Learn the Drumming Basics!





Introduction: Learn the Drumming Basics!

About: R.I.P. James Owen Sullivan Aka The Rev Drummer For Avenged Sevenfold February 10, 1981 - December 28, 2009 "Dear God, I pray James "The Rev" Sullivan is in a little piece of heaven in the afterlife making t...

Drums and percussion are the oldest form of instruments. As time went on, drums were made with newer and newer materials, until there were medals, plastics, and many others.

In this instructable I will teach you both about drum anatomy and how to play the drums.

Step 1: Pick Your Size Drum Stick

Okay, so there are many sizes of drumsticks. They will have markings such as 5b, 7a, and many others. Go to a music store like Sam Ash or Guitar Center. Go to the place with the sticks. Slide them out of the holders (usually no wrappers or tape). Some sticks may be to thick, some may be too thin.

Also, figure out how heavy you like them. If your favorite size is 5a, find 5a sticks that are your liking of weight. It makes a large difference

Signature sticks only come in one size, so if you want those awesome Joey Jordison Signature sticks, and you don't like the size, then don't buy them, or buy them and showcase them.

Sticks make a huge difference. If it is too thick, you are not capable of doing what you can do with the size you are comfortable with. Sticks that are too thin can make you feel like you are hitting nothing but air, and it is weird.

Step 2: Learning the Basic Pieces - Pt. 1

The first piece I will show you is one of the most common used parts. It is called the Snare drum.

The snare is basically a regular drum, except it has multiple (usually approx. 10) springs going across the bottom head. The diagram below shows what the snare looks like.
The top looks like a regular drum. The bottom is identical to the top, except it has springs.
On the side of the snare is a snare switch. When the lever is up, the spring is against the drum to make it sound different, instead of a "tom". You will learn about the tom in the next step.

Step 3: The Toms

The toms are kind of like a snare, but no springs. The toms are almost always diagonal from the snare. On the standard kit, there are 3 toms. 2 toms are on top of the bass drum (learned in the next step). These are sometimes called "tom-toms". The third one is always on long legs on the floor. This one is called the floor tom. The tom-tom/floor toms can be used with or without the bottom head. The diagram below shows a diagram of all 3 toms. The first tom is always the smallest. Second is always mediumist. And the floor tom is always the largest.

First pic: Diagram of a tom
Second: Picture of a floor tom (not my picture)

Step 4: Bass Drum

The bass drum is always the largest drum on the set. There are many different sounds it can make. Like a boom, thud, etc. This is under the toms, and is in between the floor tom and snare. The bass drum is different than other drums. Instead of hitting it with a stick, you stomp on the pedal. People who play rock drums, rap drums, country drums, etc, only have 1 bass drum. Some people who play metal have either 2 bass drums, or something called a double bass pedal. The double bass pedal is one pedal, connected to another by a rotating pole. When the pole rotates, it triggers the left hammer. Below are pictures of a single drum single pedal bass drum, a single drum double pedal bass drum, and 2 bass drums with a single pedal on both.

First: Double pedal
Second: Set with 2 bass drums
Third: Set with 1 bass drum
Fourth: Single pedal

Step 5: Cymbals

Cymbals are metal sheets, usually slightly rounded. There are MANY MANY different type of cymbals

Hi - Hat (most important)

The hi hat is 2 cymbals facing each other. It has a pedal at the bottom of the stand. What the pedal does, is if you do not step on the pedal, the cymbals do not touch each other. If you do step on it, the cymbals do touch each other. The closed (cymbals touching) hi hat when you step on it can be used with any genre except metal. If you open the hi hat, it can be used on anything.
The crash is a cymbal you hit to spice up the rhythm, to make the beat more flamboyant and "un-dull" it. There are many variations of the crash.
One variation is the splash. The splash is very small. The range of size is about 3 inches to about 8 inches. It makes a higher pitched sound.
Another variation of the crash is the china. The china is like a normal splash or crash, except the edges are large "mountains". This also makes a high pitch sound.
A different kind of cymbal is the ride. The ride is like a large crash, except it is thicker. Near the center hole of the cymbal is a hill called the "bell". The bell, well sounds like a bell. The ride usually is not used like a crash. It is used like a high hat.

