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How To Play Triplets Like Bonham

Brian Tichy  /  UPDATED Nov 21, 2023

If you’re a fan of John Bonham and “good times, bad times” on the drums (well, good times at least), check out this video for how to really nail those Bonzo-style triplets on the kit.

The story behind his trademark triplets is that he heard something like it in a Carmine Appice track and started mimicking it. But when Led Zeppelin played with Vanilla Fudge and Bonham told Appice he got the lick from him, Appice told him that’s not quite what he’d done, and that it might’ve been a little double kick lick instead. Either way, Bonham made it his own, played it on a single pedal, and the rest is history.

In this first lick, you’ll want to keep the 8ths going on the hi-hat and 2 and 4 on the snare, essentially playing Time, and sporadically dropping in the bass drum hits. If you’re struggling with the double strokes, try using your toes on the first hit and using your full leg on the second hit.

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If you need to really solidify the kick, remove the snare and just try to play the triplets between the hi-hat and bass drum for a while.

Another example of the Bonham triplets is between the hands and feet: left hand, right hand, kick. Keep time with your hi-hat foot to really feel the downbeat. You’ll end up with a shuffle between your left and right foot. Bonham led with his left hand, which might be a challenge for righty drummers, but it’s important to do if you want to mimic his exact sticking and orchestration.

Now let’s take these triplets around the kit as crossovers. As for where your hands should go, start with left right on the snare, then left right on the rack and floor toms. Cross over so you’re playing the floor and rack, then cross back and swap hands on the same toms. Tichy calls this the ‘Bonzo Fury‘ lick – and it sounds and looks awesome!

If you liked this video, it’s actually a lesson clip from a whole course called “The Grooves Of Bonham”, which is available for Drumeo members. Check it out!

Brian Tichy is best known for his drumming with Whitesnake, Billy Idol, Foreigner, Sass Jordan, and Ozzy Osbourne. Besides substituting for Jason Bonham with Foreigner, he has organized, produced, and played in the drummer tribute “Bonzo, The Groove Remains The Same”, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the death of Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham.

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