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Five Stroke Roll

How To Play A Five Stroke Roll

The five stroke roll is a popular drum rudiment based on the double stroke roll. A simple combination of single and double strokes, you can find it in snare solos, drum fills and more.

five stroke roll drum notation
The five stroke roll

What is a five stroke roll?

The five stroke roll consists of two sets of double strokes followed by an accented single stroke.

While you might’ve noticed that single, double, and triple stroke rolls involve groups of a certain number per hand, the five stroke roll doesn’t continue that pattern.

It doesn’t mean you play five strokes with each hand! Instead, the name implies that there’s a total of five strokes in the pattern.

Here’s what the five stroke roll sounds like:

You can use this tool to practice along at the tempo that’s best for you (it’s the one Drumeo members use when practicing with the 3000+ play-along tracks inside our members area).

Click here if you want to learn how to read drum music

Tips for playing five stroke rolls

The biggest challenge in mastering this rudiment is playing tight double strokes, which means finding even, consistent spacing between each note.

Your goal should be to make your five stroke roll sound smooth and clean. You should be able to lead with your right hand or your left. Make sure to accent the grouping’s fifth note.

Here are some tips to help your five stroke rolls.

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Practice with a metronome

When you’re first learning how to play something, it’s fine to test it out without a metronome as you get used to the pattern. But you shouldn’t go click-free for long. The metronome will help you develop a better internal clock and show you exactly where the timing of your strokes is inconsistent (or where it’s right on the grid).

You can buy a physical metronome at a music store or download a metronome app online.

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Start slow

While it might be tempting to get up to speed as quickly as possible – especially if you’re feeling confident – make sure you’re really playing the five stroke roll cleanly before you increase the tempo.

Be honest with yourself and don’t move on until you’ve really got it down. Don’t just say “it’s good enough”. Develop control first, and speed will come later. 

Try setting your metronome to 60 BPM and then slowly work your way up 5 BPM at a time.

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Alternate your lead hand

If you’re a right-handed drummer, you probably default to starting five stroke rolls with your right hand. Make sure you practice alternating so every other grouping starts with your left hand.

This will help you get a more consistent sound out of both sticks and give you more confidence and control.

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Practice in front of a mirror

It’s easiest to correct your posture or grip immediately if you’re watching yourself in a mirror. Try to set up a practice pad and a snare stand in front of a full length mirror if you can.

Maybe your strokes don’t look even. Maybe the height of your right stick doesn’t match the height of your left. You might even notice you’re gripping your left hand too hard. Use your reflection as a window into how you’re doing. It’s like becoming your own drum teacher!

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Film yourself practicing

While playing in front of a mirror will help you fix issues on the fly, you might not realize when something is wrong during your practice session. Sometimes we don’t notice issues while we’re in the middle of playing – especially if we’re concentrating hard.

Whether you’re propping your phone on your dresser or capturing it all with a camera and tripod, it’s helpful to watch your practice sessions and critique yourself from a ‘third party’ perspective.

We’ve put together a playlist with drumless tracks at different tempos so you can practice this rudiment over real music:

How to play a five stroke roll on the drums

Once you’re comfortable on a practice pad or a single drum, you should move over to the drum set. 

You can play a five stroke roll on one drum or break it up between multiple surfaces. Try the following exercises to get started.


Any surface can be part of the pattern! You could also challenge yourself by breaking up the sticking between your hands and feet. The five stroke roll makes a great transition into a chorus, so try incorporating it into your songwriting.

Songs that use the five stroke roll

Learn these tunes to get comfortable with this rudiment in practice:

“50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” – Paul Simon

paul simon 50 ways to leave your lover
“50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” by Paul Simon

The five stroke roll starts at the end of the first bar and carries over into the start of bar two.

“What’s My Age Again” – Blink-182

blink 182 whats my age again
“What’s My Age Again” by Blink-182

The five stroke roll in this part is played on a cymbal and comes in at the end of the first bar.

“So Far Away” – Avenged Sevenfold

avenged sevenfold so far away
“So Far Away” by Avenged Sevenfold

This five stroke roll acts as a flourish at the top of a single stroke four. This passage is great for practicing articulation!

What’s next?

With enough solid practice, you should start feeling more confident in your playing. The five stroke roll will give you an excuse to practice your double strokes and get you one step closer to playing anything you want on the drums.

Once you learn the five stroke roll, the pattern continues for the seven stroke roll, the nine stroke roll, the eleven stroke roll, the thirteen stroke roll, the fifteen stroke roll, and the seventeen stroke roll

These are the rudiments you should learn next!


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