First Picture: High hat
Second: Crash
Third: Ride
Fourth: Splash
Fifth: China

Step 6: Learn the Set With a Video Tutorial

This video is a video I made and posted onto YouTube.

Step 7: Beats - Part One - Preparation



For beats, you want to start off by playing the high hat for a long period of time. Get used to timing. Don't rush. Timing is important because the drummer is the most important part of a band. The drummer sets the tempo. Now, when getting used to timing, use one hand, and once you can play the high hat for a long period of time without speeding up or slowing down, play a roll with both hands. Try to do this without speeding up or slowing down

Step 8: Beats - Part 2 - Basic Beats

Playing beats

Now, to playing actual beats. Do what you learned to do for preparation. Count aloud "1-2-3-4 1-2-3-4 1-2-3-4 1-2-3-4". Keep playing and on beats "1" and "3", play the bass drum. On the other 2 beats, AKA 3 and 4, play the snare. You should have this:

Hi hat and snare
hi hat and bass
hi hat and snare

Now, notice how there is one hi hat hit in between Each snare hit. Now try doing two. It will help to count "1-2-3 1-2-3 1-2-3". Play the bass drum on 2 and 3. Play the snare on 1. Keep repeating. This is what you will get:

Hi hat and snare
hi hat and bass
hi hat and bass
hi hat and snare

The most used beat would be with 3 hi hat hits in between snare hits. For this you can count 1-2-3-4 like the first beat. You can play the snare on 1,2,3, or 4. Then, after the snare hit, play one hi hat play the bass drum. You will get this

Hi hat and snare
hi hat
hi hat and bass
hi hat
hi hat and snare

Step 9: Fills - Part 1 - Preparation


Fills are chunks of time used to spice up music so that it doesn't get to boring. They are sometimes fast, and use many different drums. This instructable is for the beginner, so I will only show 3 types of fills (one not mentioned in video)


First you will learn "16th notes". Play a steady beat on the bass drum only. Play it about 1/4 the speed of a regular beat. You will notice that this is very slow. To play 16th notes, you will learn that each beat has 4 hits. So, keep time with the bass drum, then add the snare. This what a 16th note roll looks like:

Bass and snare (right hand)
Snare (left)
Snare (right)
Snare (left)
Bass and snare (right)

This is a 16th note roll.

Step 10: Fills - Part 2 - Playing Fills

Playing fills

The first fill you can use can simply be the preparation

The second, what you can do is switch it up. Play a steady beat on the bass, play 4 on the snare, 4 on the left tom, 4 on the right tom, and 4 on the floor tom. You will get this

Bass and snare
bass and left tom
left tom
left tom
left tom
bass and right tom
right tom
right tom
right tom
bass and floor tom
floor tom
floor tom
floor tom.

You can improvise and play something with the bass like snare x2, left tom x6, then right tom x8. Or you can be random like, snare, floor tom, snare right tom, snare left tom, etc.

The other 2 types of fills use double bass. If you do not have a double bass then move on.

The first one is like the other type of fill, but with stick used drums, and double pedal. An idea you can use is 4 hits on the snare, 4 hits on the double bass, then 4 hits on the snare. Now switch up the drums. Bass drum x4 snare x4 bass drum right tom x4. Switch drums, and switch up different pieces of the drums to use.

The last kind of fill is very VERY complicated. I call them triplets (but they are quads). Practice with the single pedal first. First what you do is play snare and one of the toms, and as fast as you can, play the bass. So you get snare, tom, bass, in a very quick motion. Get it evenly timed, and it will sound very neat. Once you get timing, instead of just playing the single pedal ,play a double hit on the double pedal. Then play a solo using this kind of fill. To be honest with you, I have been practicing this technique for about 5 months, and sometimes I still have trouble getting the timing, but I almost have it down.

