Your all-in-one reference guide for learning and playing any style of music on the drums.
Learn how each musical genre evolved and influenced the next with historical breakdowns for every style and sub-style.
Expertly curated listening recommendations featuring the most renowned drum performance from every genre.
Visualize the patterns with precise notation and breakdowns of the most influential drum grooves of the past century.
Choose the right gear with images of the most practical drum set configurations used in every style of music.
YouTube & Spotify playlists, drumless play-along tracks, and online resources to help you get the most out of The Drummer’s Toolbox.
PRESIDENT & CO-FOUDNER OF DRUMEO
Because Buddy Rich said so—that’s why.
Why you’re reading this book, that is.
Let me back up a bit and explain . . .
When I first started playing drums in 1996, long before the internet was mainstream, I fuelled my obsession to learn and grow as a drummer by watching VHS tapes, DVDs, and listening to audio recordings about drumming. One of the tapes I came across in my endless quest for more was an interview with Buddy Rich. I truly admired this legendary virtuoso on the kit, so I hung on to every word he said.
In this recording, Buddy was talking about what it means to be a drummer. Although I never wrote down his ideas word for word, I remember how he insisted there’s no such a thing as a “rock drummer” or “jazz drummer”. He said we should all just be drummers: when you show up at the gig, be prepared to play any style and just be a “drummer”.
Like all wide-eyed kids listening to their heroes, I took his advice to heart. It really stuck with me—to the point that as I studied with almost a dozen private teachers during the next two years that I played drums, I relentlessly pestered each of them to show me different styles. That’s how I learned about jazz, funk, Latin, rock, and many others.
I never became a master at any of them, and I’m still not a master of any style to this day. But I got much more versatile as a drummer, and I definitely improved at playing rock, funk, and fusion—the genres I’ve always been best at. There’s no doubt about it: developing a basic working understanding of all the other genres has helped me become a better drummer. I’ll always be grateful to Buddy Rich for how his advice started me on a journey that’s been fun, rewarding, and most of all, effective.
I’m 37 years old as I write this. I’ve been playing drums for 20 years and teaching for 15. I have been part of so many incredible things in the drumming community and am always grateful for the job I get to do. One of the best parts of my job is the opportunity to help aspiring drummers develop their potential. I’m often asked for advice on the best ways to do this.
I always start by explaining that it’s really hard for drummers to differentiate their art in the current music business landscape. That’s why my number one recommendation to drummers who want to play professionally is to specialize. Every drummer is unique. Each of you has your own sound, feel, and style that gives you personality on the instrument—and that’s what will get you noticed. So focus on making your strengths stronger, I always tell drummers. The stronger you make your strengths, the more of yourself you will become on the drums.
Now, that may sound like it runs counter to Buddy’s advice. But I’m not saying you shouldn’t study other styles. You should! While there’s no way you can become a virtuoso in every style (unless you’re Vinnie, of course), you can become an amazing [insert the style you’re best at here] drummer. Believe it or not, the best pathway to get you there is developing a basic understanding of all the styles, and that’s where The Drummer’s Toolbox comes in.
Because I’m certain that versatility is such a core component of becoming a more successful drummer, I long ago dreamed up the idea to publish a pocket-sized book on diverse drumming styles so that a drummer could easily pull out this toolbox and get the right tool for the jobs that present themselves at the gig or in the practice room. And after the success of The Best Beginner Drum Book, which I co-wrote with our Drumeo wunderkind, Brandon Toews, I knew he was the best man for this job.
What Brandon has created here is a bit more than “pocket-sized” (although if you’re using the e-book version it just might be!), but it’s everything I dreamed of—and more. I started teaching Brandon drums in 2013, and he is absolutely the best student I have ever taught. He is what I call “confidently coachable”, which means he believes he can do anything, but he also understands how important it is to take advice from others.
That’s exactly the attitude a drummer needs to learn a variety of styles and become more versatile, so you can be confident you’re learning from the best here. This attitude is also the mindset you’ll want to take on as you navigate this mammoth tome. That, and a few energy drinks, maybe. Brandon left practically no stone unturned here in his obsession to help you learn and grow as a drummer.
The Drummer’s Toolbox isn’t meant to be a book you “finish”. It’s kind of the opposite: it will only further reinforce that when it comes to drumming, the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. That’s not a bad thing—although it can feel frustrating at times. Just remember, you’re on an epic journey, and you get to learn this amazing instrument! Before long, you’ll be having too much fun to be frustrated: you’ll just be grateful you can enjoy the process.
But don’t thank me. Thank Buddy, and thank Brandon.
To your drumming success,
Pop Rock 4
Bo Diddley 7
Surf Rock 11
Latin Rock 14
Hard Rock 18
Progressive Rock 22
Rock Ballad 25
Punk Rock 29
Pop Punk 37
4/4 Swing 44
Up-Tempo Swing 48
Big Band 52
3/4 Waltz 56
Jazz Shuffle 66
Odd Time Swing 70
Jazz Fusion 74
ECM Feel 78
Contemporary Jazz 82
Blues Shuffle 90
Straight 12/8 Blues 94
Swung 12/8 Blues 98
Memphis Blues 101
Texas Blues 105
Jump Blues 109
Chicago Blues 113
Flat Tire Shuffle 117
Blues Rock 121
Half-Time Shuffle 125
Train Beat 132
Western Swing 136
Country Waltz 142
Country Pop 152
Country 6/8 156
Country Shuffle 159
Country Rock 163
Second Line 186
New Orleans Funk 193
Latin Funk 197
Doom Metal 213
Speed Metal 216
Thrash Metal 220
Death Metal 223
Power Metal 227
Progressive Metal 231
Groove Metal 235
Nu Metal 239
Folk Metal 247
Drum And Bass 282
Partido Alto 359
Bossa Nova 366
Samba Reggae 370
“A thoughtful and well-organized document of modern drumming with lineage going back decades.”
“There are hundreds of outdated books on specific drumming genres and styles, but there’s only one that’s totally modern and covers one hundred.”
“The Drummer’s Toolbox has given us an endless amount of options to build creative ideas in so many drumming styles. Brandon has given all of us new ways of learning and different ways to think about how we can approach the drum-set. For that, I thank him very much.”
“I am floored. The Drummer’s Toolbox is one of the most unique and comprehensive texts out there on drumming styles. It’s not simply a book of basic styles. Brandon has instead gone ‘to the streets’ if you will and really dug deep to get to the heart of each of these grooves and styles. The depth is reflected in the work. Highly recommend.”
PRESIDENT & CO-FOUNDER OF DRUMEO
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