Paradiddle-diddles & Paradiddles
Focal points:

  • Concentrate on flowing into and out of the two patterns
  • Consistency with each hand leading

Exercise 2: Paradiddle Flam Tap Combo
This is an old-fashioned two-for-one. You can maximize your practice time by combining two rudiments into one exercise. Be sure that the sixteenth-note subdivision stays steady and consistent throughout the entire exercise.

Exercise 3: Flammed Groupings #2
Focal points:

  • Use the four-note grouping to A/B your dominant and weaker hands
  • Watch your hands to ensure consistency of technique

DAY 7

You have dedicated yourself to building your hand speed for an entire week now, and that is definitely something to be proud of. Okay, now back to work. Our rudimental warm-up will stay at 80 percent of your max for today. We will do two exercises from previous workouts as well as a new one, the sextuplet changeup.

Warm up with the Five Focus Rudiments for one minute each, at 80% of your max speed.

Exercise 1: Paradiddle Accents
Focal points:

  • Pay careful attention to each note
  • Make shifting accents consistent

Exercise 2: The Sextuplet Changeup
So far, all our paradiddle exercises have been phrased as sixteenth-notes. This exercise puts the rudiment back into its natural subdivision. It also forces you to maintain focus as it slips one beat worth of alternating strokes in on the downbeat of 3.

Exercise 3: Accented Singles
Focal point:

  • Work toward a huge dynamic difference between accented and non-accented notes

DAY 8

By now the muscle memory has fully set in and we can start working on breaking down your physical barriers. We will be doing our rudiment warm-up at 90% of your max. The workout has also been bumped up by 10% per set to force your muscles to work harder during the home stretch.

Warm up with the Five Focus Rudiments for one minute each, at 90% of your max speed.

Exercise 2: 8-4-2-2
Focal points:

  • Right and left hand evenness
  • Use your dominant hand to “teach” the weaker hand

Exercise 2: Dynamic Doubles
Focal point:

  • Consistency between the opposing hands’ accents

Exercise 3: Flammed Groupings #2
Focal points:

  • Use the four-note grouping to A/B your dominant and weaker hands
  • Watch your hands to ensure consistency of technique

DAY 9

Day nine is the last time we will run through our workout before you test yourself on day ten. That means you need to put in maximum effort today. Maintain a sharp focus during every exercise including the warm-up. I know this sounds cheesy, but care about every single note you play today!

Warm up with the Five Focus Rudiments for one minute each, at 90% of your max speed.

Exercise 1: Paradiddle Flam Tap Combo
Focal points:

  • Maximize practice time with two rudiments in one exercise
  • Listen for consistent sixteenth-note subdivision throughout

Exercise 2: Paradiddle-diddles & Singles
Focal points:

  • Listen for the rhythm of the accents
  • Sing along internally to the accent rhythm

Exercise 3: Accented Singles
Focal point:

  • Work toward a huge dynamic difference between accented and non-accented notes

DAY 10

Congratulations! You just completed an intense 10-day workout that will change the way you approach drumming for the rest of your life, and no, that’s not hyperbole. You now know how important muscle memory is, and how it can make complicated patterns seem easy over time. Next time you want to work out an ostinato with your feet, remember this workout. Instead of trying to “max out” right away, take it slow and focus on repetition. Allow your body to perform the pattern over and over for long periods of time at slower tempos. Then when you try to improvise over the top of it you won’t have to figure out how every stroke with your hands fits with your feet. Your feet will be on autopilot, playing the ostinato without you having to focus on it at all, and your hands will be free to play all the amazing ideas floating through your brain every time your car blinker gets switched on.

five drum rudiments
The Five Focus Rudiments

Speed Test: Final Exam
For each “question” on this test, record the following information: What is your Day 1 speed? What is your Day 10 speed?

  • Single Stroke Roll
  • Double Stroke Roll
  • Single Paradiddle
  • Flam Taps
  • Paradiddle-diddle

This article originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of Drum!

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