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5 Punk Drumming Tips For Beginners (And Beyond)

Dave Atkinson  /  UPDATED Jun 27, 2023

There are a few key ways to become a faster and tighter punk drummer. And no, it’s not by drinking and moshing more.

If you’re into bands like NOFX, Black Flag and Blink-182, this lesson will be right up your alley. Here are five punk drumming tips to help you play along to the songs you love (and get the gig with your favorite local punk band).

1. Master your bass drum double strokes

The best punk drummers have a blazing fast foot. Solve your bass drum problems and you’ll solve your punk drumming problems! Use the slide technique or the heel-toe technique to get two strokes for the price of one.

punk drum beat
A basic punk drum beat

2. Learn these two classic punk beats

Focus on nailing these two beats:

  • Bass, snare, bass bass snare, like in “Linoleum” by NOFX and the chorus of “Anthem” by Blink-182 (the beat from tip 1)
  • Bass, snare bass, bass snare, like in “Nothing” by Millencolin where the bass drum lands on the and of 2 and the and of 3).
punk beat
Another popular punk beat

3. Learn how to use punk beats musically

Yep…you can be musical in punk. Combine the two beats above into a 2-bar phrase and maybe play a polka beat before going into them. If you need a break from double strokes, simplify the bass drum and match the guitar rhythms. If the guitar does a push, have your kick do a push.

You can also mix and match by moving your lead hand to the toms or on the ride or crash – don’t just rely on the hi-hat. You can also go into a half-time version of the beat if you want to drop the energy or change the feel of the song.

punk beat
Combining two basic punk beats
Travis Barker dresses up punk beats with other musical ideas

4. Master the ‘reverse shank tip

Playing a fast hi-hat part at 200+ will burn out your arm if you’re trying to go full throttle with just your wrist. Like how the double stroke is a must for your feet, the shank tip is a must for your hands.

The typical shank tip technique is where you use the shank (shoulder) of the stick for the first hit and the tip of the stick for the second hit. In the reverse shank tip, place the accent (shank) on the upbeat instead of on the downbeat. Think of it like matching it with your backbeat hand. This method preserves your energy so you can play longer and avoid injury.

Example of Josh Freese playing with a ‘reverse shank tip’ technique on the hi-hat

5. Focus on the backbeat

Punk rock is all about the backbeat – it keeps the energy going and drives the song. The worst thing you can do as a punk drummer is lose the backbeat! If you’re getting tired, you can give your lead hand a break by skipping some notes on the cymbal or using two hands where you’d normally use one.

Your can also play half the amount of notes on your lead hand. Instead of playing 8th notes, have your hands working in unison on the 2 and the 4.

While pretty much anyone can play punk music (it’s accessible, affordable, and pretty straightforward), it’s harder to be a good punk drummer. Master these tips and you’ll be in high demand!

Dave Atkinson is passionate about inspiring positive change through music. With over 24 years of playing and studying music as a multi-instrumentalist, Dave has helped thousands of musicians reach their goals through developing Musora’s core curriculum and engaging content for the modern musician.

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