Free Drum Lesson: Beginner Lesson 7 – Basic Shuffle Drum Fills and Licks
This drum lesson gives you a selection of basic drum fills written in triplets for you to use with the Basic Shuffle Drum Beats lesson. These fills are to be learnt off by heart (if possible) so that when played you aren’t having to think about how to play the drum fill.
If you find that you are able to play these ideas already then you can skip straight to the intermediate lesson by clicking here.
This allows you time to be thinking about where to place the drum fill and which drum fill to use rather than how to actually play the drum fill itself.
Some of these drum fills last for a full bar (four Beats long) while some start on Beats 3 and 4 – the other popular places for drummers to start a drum fill.
Once each fill has been mastered, it is up to you to perform them with varying drum beats from the Basic Shuffle Drum Beats lesson. These drum fills are triplet based so you could use them with the drum beats from the 12/8 Basic Drum Beats lesson as well!
A full explanation of how to use the fills with the drum beats is explained at the end of the Basic Drum Fills lesson. By now you should be getting a good idea of how drum beats and drum fills are put together.
All the fills have the hands written beneath them, that’s R for the right hand and L for the left hand. Remember that the suggested sticking (the hands used to perform the fill) are merely that – suggestions. It is up to you to experiment with different hand combinations but be aware that the stickings I have used here are the ones that I (and most drummers) tend to use and are a great starting point to work from.
Some of the drum fills start with the left hand (if right handed) so be careful to look out for those. The reason for this is that some of the fills last for only three notes; they need to start with the left hand to allow the right hand the freedom at the end of the fill to move back to the Hi-Hat for the next bar.
It’s just a suggested hand order but the stickings used here really help when the fill is played at a fast tempo and when there is a risk of the hands getting confused, muddled or crossing over each other. Try playing theses drum fills using opposite hands (to the stickings suggested) and you’ll see what I mean!
Be careful that the bass drum used in some of the drum fills does not disrupt the flow of notes. Play these slowly while, at the same time, listening to the sound of the fill. If it sounds like the bass drum is causing the fill to “stutter” then slow back down again and focus on making the notes flow smooth and evenly.
As well as some of the drum fills using the bass drum I will also be introducing you to the concept of combining the “swung” 1st and 3rd partial of the triplets with all three notes of the triplet. Drum Fills 3 onwards include whole beats of triplets mixed with partial swung triplets. You need to make sure that you are able to count these properly; here is an example of how to count a bar like this.
Swung/Triplet Counting Example
Beats 1 and 3 have the first and third partial of the triplet played on the snare drum while Beats 2 and 4 include all three of the triplet notes.
Labelled underneath the bar is an example of how you might count this fill. So I would count out loud – 1 + 2 Trip Let 3 + 4 Trip Let. Remember that the second partial of Beats 1 and 3 are skipped over but in Beats 2 and 4 they are played (i.e. all three notes of the triplet are played on Beats 2 and 4).
OK, let’s move onto the drum fills.
Drum Fill 1
The drum fill starts on Beat 4, just the first and third partial of the triplet in Beat 4 is played. The suggested sticking underneath is allows your right hand to return to the Hi-Hat after playing the fill.
Drum Fill 1 (Drum Kit Variation)
This really is just one suggested orchestration out of a 100. Try using any drums/toms/cymbals that take your fancy.
Drum Fill 2
This is simply Drum Fill 1 played from Beat 3 of the bar instead.
Drum Fill 2 (Drum Kit Variation)
Drum Fill 3
Beats 3 and 4 contain all three triplet notes so make sure that the pulse of the bar isn’t lost. All four Beats of the bar need to be evenly spaced and feel steady, try not to rush the notes like a lot of starting drummers tend to.
Drum Fill 3 (Drum Kit Variation)
You can see that the last six notes of the bar cascade down the toms from high to low – two notes on each tom.
Drum Fill 4
Written beneath this bar are two suggested stickings, the one at the top is the one that most drummers would use but then have to do a tricky hand swap at the end. The one at the bottom is the sticking that most professional drummers would use as it frees up the hands. Try both out for yourself!
Drum Fill 4 (Drum Kit Variation)
Both stickings can work for this fill.
Drum Fill 5
Notice how the last full triplet of the bar (Beat 4) is started with the left hand. This is a useful tip to remember when ending a fill with three notes in order to free the right hand up.
Drum Fill 5 (Drum Kit Variation)
Drum Fill 6
The whole bar is simply triplets, all twelve notes of them. Play these evenly trying not to play one hand harder than the other.
Drum Fill 6 (Drum Kit Variation)
You might find this is harder to play than it looks because each Tom has three notes played on it. This means that the hands have to alternate as they move to the next drum. Be careful going from the Medium Tom to the Low Tom as the hands have to cross over each other – sounds great though!
Drum Fill 7
You can break up drum fills by inserting bass drums wherever you like. This is just one place you could put them.
Drum Fill 7 (Drum Kit Variation)
Again, the transfer from snare drum to Low Tom on Beats 1 and 2 have the hands crossing over so be careful to try this slowly at first. Beat 4 of the bar is just a bit of fun showing how you could split three notes up over the drum kit.
Drum Beat 8
You might remember this idea from the 12/8 Basic Drum Fills lesson. The bass drums on Beats 3 and 4 start the triplet and the hands play the second and third partial. Great fun!
Drum Fill 8 (Drum Kit Variation)
The Hi-Hat is used in this variation with the bass drum, as a consequence all four Beats of the bar start with a bass drum. Careful on Beat 3, the temptation is to play another Hi-Hat note but you need your hands free in order to play the second and third partial of the triplet.
In order to learn how to use these drum fills properly you need to be able perform them with different drum beats. It’s no good being to play a drum fill on its own if you then can’t play it with a drum beat, or indeed, different drum beats.
I suggest that you take each of the drum beats from the Basic Shuffle Drum Beats lesson found on this site and carefully play each beat with each of the drum fills written here. Remember that you can also use the drum beats from the 12/8 Basic Drum Beats lesson; these beats are written in triplets as well.
To start off with you want to practice playing the whole bar of the chosen drum beat once and then on the repeat of the bar insert the chosen drum fill onto the end. Simply play this two bar groove around and around without stopping until it is comfortable and effortless. You can then speed it up if desired.
Visit the end of the Basic Drum Fills lesson for two examples of how to include a drum beat with a drum fill and make it a two bar exercise.
It is then up to you to decide after how many bars of drum beat to insert a drum fill. I suggest that you insert a drum fill after multiples of 2, i.e. every 4, 8, 16, 32 bars. So you could choose to play a drum beat for 8 bars and then insert a drum fill on the 8th bar. This will get you into good practice when it comes to playing along to music as 90% of music is constructed using rhythms/melodies that repeat every 4, 8, 16, 32 bars.