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Thread: What makes a good drummer good?

  1. #1

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    Default What makes a good drummer good?

    What makes a good drummer a good drummer?

    Is it how many complicated tricky beats you can play?

    Is it playing faster than anyone else?

    Is it twirling your sticks so much people think you escaped from a Chinese circus?

    Is it having so many drums that you can't even play them all?

    Is it playing drums solos made up of memorized drum licks that are stitched together so the result is something that sounds like an expensive drum machine?

    What do you think?

  2. #2

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    Default Re: What makes a good drummer good?

    Almost NONE of the above.........and my opinion is provided to me by a collection of percussion instructors from my college days, most notably, an older gentleman that was a master at teaching jazz set drumming............

    The jazz/swing drummer must provide three important components to the band (I also believe these to be true for the drummers in pop/rock bands -- listed below in order of priority):

    1) TEMPO -- first and foremost, the tempo must be correct and consistent. The winds and brass may hold the steering wheel, but the rhythm section has the gas and the brakes.

    2) CUES -- the drummer of any combo is relied upon to provide many cues to the other players...........he is not alone in this role, but used most often.

    3) FILLS -- great drummers can create great fills, but only after the tempo and the cues are mastered........many times, the cue is the fill (or conversely, the fill is the cue). When tempo, cues, and fills are comfortably provided and accepted, the band has a good drummer.
    Gretsch USA & Zildjian
    (What Else Would I Ever Need ?)


  3. #3

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    I think it's a great open ended question because it really depends on a lot...
    14pc Yamaha Maple Custom Vintage (24pc in total) | 12pc PDP X7 | 9pc Ludwig Jr. | 9pc Pork Pie ZebraWood | 6pc Sonor |5pc PDP Concept Maple Classic | 5pc Ddrum Dominion | 5pc Orbitone |4pc Sonor Martini | 65 Snare drums and growing!

  4. #4

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    Default Re: What makes a good drummer good?

    I’m with Ricardo on this. I would only add a couple things;
    1) a good drummer plays for the song. That may mean zero fills....or it may mean a few simple ones. It rarely means complicated beats and fancy fills (but it might). It may mean lots of dynamics or no dynamics. It always requires a “feel” for the song in the context of what & how the rest of the band is playing. Which brings me to #2....
    2) a good drummer can sit down behind a kit and play any song, even songs he doesn’t know or has never heard before. He always listens to what the rest of the instruments playing and plays off of them. He will hold it all together and make it all work. He doesn’t need to know the song because he’s attentive and adaptive. He can read everyone else and anticipate where they’re going.
    -Brian

    "Too many crappy used drum stuff to list"

    Play the SONG......not the DRUMS!!!

    "I think that feeling is a lot more important than technique. It's all very well doing a triple paradiddle - but who's going to know you've done it? If you play technically you sound like everybody else. It's being original that counts." ~ John Bonham

  5. #5

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    Default Re: What makes a good drummer good?

    I agree with everything that Ricky and Brian said (wrote). Zack, you have to be more specific. J/K (maybe)

    I lived by 2 rules:

    1) Listen to the music, it will always tell you what to do.

    2) Keep the customer satisfied.

    Worked for me for 40+ years.
    YOU MESS WITH THE DEVIL YOU KNOW.

    YOU DON'T MESS WITH THE DEVIL YOU DON'T KNOW.

    VAE VICTIS

    ONCE YOU HIT A CERTAIN AGE, YOU BECOME PERMANENTLY UNIMPRESSED BY A LOT OF CRAP.

    I HIT THAT AGE 20 YEARS AGO.

  6. #6

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    Default Re: What makes a good drummer good?

    well here's where I was going with it...

    Are you an entertainer and in a band having fun for laughs? Then maybe being the best stick twirling arm wailing guy is good. Like "The drummer at the wrong gig" he's playing the most straight forward easiest drum beat but then to be entertaining he's a wild man. Now is that impressive to me? No, it's over kill even for me. But to a non drummer he's AMAZING and OMG LOOK AT HOW AWESOME HE IS... .

    Now, lets talk speed... is speed necessary?! No, but Guys like Chris Coleman and Tony Royster Jr or Aaron Spears. Is speed necessary to be good?! No... but in their style/genre and music it's bad to the bone and they are amazing good/great drummers... Again now think of Buddy Rich, he was a jazz drummer but had the fastest hands I had ever seen and showed his speed everywhere. . .

