Ghost notes are the glue and grit, the secret sauce that makes a groove spicier and more intriguing. When you play ghost notes, are you aware of what part of the beat they are landing on? Are you aware of the definition of your ghost notes? Where and how you place ghost notes in a groove can be the X-factor that makes a so-so groove or a killer groove. In this lesson we explore a few “go to” ghost note techniques that will help you to deepen your awareness of and ability to place ghost notes.


Play a simple 2 and 4 beat at a comfortable tempo. Add a ghost note to the “ah” of beats 2 and 4 so it precedes the bass drum (Ex. 1).


Ex. 1

Move that sixteenth-note ghost note over to the last thirty-second-note before the downbeat (Ex. 2).


Ex. 2

Double that thirty-second-note to become two thirty-second-notes notes essentially “dragging” into the own beat (Ex. 3).

Ex. 3

Lay back on the thirty-second-notes to create a small grouping of two sixteenth-note triplets (Ex. 4).


Ex. 4

Go back to the single sixteenth-note on the “ah” of 2 and 4, but play it as a buzzed note (Ex. 5).


Ex. 5

Play four bars of each stylized ghost note. Once you are comfortable with that start to mix them up at random.

Stewart Jean is Program Chair for Drums at Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA.