Free Drum Lesson: The Quads: Four Note Linear Hand and Foot Combinations – Licks, Grooves and Ideas

Drummers can have a lot of fun trying to incorporating the bass drum into their drum fills. One of the most common hand and bass drum combinations are known as the Quads. They can be heard in all styles of music from Jazz to Metal.

A lot of drummers use double bass drums in order to play these patterns at high speeds. There are plenty of Rock and Metal drummers that use this idea during solos and within blisteringly fast fills.

Of course the Quads can be played with just the single bass drum pedal. I recommend that all of these exercises are learnt using the one bass drum to start off with as this will help to develop the strength of your main bass drum foot. Being able to execute these patterns with the one foot will allow you to use the Quad within Hi-Hat based grooves and will give you plenty of scope for use within other linear beats and fills.

The trick with these exercises is to ensure the bass drum and hands sound as one. The notes have to flow into each other otherwise it will sound awkward and stiff. If you play the hand parts on the floor tom then it is easier to hear whether the bass drum and hands are knitting together due to the two drums being of similar pitch.

It takes a long time to develop the bass drum technique required to play these at fast tempos so take your time and enjoy the process learning these exciting and interesting patterns.

The Quad – Basic Patterns

There are four basic combinations of the Quad that include two notes with the hands and two notes with the bass drum. They will all sound familiar if played on their own but their uniqueness really shows when used in combination with each other and as short and medium length drum fills.

Quad Basic Pattern 1

The Quad - Hand and Foot Combination

This is by far the most common version of the Quad. I have written the four basic variations as 1/8th notes but they really can be played through any subdivision.

The only problem with this variation occurs when trying to exit the bar and move back to a drumbeat. The variation ends with two bass drums and if the drum beat being returned too starts with a bass drum then three bass drum notes will need to be played in a row. Not a problem if this is played slowly but can be very difficult at faster tempos.

For this reason it is common for this variation to not be played at the end of the bar. See the ‘Quad Basic Pattern Combination’ exercises later on in this lesson for ideas of how to avoid this problem.

Quad Basic Pattern 2

The Quad - Hand and Foot Combination

The suggested sticking for this is to start with the right hand and then use the left hand for the upbeats. This sticking allows you to exit the Quad with the right hand being free to either move back to the Hi-Hat or to hit a crash cymbal. Using this rule, all downbeats are played with the right hand and all upbeats with the left, gives you freedom to move around the kit without losing the pulse, or indeed, the downbeat.

Quad Basic Pattern 3

The Quad - Hand and Foot Combination

This is a great variation to get you started as the hands end the variation nicely.

Quad Basic Pattern 4

The Quad - Hand and Foot Combination

This is the least common variation and, some would argue, the hardest as well. The bass drum sounds great in this because of its pushing effect in relation to the pulse. It has a similar bass drum pattern to a Samba.

Be careful with the hands as it’s easy to smudge the sound with the bass drums. Ensure that all the notes are evenly played and separate from each other, i.e. the hands don’t overlap with the bass.

The Quads – Using the Subdivisions

These next four exercises use the basic four variations shown previously but now change between 1/8th notes and 1/16th notes. It is important that you are able to hear these patterns through any subdivision so, depending on your bass drum speed, it would be advantageous to try playing them through 1/32nd notes as well.

This means that, no matter what the speed of the song, you will have the ability to choose the subdivision to play the Quads through. Allowing you to choose the subdivision based on your bass drum speed or, more importantly, what works for the music.

It is recommended that you use a metronome to ensure that the subdivisions are executed accurately and smoothly.

It is up to you how many beats you perform with the 1/8th notes and how many with the 1/16th’s, these are just suggestions. You might like to play a whole bar of 1/8th notes and then a whole bar of 1/16th notes. I recommend that you try different lengths for each and turn it into a musical drum solo with the use of rests and multiple subdivisions…makes it more fun as well!

