Bassist Learning Drums-Help Me Make the Transition

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Godbody, Jul 30, 2009.

  1. Godbody


    May 27, 2008
    I know there's a few bassists out there who occasionally do double duty as drummers (and a few who swing the other way too).

    I'm looking at starting a new band, and are in short supply. So this week I borrowed a friend's spare kit and started pounding the skins. So far I can hold a fairly steady, basic 4/4 beat.

    I need some tips on how to self-train myself on the drums. I've been playing along with a few songs, then trying to assemble some of my own basic beats, but I haven't really done anything you'd call exercises.

    I'm sure I'm not the only bass player who'll add drums to his repertoire, so hopefully this thread will be useful to others.

    So let the free advice fly!


    Feb 2, 2005
    S. Carolina
    Is there no drum player forum for this question and better help for this man?
  3. I started playing drums a couple years ago after about 7 years as a bassist.
    It's made a me a better bass player for sure, and it's a lot of fun.

    Here's some random tips from me:
    -Practice with a metronome! As important as this is for bass players, it's 100x time more important for drummers. I'd say it's absolutely essential. You are doing the job of that metronome and you need to learn to imitate it.
    -Be able to play quarter notes on the hi-hat. Most of the time drummers default to an 8th note pattern on the hats or ride. Using quarter notes will force you to count more.
    -Don't be afraid to count out loud. It helps a lot.
    -Always try and keep tight and consistent as you learn new beats. Start with a hi-hat count and count for a few bars before you start a beat.
    -As important as fills and rudiments are, start by learning basic beats. They will serve you through a whole song; learning a crazy fill will serve you for about 2 seconds.

    -Start with the basic rock beat (kick on 1, snare on 3). You may end up counting it as kick on 1, snare on 2, repeat. Right now it doesn't matter how you count it, just that you do. After you can start to work on 8th notes on the kick drum. Try a Kick, snare, Kick Kick snare pattern.
    That's a 1, 2, 3 & 4 move that around and work on some variations.
    -at the same time you can also work on 8th note snare patterns in the same way - I find these come more naturally than kick patterns, so that's why I suggested working on those first.
    -After you feel like you've gotten the hang of 8th note kick patterns, and you've been playing for a while now, start working on 16th note kick patterns. That's where you get your 'delayed/hanging' sounding beat, like a: Kick, snare... kick snare.i e:

    Sounds more complicated than it really is. These will happen accidentally, sound good, and then you just need to focus on honing in on them.

    At the same time as all these, you can be working on tom fills, too. Try and keep them even, and play them with a click. Most 'noob' drummers (myself included) tend to rush their rills. Playing them as steady 8th notes will sound too slow at first, but once you play them with a band and hear them click, you'll be amazing.

    Work on your stepped hi-hat with a simple back and forth kick hat pattern. Play 8th notes and alternate left and right feet back and forth, K H K H K H etc

    Finally, listen to lots of good drummers and pay attention to what they are doing.
    In my style of music the kick is the most important part but you may have other influences, which is fine.

    Good luck! Playing drums is a lot of fun, just keep working at it and you'll have the basics down pretty fast.
    MarkyDynaBass likes this.
  4. Godbody


    May 27, 2008
    Uh, the half dozen or so drum forums that I've checked out are awful, with practically no traffic to boot. I come to Talkbass with my guitar questions too; hell, I'd come here first if I had bagpipe-related questions.

    Megadan, thanks for the tips! I have to buy a new metronome, mine finally broke some months ago.
  5. slacka


    Oct 9, 2013
    Another good thing to practice is going from quarter notes on the hi-hat TO eighth notes on the hi-hat, while keeping the snare at the same pace. It's really helpful when playing faster stuff or when your stamina is still kinda low. You can always fall back to a bar of quarter notes to rest and then get back to the eighth notes.
  6. bkbirge


    Jun 25, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Steak n Shake has a nice active forum

    That said, megadan's advice seems pretty spot on to me. I've been playing drums for less than a year, you can hear my drumming get more solid as the year went on if you listen to the tunes in my sig, though I'm still pretty unsteady a lot of times.

    If it was up to me to decide what other instrument besides bass that you should play to make yourself a better bass player, #1 would be piano, #2 would be drums.

    Plus, drums are just super fun in a way that almost no other instrument is. Pissed at the ex? 20 minutes of 120bpm polka beats. Job going nowhere? 20 minutes of 85bpm swing. You get to hit things hard and it's considered positive.

    +10,000 on the metronome. Work those beats at lots of different speeds, especially uncomfortably slow.

    I think the biggest difference between playing drums and bass in a band setting is that ideally with drums you should be the one completely in charge of the pulse, or at the very least have the most to say about where it's going. As someone used to leaning on the drums for timing it's a shift in mindset to become the person that others can lean on. That's where your metronome studies become mandatory.
    MarkyDynaBass likes this.