Category Archives: Drums and Drumming

Welcome to The Basement

It’s been quite some time since I mentioned our book/DVD FUNdamentals of Drumming for Kids. This book was truly a labor of love for me and my co-author Rich Redmond and neither of us could have predicted the success we have had with this project. From being a NAMM award-winner to an Amazon Best-Seller in its 4th printing I am amazed by how many people have embraced our system. It’s always a thrill to have people contact us and share their story of how the book helped them guide a student or child. I never considered myself an “educator” but I reluctantly accepted the title at the insistence of a reader who pointed out that I co-wrote an educational book. I’ve also been accepted as a member of the Salyers Education Team of which I am quite proud. With that said I’m going to try and post more one-on-one educational pieces in the coming months. Now that I have a dedicated drum room and will be adding an electronic kit I can do more things, more often. Therefore I want to introduce you to my new drum school called “The BASEMENT.” It even has its own logo. Stay tuned. My first lesson will be my “famous” fill. I’m really excited about adding this new feature to the blog.

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Thanks for your patience


I haven’t been posting anything of real value in a few days due to being steeped in the madness of selling and buying a house (above). I have never experienced anything so stressful in my life. My drums have been in storage while we empty our current house of furniture so I haven’t played in a while. The good news is that I will have a drum room in the basement. I am also looking at selling one of my acoustic kits in order to buy an electronic one. The question is which one to sell. I am seriously considering parting with my custom one-of-a kind PDP. Once we get settled I’ll get back to writing posts worth your attention. I’ve got some reviews and interviews set to go.

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Online Radio Interview This Sunday

I’m excited to announce that I will be making my third appearance on the online radio show Behind the Kit this Sunday at 9:30. Joe Gansas runs THE best interview show on the ‘net and has interviewed hundreds of the biggest names in the drumming world. For some reason he continues to find me worthy. Be sure to check it out. We never know where the conversation will take us.

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Lean on Me

Today I wanted to take a quick look at two of the most unusual set-ups you are likely to see. Both kits are angled at a severe tilt away from the player and look as if they are falling over. Each kit belongs to one of the best in the business and frankly, as weird as they may look, this is what works for them. The first kit belongs to Jack White’s drummer Daru Jones.

Daru plays DW Drums: (Classic Series) 8×12 rack, 16×18 floor, 14×26 kick and a 5×16 VLT snare with chrome finish. He plays PAISTE Cymbals: 22” Twenty Custom Collection Full Ride, 18” Twenty Custom Collection Full Crash and 15” Metal Hi-Hats.

The second kit belongs to our friend and Carrie Underwood’s drummer Garrett Goodwin.

Garrett also plays DW Drums: 10×14 floor tom, 16×18 floor tom, 18×26 kick and a 5.5×14 Aluminum & Brass/Aluminum Snare. He plays Sabian Cymbals: 22” AA Medium Crash, 24” AA Medium Crash, 18” Hi-Hats (Top HHXploshion or Paragon Crash/Bottom Artisan Crash) and a 24” AAX Stage or Studio Ride.

Both drummers started playing the drums in church and after they ventured out into the secular scene they became inspired to come up with their own unique style. They succeeded. It’s interesting watching these guys play.

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Sympathies were stirred

When I was researching letters for The Long Roll I didn’t come upon any that depicted the camaraderie that was shared between Drummer Boys on both sides. It wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to think that having the chance to interact with someone your own age would be a welcome opportunity for these boys among men. It is tragic that the one rare moment of interaction I was able to find took place under heartbreaking circumstances. This letter, written by Union drummer Delavan Miller, shows the empathy that one side could have for the other.

After the fighting at Sailor’s Creek had ended, Delavan Miller and his friends in the drum corps of the 4th New York Heavy Artillery found a Confederate drummer boy, wounded and taken prisoner. “My sympathies were stirred as they had never been before,” Delavan recalled when he wrote his memoirs, “as a boy, scarcely 16 years old, was lifted out of the wagon…. He, too, was a drummer boy and had been wounded two or three days before. We got our surgeon and had his wound dressed and gave him stimulants and a little food, but he was… “all marched out,” he said… We bathed his face and hands with cool water… [and] before leaving “Little Gray”, as we called him, two boys knelt by his side and repeated the Lord’s prayer… In the morning the little Confederate from the Palmetto state was dead and we buried him on the field with his comrades. Twas war- real genuine war.”

It is easy to forget that Drummer Boys were also among the casualties of war and many died of the same wounds as their adult comrades. There is no total that I am aware of for how many Drummer Boys died during the Civil War but there were quite a few who perished either in battle, from disease, or as prisoners of war. Their sacrifice is far too often overlooked. If you are interested in reading more about the wartime experiences of these boys download The Long Roll: DOWNLOAD HERE.

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A Look at the La Grange Fill

Today I want to briefly look at one of the most distinct and memorable fills in the annals of rock. It’s ZZ Top drummer Frank Beard’s fill in La Grange that introduces Billy Gibbon’s guitar solo. This song is ranked No. 74 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time and is a clinic in the rock shuffle. Beard’s fill fits perfectly within the groove.

From what I’ve read online when breaking this down you need to think of the fill as being constructed of quarter-note triplets: If 4/4 (aka Common Time), you can play two quarter-note triplets. The snare drum accent marks the beginning of each quarter-note triplet. If 4/4 (Common Time), you can play two quarter-note triplets. The snare drum accent marks the beginning of each quarter-note triplet. Now apply a sticking of alternating the right hand and right foot to the triplet.