Quad Basic Pattern Through 1/8th and 1/16th Notes 1

The Quad - Hand and Foot Combination

Quad Basic Pattern Through 1/8th and 1/16th Notes 2

The Quag - Hand and Foot Combination

Quad Basic Pattern Through 1/8th and 1/16th Notes 3

The Quag - Hand and Foot Combination

Quad Basic Pattern Through 1/8th and 1/16th Notes 4

The Quag - Hand and Foot Combination

Quad Basic Pattern Combinations

The next four exercises show you how the basic Quad variations can be played in different combinations to create unique and exciting patterns. If the basic patterns are mastered then it is up to you to find your own combinations and to see which ones you like or find to work the best.

I have written these out as whole bars of 1/16th notes but they can be played as two beat fills or played through varying subdivisions. To start off with it is probably best that you think of these patterns as drum fills but when applied to the Hi-Hat and snare drum some of these can be great Linear drum beats as shown later.

The four combination ideas have been written for the snare drum but this limits their potential. They should be applied around the kit to different drums making sure that the correct stickings are still applied. Many great ideas will show themselves when exploring the full drum kit!

Quad Basic Pattern Combinations 1

The Quag - Hand and Foot Combination

This uses Quad Basic Pattern 1 and Quad Basic Pattern 2 and avoids the problem of ending with two bass drums discussed earlier.

Quad Basic Pattern Combinations 2

The Quag - Hand and Foot Combination

This uses Quad Basic Pattern 4 and Quad Basic Pattern 2. This can be a little tricky to execute accurately due to the offbeat nature of the hands and feet but it’s for this reason that it also sounds super funky!

Quad Basic Pattern Combinations 3

The Quag - Hand and Foot Combination

This uses all four Quad Basic Patterns and is a great exercise in its own right, whether used as a drum fill or not. If your timing is not 100% then it really is important to use the metronome as the downbeat can easily be lost. See how fast you can play this.

Quad Basic Pattern Combinations 4

The Quag - Hand and Foot Combination

This uses Quad Basic Pattern 2 and Quad Basic Pattern 1. Be careful when moving from Beat 1 to Beat 2 as the extra snare drum note can throw you off balance. As long as you are feeling a strong downbeat then you won’t get lost.

Linear Grooves

As a way of showingyou just some of the many cool ways the Quad can be incorporated into linear grooves, here are four bars for you to try.

Idea 1 (Partly Linear)

The Quag - Hand and Foot Combination

The 1/32nd Quads half way through the bar add a really exciting break to this standard drum beat. The suggested sticking I have used involves fast right handed doubles on the Hi-Hat. This means the left hand can remain over the snare for ghost or grace notes.

Idea 2

The Quag - Hand and Foot Combination

The accented snare drums on Beats 2 and 4 maintain the steady backbeat. To make this sound really groovy you might want to pay close attention to the bracketed snare notes. These are ghost notes and are meant to be played super quiet.

Idea 3

The Quag - Hand and Foot Combination

This is another way that ghost notes and accents together help to shape the sound of the groove.

Idea 4

The Quag - Hand and Foot Combination

The use of different subdivisions within this groove can add excitement and flair, give it a go!

ADVANCED PLAYER: You have probably already come across these exercises before in your exploration of linear drumming. Try to memorise all four basic variations and run through them randomly on the kit. Eventually, you don’t want to have to actually think about what pattern is being played but rather just hear the flow of notes as they occur; focusing purely on the pulse.

You can also try playing these through the triplet subdivisions for interesting “illusions”. You will have to be careful that you enter and exit these groupings in the correct places otherwise they simply won’t fit though the triplets (four note groupings being played through 3 and 6 note triplets).

Try playing these with double bass drum (if available) for extra speed and power. The double bass drum allows you to play these through 1/32nd notes at most speeds meaning that these faster subdivisions are accessible.

It is important to try and move your hands around the kit to see what patterns emerge, this way these simple variations turn into an entire vocabulary of ideas.

Instead of using both hands to play the Quads try using just one hand at a time for a real work out on your doubles. This will open up all kinds of possibilities for fills and grooves later in your playing.

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