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Swiss Army Triplet

How To Play A Swiss Army Triplet

The Swiss army triplet is a drum rudiment you can find in snare pieces, solos, fills and creative beats. It was among the last patterns to be added to the list of 40 rudiments.

swiss army triplet drum rudiment notation
The swiss army triplet

What is a Swiss army triplet?

Each triplet starts with a double stroke where the first stroke is flammed. The triplet ends with a single stroke on the opposite hand.

The swiss army triplet sounds like the flam accent but has different sticking.

Here’s what it 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 the Swiss army triplet

You should master the flam and the double stroke roll before you work on the Swiss army triplet. It’ll be much easier to learn once you’ve nailed the components.

The biggest challenge here is consistency. Make sure the flams are tight and that there’s very little space between the grace note and the primary note.

Mind that gap: never play two notes at exactly the same time. That’s something else called a “flat flam” or a “double stop”. 

Here are some tips to help your Swiss army triplets.

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.

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 starting each flam with a soft grace note and that your technique is solid.

Be honest with yourself and don’t increase the tempo 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 slowly work your way up 5 BPM at a time.

Alternate your lead hand

If you’re a right-handed drummer, you probably default to starting everything with your right hand. Since Swiss army triplets don’t alternate the lead hand naturally, you’ll need to practice each separately. 

Starting with both your right and left hand will give you more confidence and control.

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.

You’ll be able to notice if you’re gripping your sticks too hard, or if your stick height doesn’t look right. Use your reflection as a window into how you’re doing. It’s like becoming your own drum teacher!

Film yourself practicing

While playing in front of a mirror will help you fix issues on the fly, you might not realize during your practice when something is wrong. 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.

How to play Swiss army triplets on the drums

Once you’re comfortable playing them on a practice pad or a single drum, try moving them around the drum set. 

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

#1:
#2:
#3:
#4:
#5:

Any surface can be part of the pattern! You could also challenge yourself by breaking up the sticking between your hands and feet.

Songs that use the Swiss army triplet

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

“Pneuma” – Tool

pneuma tool drum notation
“Pneuma” by Tool

While these aren’t perfect Swiss army triplets (they leave out the flams), you can still practice the basic pattern by learning this Danny Carey groove.

What’s next?

With enough solid practice, you should start feeling more confident in your playing. If you can get comfortable with all 40 rudiments, you’ll be able to do virtually anything on the drums. The Swiss army triplet is just one of many useful rudiments that’ll give you more creative ideas and control.

Next up: try the flam accent.

Download a free rudiments poster PDF here


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