    But then you have so many more categories... I think what makes a good drummer is if what he is doing for what it fits is good. I don't know how to word what I'm thinking. . . blah.
    14pc Yamaha Maple Custom Vintage (24pc in total) | 12pc PDP X7 | 9pc Ludwig Jr. | 9pc Pork Pie ZebraWood | 6pc Sonor |5pc PDP Concept Maple Classic | 5pc Ddrum Dominion | 5pc Orbitone |4pc Sonor Martini | 65 Snare drums and growing!

  7. #7

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    Default Re: What makes a good drummer good?

    A few years back, I played in a band with a really good guitarist/singer/songwriter.
    He also knew the fundamentals around the drum set.
    He taught his young son how to play the set.......however........the kid would practice only the show-off "WOW" moves.
    Speed and fills with speed.................for a kid yet to enter high school, he had some impressive chops.
    But when you heard him play a "song", the kid would shift tempo all over the place.........no steady meter at all.
    I couldn't stand to listen to him.............his tempo would ruin everything else.............and his practice time was spent on "everything else".
    His only priority was clearly just showing off.
    So -- back to my original reply -- first and foremost is the tempo.
    After that, the cues and the fills, when necessary (as N2Bluz added).
    Gretsch USA & Zildjian
    (What Else Would I Ever Need ?)


  8. #8

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    Default Re: What makes a good drummer good?

    It depends. Don't think that there is one answer for this.

  9. #9

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    Default Re: What makes a good drummer good?

    Quote Originally Posted by SpazApproved View Post
    well here's where I was going with it...

    Are you an entertainer and in a band having fun for laughs? Then maybe being the best stick twirling arm wailing guy is good. Like "The drummer at the wrong gig" he's playing the most straight forward easiest drum beat but then to be entertaining he's a wild man. Now is that impressive to me? No, it's over kill even for me. But to a non drummer he's AMAZING and OMG LOOK AT HOW AWESOME HE IS... .

    Now, lets talk speed... is speed necessary?! No, but Guys like Chris Coleman and Tony Royster Jr or Aaron Spears. Is speed necessary to be good?! No... but in their style/genre and music it's bad to the bone and they are amazing good/great drummers... Again now think of Buddy Rich, he was a jazz drummer but had the fastest hands I had ever seen and showed his speed everywhere. . .

    But then you have so many more categories... I think what makes a good drummer is if what he is doing for what it fits is good. I don't know how to word what I'm thinking. . . blah.
    I think you explained it well. It’s like asking what makes a good car. A Corvette is a good car if you’re driving fast on a twisty road....but it sucks if you’re going to Home Depot to buy lumber. Regardless, if it doesn’t run or isn’t dependable, it’s no good. I suppose that would equate to tempo. But...if it’s just a show car, then style is all that matters. Everything has context.
    -Brian

    "Too many crappy used drum stuff to list"

    Play the SONG......not the DRUMS!!!

    "I think that feeling is a lot more important than technique. It's all very well doing a triple paradiddle - but who's going to know you've done it? If you play technically you sound like everybody else. It's being original that counts." ~ John Bonham

  10. #10

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    Default Re: What makes a good drummer good?

    Quote Originally Posted by N2Bluz View Post
    I think you explained it well. It’s like asking what makes a good car. A Corvette is a good car if you’re driving fast on a twisty road....but it sucks if you’re going to Home Depot to buy lumber. Regardless, if it doesn’t run or isn’t dependable, it’s no good. I suppose that would equate to tempo. But...if it’s just a show car, then style is all that matters. Everything has context.
    exactly! Everything and everyone has a purpose regardless how big or small. If it does that purpose it's good.
    14pc Yamaha Maple Custom Vintage (24pc in total) | 12pc PDP X7 | 9pc Ludwig Jr. | 9pc Pork Pie ZebraWood | 6pc Sonor |5pc PDP Concept Maple Classic | 5pc Ddrum Dominion | 5pc Orbitone |4pc Sonor Martini | 65 Snare drums and growing!

  11. #11

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    Default Re: What makes a good drummer good?

