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Six Stroke Roll

How To Play A Six Stroke Roll

The six stroke roll is a fun drum rudiment based on a combination of single and double stroke rolls. You can find it in snare solos, drum fills and more.

six stroke roll drum notation
The six stroke roll

What is a six stroke roll?

The six stroke roll consists of an accented single stroke, two sets of double strokes and a final accented single stroke. This adds up to a total of six notes.

Think of it like a five stroke roll with an extra accented stroke at the beginning. But unlike the five stroke roll, the six stroke roll doesn’t naturally switch the hand that leads.

Here’s what the six 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 six 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 everything sound smooth and clean. You should be able to lead with your right hand or your left. Make sure to accent the first and last note of each grouping.

Here are some tips to help your six 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 six stroke roll cleanly and confidently 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’ll probably be starting these rolls with your right hand. Don’t forget to practice starting them with your left hand as well. Switching lead hands 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 six stroke roll on the drums

Once you’re comfortable playing six stroke rolls on a practice pad or a single drum, try applying them on the drum set.

You can play rolls on one drum or break them up between multiple surfaces. Here are some exercises to get you started.


Once you’ve worked through these exercises, come up with your own ideas. Any surface can be part of the pattern!

Songs that use the six stroke roll

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

“Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” – The Temptations

aint too proud to beg the temptations drum notation
“Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” by The Temptations

The six stroke roll becomes a fill in the second bar. Make sure the space between each note is consistent. Your double strokes should sound just like your single strokes.

What’s next?

With enough solid practice, you should start feeling more confident in your playing. The six 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 six stroke roll, try the ten stroke roll, a similar rudiment. Give it a shot!

five stroke roll

Download a free rudiments poster PDF here

Free Drum Rudiments PDF Poster Drumeo scaled

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