The Beat Beginner
Songs Beats & Fills Technique Rudiments Drummers Gear

5+ Intermediate Drum Fills

JJ Jones  /  UPDATED Aug 22, 2022

As an experienced drummer, you might be tired of basic, predictable fills and are hoping to move on to something a bit more interesting.

Here are some ideas and techniques you can use to create more complex drum fills.

Odd Groupings

Consisting of three, five or seven 16th notes, accents and/or various orchestrations can form the groupings. Check out example #2 in this video:

A grouping of three 16ths forms the basis of possibly the most famous drum fill of all time: Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight”. Naturally, it’s the first example here:

If you’re new to odd groupings, this video will give you a quick but solid introduction:

Linear Fills

Screen Shot 2020 07 13 at 3.15.22 PM

Linear” in drumming means no two limbs fall together. Linear fills can be incredibly cool and textured sounding. The fill above comes from this Carmine Appice lesson on linear playing:

Typically they’re played with a 16th note subdivision, but if you’re a beginner who decided to take a peek at this section for fun, you can play linear fills too. Here’s an 8th note version:

Screen Shot 2020 07 13 at 1.31.27 PM

Six Stroke Roll

The six stroke roll sounds great when you apply it around the kit. Steve Gadd uses it all the time, and you can too.

Screen Shot 2020 07 22 at 2.26.03 PM

Watch this video to get some ideas for how you can use the six stroke roll as a fill:

Neil Peart Solo Fill

If you’re looking for a specific fill created by one of the legends, try this one by Neil Peart (“Natural Science” from Permanent Waves):

Screen Shot 2020 07 22 at 2.18.11 PM

If these patterns are too easy for you, then you should check out these advanced drum fills.

JJ Jones is an internationally-touring drummer, educator and writer currently based in Boulder, CO. She's played with folk-pop darlings Girlyman, comedian Margaret Cho, Egyptian revolutionary Ramy Essam, and alt-pop sensation Heather Mae, among many others. JJ is the Tech and Gear Editor of Tom Tom Magazine, and the founder of, a drumming education company for women.

Improve your speed on the drums with El Estepario Siberiano’s FREE course.
Enter your email to get all 10 exercises sent to your inbox.

By signing up you’ll also receive our ongoing free lessons and special offers. Don’t worry, we value your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.