    Then Vinnie Colaiuta is an all terrain vehicle and like the James Bond car that can go underwater....lol

  12. #12

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    Default Re: What makes a good drummer good?

    Quote Originally Posted by Olimpass View Post
    Then Vinnie Colaiuta is an all terrain vehicle and like the James Bond car that can go underwater....lol
    And I am a Honda Accord, nothing fancy, but reliable and gets the job done.


    DW Design Tama Silverstar Limited Edition Mirage Tama Superstar Gretsch Catalina Ash Slingerland

    Yamaha DTX532k Roland SPD-SX Sample Pad Roland PD-85 and KD9 pads (x3) Alessis Sample Pad

    Tama SLP Black Brass snare Tama SLP G Maple snare Rukus Santos/Bubinga/Poplar/Wenge snare

    Tama and DW hardware

    Zildjian A Series, A Custom and K Custom


    Miktek, Audix and Shure Mics

  13. #13

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    Default Re: What makes a good drummer good?

    What's the question that cannot be answered?
    Signature here

  14. #14

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    Default Re: What makes a good drummer good?

    Quote Originally Posted by aboveforever View Post
    What makes a good drummer a good drummer?

    Is it how many complicated tricky beats you can play?

    Is it playing faster than anyone else?

    Is it twirling your sticks so much people think you escaped from a Chinese circus?

    Is it having so many drums that you can't even play them all?

    Is it playing drums solos made up of memorized drum licks that are stitched together so the result is something that sounds like an expensive drum machine?

    What do you think?
    I think if someone plays tricky beats and it makes them happy, I'm all for it. It can also get them more gigs if the bands they're playing with require more technique from them to play the music. Same with twirling the sticks. If it brings them happiness, I support them. It also adds a visual element to their performance and makes them more entertaining to watch from the audience's perspective (we are entertainers after all). Lots of drums? Sure, why not. They can either play them all and make them sound musical or maybe the drums simply look good on stage and provide the same entertainment value as mentioned above. As far as playing drums with memorized licks, if that's their style and what they choose to do, I support it. Some drummers (even famous drummers) play their solos more methodically and you can tell that they memorize large chunks of their solo rather than improvise as they go. While it's not my approach, I respect theirs.
    - Tom

    Everyone loves FREE... like this free drum forum. But like your car and even your drums, they require upkeep and maintenance and that requires money.

    Will you consider Shopping at Drum Bum to help support this forum?

    Or make a donation here.



    I know from working with Drum Bum through the years, that this forum is costly to run. It requires server fees, hosting, ongoing moderation, advertising, software upgrades, security certificates and IT work when it breaks. All in addition to the expenses that come from running a business. These costs are offset (hopefully) by members that click through to Drum Bum to make a purchase now and then, if not make a contribution to help keep it running.

    On behalf of Drum Bum, thank you for your consideration.


  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by nubdrummer View Post
    And I am a Honda Accord, nothing fancy, but reliable and gets the job done
    I might be a go cart?...lol

  16. #16

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    This pretty much exemplifies my drumming prowess
    CBA49B32-4039-4BAB-9243-63730724C3BE.jpg
    -Brian

    "Too many crappy used drum stuff to list"

    Play the SONG......not the DRUMS!!!

    "I think that feeling is a lot more important than technique. It's all very well doing a triple paradiddle - but who's going to know you've done it? If you play technically you sound like everybody else. It's being original that counts." ~ John Bonham

  17. #17

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    I like that Brian. 3.14+8 3/4 (5xwhatever)= ~111_5 2/3 /^%x7. It's a difficult tempo not heard since we lived in trees, but, it can be played.
    YOU MESS WITH THE DEVIL YOU KNOW.

    YOU DON'T MESS WITH THE DEVIL YOU DON'T KNOW.

    VAE VICTIS

    ONCE YOU HIT A CERTAIN AGE, YOU BECOME PERMANENTLY UNIMPRESSED BY A LOT OF CRAP.

    I HIT THAT AGE 20 YEARS AGO.

  18. #18

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    Default Re: What makes a good drummer good?

