7 Rock Drum Fills for Beginners


(drum music) – Hey, how’s it going everyone. My name’s Dave, and I want to talk to you in this lesson about drum fills for rock. Now, before we get into rock fills, what is a drum fill anyway? I know a lot of drummers
think it’s a miniature solo. Or it’s a time when the drummer can play a lot of patterns or a lot of chops. Now, where you’re not
technically wrong there, a drum fill is basically
a transition piece. It’s meant to either
transition a verse to a chorus, or a chorus to a bridge,
or you can use a fill to build or release tension. It’s basically a deviation from the beat you’re already playing
to introduce something new to the listener and to move on to something else behind the drums. All you’re trying to do is
break up the consistency of what you’re doing to introduce
a new groove or new feel. Or build some tension
or release some tension. Now you can play drum fills for as long or as short as you want,
however, there are three common durations for
fills that you’ll hear in rock pretty regularly. There’s the full bar
fill, the half bar fill, and the quarter bar fill. Now the goal isn’t to
learn the exact fill, if you want to, that’s great, the goal here is really to internalize the duration of these fills so you know when to start and when to stop. A successful fill starts at the right time and ends at the right
time, which in most cases is on the one of the next bar. And most rock fills crash
at the end of the fill. Now, these aren’t 100% rules
of thumb you have to live by, but they’re pretty common,
and if you play and learn the style, you’re not gonna
get kicked out of any band. Now let’s start with a full bar fill. Now in order to make these as useful as possible when you’re practicing, try to practice them in phrases, either two bar phrases
or four bar phrases. So if you don’t know what that means, I’m basically gonna play one
bar of beat to set it up, and then the next bar
I’m gonna play my fill, whether that’s a full bar,
half bar or quarter bar. Let’s start with the full bar here. Before I even get into any fill, I’m just gonna play a bar of space, so you can hear how effective just playing nothing sounds as a fill. (drumsticks tapping) (drum music) Don’t shy away from space. Space can be sometimes very effective. And by playing nothing for a full bar, it builds a lot of tension. And when you crash back in,
that tension is released, which is very effective. Let’s try a fill where
we build the tension from low volume to high volume. This is a very common fill, and it’s known as the eighth note build, okay. We’re gonna basically play
eighth notes on the floor tom and the snare, at a low dynamic range, and we’re gonna raise that
volume up towards the end. This is called a crescendo,
and we’re gonna play the bass drum on the
quarter notes very slowly, it sounds like this. (drum music) Okay, let me play that for
you in a beat fill context. (drumsticks tapping) (drum music) So give that fill a try. Another one I want to show
you is a very, very common one that a lot of beginners learn right away. And it’s just sixteenth
notes all around the kit. All right, four on the
snare, four on the high tom, four on the mid-tom,
and four on the low tom. It’s kind of boring, but at the same time, it’s very effective, and for beginners, it’s a good one to start with. Here’s how it sounds. (drumsticks tapping) (drum music) One more I want to teach
you is the Bonham triplet. This is another very classic fill, made popular by John
Bonham, you’ll hear it in a lot of Led Zeppelin songs. But it’s great because
it’s a triplet-based fill, it’s for a full bar, and you can use it in straight rock, or swung rock, or even blues, and styles like that. The pattern is simply high
tom, low tom, bass drum. One triplet, two triplet,
three triplet, four triplet. (drum music) And the hard part about this
fill is when you end the fill, you usually want to crash
on the one of the next beat, so you’re gonna have to play
two bass drums in a row. (drums thud) Something like that. Now let me play it for you
in context with a swung feel. (drumsticks tapping) (drum music) All right, let’s move
on to the half bar fill. The half bar fill I find is a little bit more useful and versatile
because you don’t need to use a whole bar just to play a fill. And the smaller fills,
the more subtle fills sometimes are the most impactful. All right. So a half bar fill’s gonna start on the three count of the bar. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. Okay, this is essential. Practice how it feels to start a fill on the middle of the bar
or in the middle of the bar on the three count of the beat. Once you get that down,
there’s so many possibilities. I’m just gonna start
with a very simple one, which is gonna be all
sixteenth notes on the snare. Three E and a four E and a, can’t get any more simple than that. So, one, two, three E and a four E and a. We’re gonna crash out,
and we’re gonna play it in a two bar phrase. Here we go. (drumsticks tapping) (drum music) All right, I want to give you one more fill idea for a half bar fill. We’re basically gonna
play a flam on the snare, a bass drum, a flam on the toms, choose whichever tom you want, and then another bass drum. We’re gonna do it in eighth notes. So, one, two, three and four and. Very effective, check it out. (drumsticks tapping) (drum music) So experiment around with
half bar fill concepts. The last one I want to talk
about is quarter bar fills. Now, these are very quick. They’re only gonna start on the four, and they’re gonna end on
the one of the next bar. So you don’t have a lot of time. They’re very subtle. But what I like about quarter bar fills is you don’t have to always
play quarter bar fill before a chorus or before a bridge. You can play them in
the middle of a verse, just to change things up a bit, or to add a little spice to the beat. What we’re gonna do is a simple sixteenth note roll on the snare. One, two, three, four E and a. Four E and a’s all on the snare. I’m gonna play it in a two bar
phrase for you, here we go. (drumsticks tapping) (drum music) Now you could move that roll on the snare around the toms, you
can play eighth notes, like we did for the half bar
fill, just cut that in half. Let me show you a couple
of different ideas. (drumsticks tapping) (drum music) So there you have a couple drum fill ideas for the style of rock. Now again, you don’t have
to go and look for a ton of different fills, you
don’t have to find books that show, you know,
thousands of fill ideas. All you need to do is take the concept of full bar, half bar
and quarter bar fills, and experiment with different patterns. The key to a good drum
fill is starting on time and ending on time confidently. What makes a drum fill sound bad is when you’re kind of wavering in time, or you’re ending a little bit late or a little bit early. And remember, space is your friend. Sometimes the best notes are
the ones that aren’t played. So don’t be shy of playing nothing, or keeping it very simple. Find a fill that fits the song, and have fun with these concepts. We’ll see you in the next lesson. (rock music)

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