Step 11:

Instead of having everything on the same beat, you can add hits in between hi hat hits. Now take the first first first first beat I taught you and play the pattern once. On the second time, instead of playing 1 bass hit hit 2... but do not change the speed of the high hat or add any hits. You do that by playing the double hit fast. So you get a bass hit, an immediate bass with no other drum, then hi hat and snare. Play bass, then snare, but then we switch it up. After the snare hit play this pattern: bass, hi hat, bass, then hi hat and snare. Play that pattern faster than the rest of the beat, but the same as when you double the bass. You will get this

Bass and hi hat
snare and hi hat
bass and hi hat
immediate bass (alone)
hi hat and snare
bass and hi hat
snare and hi hat
immediate hi hat
immediate bass
snare and hi hatt

The way this beat is written, it looks complicated, and seems long. But remember, some parts are fast.

Do not forget, you can also do this to the snare. Use the beat I showed you with the three hi hat hits in between snare hits. Play that as many times as you want, and after you hit the snare with the hi hat, you hit this faster then the rest of the beat:

hi hat
hi hat
hi hat and bass
hi hat and snare

If you play this you may recognize this beat and realize you have heard it before in many songs.

One last thing you can do, are fast snare doubles. Just play 2 fast snare hits in between any 2 beats. When doing this play the doubles a tad softer...

Now, there is a beat that is disco-ish. It involves a constant roll on the high hat. This beat can start off with a roll of 3 hits, 4 hits (most common), and other hits. But after the beginning hits, there is a snare hit. Following that are usually 6 hi hat hits, snare, 6 hi hat hits, snare, etc. Add bass wherever you are comfortable. It will sound like

ticka ticka ticka pfff ticka ticka ticka pff.

The last beat will be with double bass. It is very simple.... play the first beat I tough you, and after each beat, play 2 double bass hits. Play this at a steady pass and you will have a simple yet effective metal beat.

Step 12: Learn Simple Beats and Fills With a Video Tutorial!

I will go over counting, and basic rolls. For you who have double bass, I have 1 double bass beat. and 1 type of double bass fill!



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    If you would like to check it out, I wrote a very easy to follow, step-by-step book for beginner drummers called Drumopedia. It is 23 chapters.

    1 reply

    Hi thanks for the instructable it has been really helpful.

    I got a bit lost with step 11, I think because there is a lot of text and I'm not clear on the 'units' - maybe a graph version would help, either as tab, or using something like the editor in garage band:

    HH      x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x
    Snare x                  x
    BD               x                      x 

    It probably won't line up right in a comments field. But hopefully you see what I mean. However this is a minor comment, and your tutorial has been a great help :-)

    learn to count quarter notes go 1 2 3 4 eighth notes are the same but with an and in between every note1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and sixteenth notes go 1e and a 2 e and a 3 e and a 4 e and a

    I deleted the account

    Videos have been removed...?
    And as a drummer myself, this is a good tutorial, but the cymbal section could use some work. Maybe add something like sizzles for hihats, or how to determine a good sounding cymbal from a bad one, etc. And pretty much all cymbals have bells except for flat rides. Not just regular rides.

    3 replies
    Yeah, i deleted my account on accident. I thought I was logged on a backup account :S

    And... I may add that info. It just may not be right away.

    Thanks for the suggestions! Did you wanna see a drum solo of mine on youtube?

    Well... I have a few so i'll just give you a link to my channel.


    i sugest getting some of those plastic e-rings, by evans. they stop thohse annoying drum overtones. other than that, great tutorial! loved it.

    1 reply

    Hmm... Next time I can get some new stuff for my set, I will look into that. But first, my dad is taking me out to get hi hats one of these weeks. I have been waiting since summer started. And I'm glad you liked it!

    I did enjoy your instructable! I have always wondered about drum sets and how different sounds are put together. You did a great job demonstrating how a beat sequence is built up from individual hits! Thanks for your efforts!! Oh, FYI, I am an "OLD" guy, with remaining curiosities, and you have just helped cure one of them. Thanks again! -fab

    3 replies

    Thanks! And if it isn't too much, can you please click the Vote Now button at the top? It would mean alot.

    Vote done. Another Justin! Didn't notice that before...also my son's name! Keep up the practice! -fab

    Thanks! Haha, too many Justin's I've known. In elementary school there was me, a kid in my class, a kid 2 years younger than me, a kid 2 years OLDER than me, a kid on my soccer team, uhhh yeah. Haha.