What are Chops in Drumming?

If you are a drummer who wants to improve your skills and impress your audience, you might have heard of the term “drumming chops”. But what exactly are chops in drumming, and how can you develop them? In this blog post, we will answer these questions and give you some tips and resources to help you improve your drumming chops.

What are Chops in Drumming?

Drum chops are musical phrases played around the kit. They can be flashy bursts of notes (often linear patterns) or simple melodic phrases. They can be slow or fast. Drum chops describe a drummer’s technical ability to play the drums. A player that has great chops has a lot of freedom over how they express themselves. They can play very fast, very precisely and with great variety. To achieve this, they have developed a mastery of drum technique and vocabulary.

Drum chops are not just limited to drum solos or parts of the music where the drums are the main focus. They can also be used to create interesting drum fills, grooves and accents that support the other musicians and enhance the overall sound. Drum chops are not just about playing difficult or complicated patterns, but playing them with musicality, taste and style.

How to Improve Drumming Chops

There are many ways to improve your drumming chops, but here are some general guidelines that can help you:

  • Practice regularly and consistently: Improve muscle memory, coordination, speed, and control by practicing at least 30 minutes daily. Vary your routine to avoid boredom and plateaus.

  • Use a metronome: Enhance timing, accuracy, consistency, and endurance with a metronome. Start slow and gradually increase tempo as you get comfortable.

  • Learn from the masters: Get inspired by drummers like Chris Dave, Jojo Mayer, Vinnie Colaiuta, Dave Weckl, Tony Royster Jr. Watch their videos, listen to recordings, and emulate their techniques.

  • Expand your vocabulary: Learn different patterns, rudiments, styles, and genres from books, tutorials, courses, or lessons.

  • Drumeo: Access online drum lessons from world-class instructors. Topics include technique, groove, fills, independence, and rudiments. Find videos, podcasts, articles, and exercises on their website or YouTube channel.

  • Stick Control: Essential book by George Lawrence Stone. Improve hand technique, speed, control, and coordination with its exercises.

  • Linear Drumming: Mike Johnston’s book teaches you how to play unique patterns on the drums, creating interesting sounds and textures.

  • Gospel Chops: Explore fast, intricate, and dynamic chops in gospel drumming. Watch videos, read articles, or purchase DVDs and digital downloads for more tips and tricks

Effective Practice Routines for Drumming Chops

To make the most out of your practice time, you need to have a clear goal and a structured routine that will help you achieve it. Here are some examples of effective practice routines for drumming chops:

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  • Warm up. Before you start practicing your chops, you need to warm up your muscles and joints to prevent injuries and improve your performance. You can do some stretches, exercises or simple patterns on a practice pad or on the kit for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Work on one pattern at a time. Choose one pattern that you want to improve on and focus on it for 15 to 20 minutes. Start with a slow tempo and play it with good technique and timing. Gradually increase the tempo as you get more comfortable with the pattern. Try to play it on different surfaces, such as the snare, toms, cymbals or bass drum. You can also try to play it with different dynamics, accents or subdivisions.
  • Combine patterns. Once you have mastered one pattern, you can try to combine it with another pattern to create a longer or more complex phrase. For example, you can combine a single stroke roll with a paradiddle, or a six-stroke roll with a flam. You can also try to play different patterns with different limbs, such as playing a paradiddle with your hands and a double stroke roll with your feet.
  • Apply patterns to music. The ultimate goal of practicing your chops is to use them in a musical context, such as a song, a groove or a fill. You can practice playing along with your favorite songs or backing tracks and try to incorporate your chops into them. You can also improvise your own solos or fills using your chops. Try to play with musicality, taste and style, and avoid overplaying or overshadowing the other instruments.

Understanding the Concept of Chops in Drumming

Chops in drumming are not just about playing fast or complicated patterns, but playing them with musicality, taste and style. They are a way of expressing yourself on the drums and enhancing the overall sound of the music. To develop your chops, you need to practice regularly and consistently, use a metronome, learn from the masters, expand your vocabulary and apply your patterns to music.

Importance of Developing and Improving Chops

Developing and improving your chops will help you improve your skills and increase your range of expression on the drums. You will be able to play more confidently, creatively and dynamically. You will also be able to impress your audience and stand out from other drummers. Having good chops will also open up more opportunities for you as a drummer, such as playing in different styles and genres, collaborating with other musicians or getting gigs.

Equipment and Tools for Chops Development

To develop your chops, you need to have the right equipment and tools that will help you practice effectively and efficiently. Here are some of the equipment and tools that you will need:

  • A drum kit. A drum kit is the main instrument that you will use to practice and perform your chops. You can choose from different types of drum kits, such as acoustic or electronic, depending on your preference, budget and space. You can also customize your drum kit by choosing different sizes, shapes, materials and colors of drums and cymbals.
  • A practice pad. A practice pad is a device that simulates the feel and sound of a drum head. It is used to practice drum technique, rudiments and patterns without making too much noise or damaging the drum heads. You can use a practice pad on its own or attach it to a stand or a snare drum.
  • A metronome. A metronome is a device that produces a steady beat that helps you keep time and improve your timing. It can be an electronic device, an app on your phone or a website on your computer. You can adjust the tempo, volume and sound of the metronome according to your needs.
  • A pair of headphones. A pair of headphones is used to listen to the metronome, backing tracks or songs that you want to play along with. They can also block out external noise and help you focus on your playing. You can choose from different types of headphones, such as wired or wireless, over-ear or in-ear, noise-canceling or not.
  • A recording device. A recording device is used to record your playing and listen back to it later. This will help you evaluate your progress, identify your strengths and weaknesses, and make adjustments accordingly. You can use a smartphone, a camera, a microphone or an audio interface to record your playing.

