Glen Sobel is an incredibly talented drummer and the solo we’re presenting today proves it. His chosen genre is hard rock, but his skill set is vast enough that he could cover most any type of gig. Currently, he tours with both Alice Cooper’s band and the Hollywood Vampires (along with Cooper, Joe Perry, and actor/musician Johnny Depp) and subbed for Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee after Lee developed tendonitis during the band’s final tour. (Sobel also writes the Hard Rock column in Drum’s Practice Pad lesson section.)

Sobel’s made his living touring and recording with a diverse collection of rock artists as a sideman, and because of his background and skills, he was asked to play an impromptu solo for the music documentary “Hired Gun.” This film tells the behind the scenes stories of touring backup musicians. If you haven’t seen it, you must — it’s both revealing and entertaining.

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Hired Gun Solo

Buckle up, we’re about to dive into the nuts and bolts of the solo in the video above. This is a rollercoaster of challenging rudimental and linear ideas applied to the kit, so we’ll share the pattern names and stickings to improve your drumming vocabulary and help you follow along.

The solo opens with a fast triplet lick that uses Puh Duh Duh (Rll) followed by a six-stroke roll (Rllrrl). From this, Sobel plays a couple of left-handed Hertas (R LRL) between his snare and rack tom, and then some right-handed ones (RLR L) played across his toms, before transferring the pattern to his feet at the beginning of measure three.

Midway through the fourth measure, Sobel plays a blazing triplet lick popularized by Gregg Bissonette, though Sobel’s approach to the idea is unique. Bissonette’s version of the pattern is played (RH RF LF), as fast sixteenth-note triplets, often with the right hand on the floor tom to mimicking the sound of another bass drum note. Sobel’s version is similar, but his footing is different. He plays it with a reversed footing (RH LF RF), and Sobel moves his hands to play accents on the beats with his snare and crashes.

hired gun solo measures 1-4

Hired Gun solo measures 1-6

Trademark Technique

In measure six we see an advantage of leading this pattern with his left foot instead of his right and can learn one of Sobel’s trademark techniques. He often uses one foot to play two pedals, by straddling both his left bass drum pedal and his hi-hat with his left foot, closing his hi-hat as he plays his bass drum. This results in fast hi-hat barks since his hi-hat closes simultaneously along with his left foot immediately after striking it. To add showmanship to this section, he rapidly crosses his hands back and forth playing unison hits with his floor tom and hi-hat.

The next section continues with another version of this idea. Sobel begins alternating his hands while playing the same footing (RH LF RF / LH LF RF). This new sticking gives him enough time him to add some stick twirling to the lick.

Measure 13 applies another brief Herta pattern that’s used to transition into the next ripping idea.

hired gun solo 5-14

Hired Gun solo measures 5-14

Ladder Lick
The Ladder Lick

The Ladder Lick

Measure 14 initiates a thirty-second-note pattern known as the “Ladder Lick,” which was popularized by drummers like Vinnie Colaiuta. This pattern’s name was derived by the sequence of the limbs, which are ordered similarly to how one climbs a ladder (RH LF LH RF).

Unlike many licks this pattern is found more often in solos than fills, primarily because it creates an illusion. Visually, it appears as if the drummer is moving slowly, but audibly it creates a virtual hurricane of notes since the bass drum is interleaved between those of the hands. Sobel moves around the kit while playing this pattern at a breathtaking pace.

hired gun solo 14-17

Hired Gun solo measures 14-17

Add Stick Twirls

In measure 18, he takes this insanity up a few more notches by changing his hand pattern to double strokes (RH LF RH RF / LH LF LH RF), which affords him enough time to spin his sticks. This adds a showmanship aspect to it that’s perfect for soloing to large crowds, and requires even greater coordination and timing along with the ability to twirl your sticks very quickly.

The last few lines see him introduce his final idea, which brilliantly combines a few of the previous patterns. This one employs another variation on the Ladder Lick. Once again he straddles his left foot between his bass pedal and hi-hat, and he moves his right hand between his floor tom and snare, all while playing left-handed hi-hat barks on all the eighth-note counts.

hired gun solo 18-27

Hired Gun solo measures 18-27