Now if that sounds complicated it really isn’t. Think of Bonham’s triplets that alternate between the toms, bass and the snare. The fill sounds familiar and yet it is so distinct. I’ve been practicing and it takes time to get it as clean as Beard’s. I’m still working on it. If you watch this video Beard makes it look so easy at around 1:15.

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Get the Guru


I’ve recently become interested in using my iPhone for more than just a way to update my Facebook page. There are a lot of great drum apps out there from metronomes to tuners. One of the best is called the Drum Guru™. It is one of the most dynamic drum lesson tools I’ve ever seen. According to their website:

 Drum Guru™ is an online lesson site and app for Apple’s iPad and iPhone that features lesson “packs” taught by drummers demonstrating great grooves, fills, and sharing other insights and techniques. Each lesson demonstrates various techniques, groove playing, soloing, musical styles, and many other insights. Inside, you’ll find a variety of lessons in many different styles such as rock, jazz, funk and Latin, each presented in lessons specifically tailored for beginner, intermediate and advanced players. Each lesson pack features Lesson Mode and Practice Mode. In Lesson Mode, you will watch a video demonstrating the lesson, just as if you were in a private lesson with the instructor. In Practice Mode, you get to work on the lesson yourself – see the lesson music written out, and hear it played for you. You can pause, loop, and mix the music with metronome while you play-along.

The instructors offered on Drum Guru™ are some of the best in the business. This includes Stanton Moore, Gregg Bissonette and Mark Guiliana. The program in set up so that you can work at your own pace and move onto more complicated lessons as you become more comfortable with the material. They add:

Drum Guru™ is designed to work on the technology you already own. We offer a free app for iOS devices such as Apple’s iPad and iPhone, as well as a web-based lesson player that is compatible with all major web browsers available for Mac and Windows computers such as Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Edge, as well as all Android devices. An internet connection is required to view lesson content.

For more information, visit https://www.drumguru.com/.

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Checking In

It’s been a while since I posted anything and I wanted to stop by and let you know that I’m in the middle of transitioning into a new house and my time to blog has been few and far between. The exciting news is that we are moving into a six bedroom which means I’ll finally have a drum room all to myself. I have some posts lined up including product reviews and interviews and as soon as I am all settled in I’ll be back to my old blogging schedule. That may not be until later in the month. Thanks for your patience and continued support. Until then here’s Dr. Gadd laying down one of the sweetest grooves you’ll find on the net.

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Staccato Drums

Just before he died, Keith Moon had signed a contract to play a different set of British drums and move away from Premier. Staccato drums are made from fiberglass and are horn-loaded with a sort of trumpet end coming from their bottoms and at right angles to their heads; rather like the North drums built during the ‘70s in America. Unfortunately, the Staccato deal was suddenly nullified by the news of Moon’s tragic death. Today Staccato drums are still being manufactured. According to their website the drums work on something called the “kadency” principle, in which “a volume of air projected through a controlled expanding space will have a great effect on tonal resonance, distribution and power.” In drummers’ terms, clarity with loads of volume. The drums are custom made to order and are constructed in either glass fiber or carbon fiber.

Mitch Mitchell (Jimi Hendrix Experience) was the first drummer to ever play Staccatos live at the Golden Lion in Fulham, London in 1977. Simon Phillips (world-renowned session drummer) did a lot of studio work with his Staccato kit. John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) played them at Paul McCartney’s super sessions at Abbey Road Studios in the late 1970’s. Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden) played them with the French band Trust and did a great deal of testing in the recording studio. Bands that recorded music in the 1970’s and 80’s using Staccato drums include: Uriah Heep, Gary Numan, Bow Wow Wow, Yazz, Roxy Music, The Guess Who, Eurythmics, Malcolm McLaren Band and Spliff. Perhaps most interesting is that they appeared in the film “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”

For more information, visit the official Staccato website at https://www.staccatodrums.com/

There is even a German Staccato fan site that pays homage to the drums from around the world.

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Still Mmm-Mmm-Good

I got some good feedback on this one so I’m running it again but this time with the complete PDF. “Pea Soup” is a term used by some drummers to describe the sound that results from playing the hi-hat with lots of attitude in order to add “flavor” to the beat.

The playing style affectionately described as “pea soup” can be achieved in a variety of ways. Some drummers get this result by playing an open hi-hat sound, followed by a quick closed hi-hat sound. They may also strike the hi-hat cymbal with lots of attitude and focus on accenting the open sound to make the hi-hat “bark.” This can create different “colors” which means that a drummer can get a variety of different sounds out of the same drum or cymbal by simply striking it differently. You can use the pea soup approach to create two different colors by playing the open sound with the shank (or side) of the drumstick and the closed sound with the tip (or end) of the drumstick. You could also play the open sound on the edge of the hi-hat or strike the cymbal closer to the bell (or middle) of the hi-hat to achieve different sounds. While the concept of pea soup is simple, the level of difficulty can increase depending on how much flavor you want to add your beats. The most important thing to remember is not to over do it. A drummer must always maintain good time and meter. Too much extra flavor can interfere with the beat. Just like cooking a favorite recipe, you must use the right amount of ingredients. Practice with a metronome and find the right balance.

Below is an example of Pea Soup. Here is a PDF with a breakdown of each bar using our FUNdamentals notation. (Click image for full-size.)

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