    Quote Originally Posted by rickthedrummer View Post
    I like that Brian. 3.14+8 3/4 (5xwhatever)= ~111_5 2/3 /^%x7. It's a difficult tempo not heard since we lived in trees, but, it can be played.
    I tell everyone that as a drummer, I’ve Progressed beyond traditionally excepted boundaries of tempo deviation. I call it the “living tempo technique”. It means that my inability to maintain a steady and consistent tempo is no longer a detriment, but natural ability.
    -Brian

    "Too many crappy used drum stuff to list"

    Play the SONG......not the DRUMS!!!

    "I think that feeling is a lot more important than technique. It's all very well doing a triple paradiddle - but who's going to know you've done it? If you play technically you sound like everybody else. It's being original that counts." ~ John Bonham

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by N2Bluz View Post
    I tell everyone that as a drummer, I’ve Progressed beyond traditionally excepted boundaries of tempo deviation. I call it the “living tempo technique”. It means that my inability to maintain a steady and consistent tempo is no longer a detriment, but natural ability.
    That's good! I'm going to have to use that!
    - Tom

    Everyone loves FREE... like this free drum forum. But like your car and even your drums, they require upkeep and maintenance and that requires money.

    Will you consider Shopping at Drum Bum to help support this forum?

    Or make a donation here.



    I know from working with Drum Bum through the years, that this forum is costly to run. It requires server fees, hosting, ongoing moderation, advertising, software upgrades, security certificates and IT work when it breaks. All in addition to the expenses that come from running a business. These costs are offset (hopefully) by members that click through to Drum Bum to make a purchase now and then, if not make a contribution to help keep it running.

    On behalf of Drum Bum, thank you for your consideration.


  20. #20

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    Default Re: What makes a good drummer good?

    And like many cars, I come with CVT (Continuously Variable Tempo) standard.


    DW Design Tama Silverstar Limited Edition Mirage Tama Superstar Gretsch Catalina Ash Slingerland

    Yamaha DTX532k Roland SPD-SX Sample Pad Roland PD-85 and KD9 pads (x3) Alessis Sample Pad

    Tama SLP Black Brass snare Tama SLP G Maple snare Rukus Santos/Bubinga/Poplar/Wenge snare

    Tama and DW hardware

    Zildjian A Series, A Custom and K Custom


    Miktek, Audix and Shure Mics

  21. #21

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    Default Re: What makes a good drummer good?

    None of those choices.

    Good time
    Good feel
    Playing for the song with dynamics
    Knowing when to lay back and when to step up the plate
    Having big ears to listen to what's going on around you
    Being a positive force in the band so people will want to play music with you
    Someone who's not an a-hole.

    If you can do those things, you'll work. 95% of the bands out there don't want a stunning technician. They want a drummer who can make the rest of the band sound good and someone who is easy to get along with.
    DW Drummer Signing Off

  22. #22

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    Default Re: What makes a good drummer good?

    Quote Originally Posted by DrumBob View Post
    None of those choices.

    Good time
    Good feel
    Playing for the song with dynamics
    Knowing when to lay back and when to step up the plate
    Having big ears to listen to what's going on around you
    Being a positive force in the band so people will want to play music with you
    Someone who's not an a-hole.

    If you can do those things, you'll work. 95% of the bands out there don't want a stunning technician. They want a drummer who can make the rest of the band sound good and someone who is easy to get along with.
    Amen. And if you're a stunning technician, it's even better. There's nothing like having the chops when your band needs them.
    - Tom

    Everyone loves FREE... like this free drum forum. But like your car and even your drums, they require upkeep and maintenance and that requires money.

    Will you consider Shopping at Drum Bum to help support this forum?

    Or make a donation here.



    I know from working with Drum Bum through the years, that this forum is costly to run. It requires server fees, hosting, ongoing moderation, advertising, software upgrades, security certificates and IT work when it breaks. All in addition to the expenses that come from running a business. These costs are offset (hopefully) by members that click through to Drum Bum to make a purchase now and then, if not make a contribution to help keep it running.

    On behalf of Drum Bum, thank you for your consideration.


  23. #23

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    Default Re: What makes a good drummer good?

    I’m like a retired Butcher.....I got no chops.
    -Brian

    "Too many crappy used drum stuff to list"

    Play the SONG......not the DRUMS!!!

    "I think that feeling is a lot more important than technique. It's all very well doing a triple paradiddle - but who's going to know you've done it? If you play technically you sound like everybody else. It's being original that counts." ~ John Bonham

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