If you want to be a drummer, the first things you need to learn are the essential drum rudiments. These are the beat combinations that you will use to smash out tunes. Most songs use a combination of the fundamental rudiments to create their beats.
But what are the most important drum rudiments and which ones should you start with while learning? Read on to find out, as well as our top tips for how to best practice your drum rudiments.
Remember that, in addition to learning and perfecting the essential building blocks of all drum beats, training on drum rudiments will develop your wrist agility, strengthen your hands, improve your stamina, tighten your grip, and develop your volume control.
The Most Important Drum Rudiments
According to Vic Firth, there are a total of 40 drum rudiments, and if you want to become an expert drummer, you will want to learn them all eventually. You can find Vic Firth’s full list here.
But, when you are just starting out, you should start with the easiest and most fundamental of these rudiments. When you master the basics first, the harder rudiments won’t seem so difficult and you will master them much quicker.
The following are the seven most basic and essential drum rudiments:
1. Single Stroke Roll
The single stroke roll is basically your standard alternating hand drum beat. If you are leading with the right hand, it will be RLRLRL, and if you are leading with the left hand, you will be hitting LRLRLR. But while the beat is simple, there is a lot to work on.
Practice this rudiment with a metronome to ensure that you’re keeping a steady beat. You can gradually increase the speed of the metronome to challenge yourself to play clean and even strokes.
It is also essential to work on raising both of your hands to the same height before making the stroke as this will control the volume of your hits. This is one of the most challenging new things to master for beginner drummers. It can be better to use a mirror to check your hand height rather than judge based on looking down.
Check out this YouTube tutorial for the Single Stroke Roll:
2. Double Stroke Roll
Once you have mastered the single stroke, you need to master the double stroke roll, which is hitting with the same hand twice in a row, so you will be playing RRLL and LLRR. With this, you should be working on mastering the bounceback of the stick to control the timing of your second hit.
Check out this double stroke roll tutorial rudiment for extra help:
Here, you should work on bringing these two beats together to try a harder rudiment connection. The paradiddle is a four articulation pattern that alternates the hands for three beats and then repeats the third. So you will want to play starting with the right hand, RLRRLRLL, or with the left, LRLLRLRR. This beat is often used as a way to switch your lead hand while playing.
Once you have mastered the standard paradiddle, there are a lot of variations to work on including the double and triple paradiddle, and the paradiddle-diddle.
Watch this paradiddle YouTube tutorial for extra guidance:
The Flam is the most important rudiment when it comes to adding color and dimension to your rhythms. It’s done by playing two strokes almost simultaneously. They are played on the same beat, with the first stroke, called the grace stroke, hitting just before the second. To enable the timing, the grace hand will be lower, which will also create a quieter complementary note.
The most basic combinations to train with the flam are (R)LRLR, (L)RR(R)LL, and (R)LL(L)RR. There are 10 flam-based rudiments on the list of 40.
Get a better feel for the flam by watching this YouTube tutorial:
5. Single Stroke Four
While most of the above rudiments rely on you learning to play an even beat, there are also beats to help you learn when to pause and let the silence be part of the music. The single stroke four is the best place to start with this, playing a simple triplet with an eighth note. Go for RLR L and LRL R.
Watch an online tutorial here:
6. Six Stroke Roll
The six stroke roll also lets you work on your pauses. Train with the right hand leading by playing R LL RR L, and then with the left hand leading with L RR LL R.
Watch an online tutorial here:
The drag is when you play a double note quickly in the space of one beat, followed by a single note of the same length making a “ra-ta-ta” sound. You can work on (LL)R and (RR)L.
Once you have mastered all of these rudiments, you will find that it is only a small step to some of the more complicated ones.
Watch an online tutorial here:
How To Train Your Rudiments
When you are just starting out, you can train your rudiments on pretty much any surface. But the rebound that you get off a pad or air drum sticks won’t be the same as when you play on a real kit, so you will want to progress to that as soon as you can.
Check out our recommendations for the best electronic drum pads for training here.
When you are ready, start out on your snare drum. This is the easiest place to master the fundamentals before moving forward. If you have mastered your rudiments on a pad, practice them on the snare drum until they feel good there too.
From the snare drum, you will want to progress to the toms and the hi-hat. You might want to work them individually first, as they will have a different bounce back and a different hand height that you will want to maintain to get your desired volume. Once you have a feel for this, you can work your combinations on multiple drums, combining snare and hi-hat, and snare and tom.
While this will help you master your hand work, you also need to think about the bass. The most basic rudiment to work with the bass is hitting the base on each upbeat and the hi-hat on each down beat. Once this feels good at various speeds, it’s time to combine the bass with your other rudiments.
What rudiments should I learn first?
While you will eventually want to master all 40 of the drumming rudiments, start with the basic essentials including the single stroke roll, double stroke roll, paradiddle, and flam stroke.
What is the 80/20 rule in drumming?
The 80/20 rule in drumming suggests that you should spend 20 percent of your time on technique training and 80% of your time learning how to play songs, which will force you to apply your technical training in different contexts.
How long should I practice rudiments?
Rudiments are best practiced with the “little and often approach.” Spend at least 10 minutes on your rudiments at the start of any drumming session before you start working on songs.
What is the hardest part of learning to play the drums?
While the challenge for each person will be different, most agree that developing the coordination to play multiple rhythms at once is the hardest new skill to master on the drums.
Should I practice drums every day?
A consistent and regular practice is ideal for learning the drums, and committing to trying to practice every day is a great place to start. However, don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day for reasons beyond your control. Missing a day here or there won’t set back your progress.
The Verdict On Drum Rudiments
When you start on the journey of learning to play the drums, it’s important to get the fundamentals right. Taking time to master rudimentals is part of that process. Rudimentals are the hand beat combinations that you will use when building notes up into a song. They are only little hand combinations, but if you master them, in theory you can play anything.
There are 40 established rudimentals, and you will want to learn them all, but start with the most accessible. If you take the time to master these, the more complex rudimentals will feel almost basic when you come to them.
Looking for a way to learn drumming online? Check out our recommendations for the best online drumming classes here.