Drumstick Selection and its Impact on Chops

One of the most important tools for developing your chops is the drumstick. The drumstick is what connects you to the drums and cymbals, and affects how they sound and feel. Choosing the right drumstick for you can make a big difference in your playing and comfort.

There are many factors that affect the drumstick selection, such as:

  • Size: The length, diameter, and weight of the drumstick impact its control, speed, volume, and rebound.
  • Tip: The shape, material, and color of the tip influence the stick’s contact with drums and cymbals, sound clarity, and articulation.
  • Material: Drumsticks come in various materials like hickory, maple, oak, and synthetic options (metal alloys, carbon fiber, plastic, nylon) each with different characteristics.:
  • Hickory. Hickory is the most popular material for drumsticks. It is a well-balanced wood that has excellent shock absorption, durability and consistency. It is suitable for most styles and genres of music.
  • Maple. Maple is a lighter and softer wood than hickory. It has a warmer and quieter sound, and a faster rebound. It is ideal for jazz, light rock and low-volume playing.
  • Oak. Oak is a heavier and harder wood than hickory. It has a brighter and louder sound, and a longer lifespan. It is ideal for heavy rock, metal and high-volume playing.
  • Synthetic. Synthetic materials include metal alloys, carbon fiber, plastic and nylon. They have different characteristics depending on their composition, such as weight, sound, feel and durability. They are usually more expensive than wood sticks, but they can offer some advantages such as resistance to breakage, moisture and temperature changes.
  • Finish: The coating or treatment on the stick’s surface affects its appearance, grip, and durability.
  • Natural: No coating, provides an organic feel and better sweat absorption.
  • Lacquer: Thin varnish layer for a glossy, smooth appearance and increased protection.
  • Nylon: Nylon tip produces brighter, more consistent cymbal sounds and has enhanced durability.
  • Specialty: Unique finishes like paint, glitter, rubber, wax, tape, and anti-vibration for customized feel and grip.

Practice Pads and Drumming Accessories for Focused Chop Development

Besides drumsticks, there are other equipment and tools that can help you practice your chops more effectively and efficiently. Here are some of them:

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  • Practice pads. Practice pads are drum head-like devices for technique, rudiments and patterns. They are quiet and durable. You can use them alone or on a stand or snare.
  • Single-surface pads. Single-surface pads have one playing surface that can vary in texture, hardness and rebound. They are simple, affordable and versatile pads that can suit most needs.
  • Multi-surface pads. Multi-surface pads have two or more playing surfaces that have different textures, hardnesses and rebounds. They are more complex, expensive and specialized pads that can offer more variety and challenge.
  • Mesh-head pads. Mesh-head pads have a mesh fabric stretched over a frame that resembles a drum head. They have a realistic feel and sound, and can be tuned to different tensions. They are ideal for electronic drummers who want to practice on an acoustic-like pad.
  • Silent pads. Silent pads have a rubber or foam surface that reduces the sound level significantly. They have a soft feel and low rebound, and can be used in situations where noise is an issue.
  • Drumming accessories. Drumming accessories are items that can enhance your practice experience or performance on the drums. They can include things like:
  • Metronome: Helps improve timing with a steady beat.
  • Headphones: Listen to metronome, backing tracks, or songs while blocking external noise.
  • Recording device: Record and evaluate your progress.
  • Drum key: Essential for tuning drums and adjusting sound.
  • Drum tuner: Measures drum head pitch for precise tuning.
  • Moongel: Sticky gel pad to control drum and cymbal sound and sustain.

Recommended Resources, Books and Online Tutorials

To improve your drumming chops, you need to learn from the best sources and resources available. Here are some of the recommended resources, books and online tutorials that can help you:

  • Drumeo. Drumeo is a website that offers online drum lessons from world-class instructors, covering topics such as technique, groove, fills, independence, rudiments and more. You can also access hundreds of videos, podcasts, articles and exercises on their website or YouTube channel.
  • Stick Control. Stick Control is a book by George Lawrence Stone that is considered one of the most essential books for drummers of all levels. It contains exercises that will help you improve your hand technique, speed, control and coordination.
  • Linear Drumming. Linear Drumming is a book by Mike Johnston that teaches you how to play linear patterns on the drums. Linear patterns are patterns where no two limbs play at the same time. They can create interesting sounds and textures on the kit.
  • Gospel Chops. Gospel Chops is a website that showcases the style of gospel drumming, which is known for its fast, intricate and dynamic chops


Chops are a term that describes a drummer’s technical ability and musical vocabulary on the drum kit. They can be used to play fast, precise, and varied patterns around the drums, or to create simple and melodic phrases. Chops are developed by mastering drum techniques, such as rudiments, linear patterns, one-handed rolls, and bass drum speed.

Chops can also be used to enhance the musicality of drum solos, fills, and grooves, as long as they don’t overshadow the other instruments or the song. Some examples of drummers with amazing chops are Chris Dave, Jojo Mayer, and Vinnie Colaiuta