Bonham Triplets and Beyond

Whether you’re into Led Zeppelin and John Bonham’s playing or not, you’ll probably heard of Bonham triplets. Let’s face it, Bonham is synonymous with Rock drumming; he was a sonic and creative powerhouse. Some of his most legendary licks and grooves are triplet-based. So, in this drum lesson, we’ll explore phrasing ideas so you can master triplets like Bonham himself!

What makes a Bonham triplets?

Simply put, Bonham triplets refers to the way that he chose orchestrate that simple three note rhythm. Be it the “Crossover” fills or the great shuffle groove on Fool In The Rain, they just ooze with personality!

Crossover fill

Classic Bonham triplet fill right here!

Bonham triplet Crossover fill

Fool In The Rain

Beautiful groove… One of Jeff Porcaro’s influences in coming up with his Rosanna shuffle.

Bonham triplet Fool In The Rain


By the way, if you’re interested in other stylistic articles, check out my exploration of David Garibaldi’s Soul Vaccination grooves: Snare Accents vs Ghost Note Workshop and Beyond Soul Vaccination Grooves. Anyhow, back to the article:

Developing triplet-based ideas?

The purpose of this three part lesson is to help you develop learn some triplet-based ideas. As such, the view is to develop your own ideas and vocabulary! And he best part about it is that you’ll work on some core skills whilst you’re at it… These skills include:

Time and motion

You should aim to explore the accuracy of your strokes. Remember that both the physical and timing space between each note is as important as the note itself. Consequently, ensure that your playing is clear and clean, and your movements  motions are smooth.

drum book

Drum books such as Concepts can help you create new grooves based on really simple ideas… Check it out!

Check out my book Concepts for lots of ideas you can use to come up with new grooves based on stuff you already know!

Fluidity and creativity

By exploring different ways of applying these triplets, you’ll be able to incorporate them into your fills and grooves. Remember that each example in these articles is just that, an example. Exercise your creative muscle further by coming up with your own versions. The same applies with the orchestration of each example; orchestrate as you like!

Bonham triplets

John Bonham of the rock band ‘Led Zeppelin’ performs onstage at the Forum on June 3, 1973 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Practice tips

One thing is for sure, and that’s the fact that John Bonham was born playing his Bonham triplets. He practiced and explored ideas in order to develop his ideas. So, with that in mind, when you practice the exercises, I recommend you do the following:

Use a metronome and go slow

Practice each example slowly first and increase tempo only once comfortable. Try increments of 5BPM at a time.

Simple orchestrations first

Start orchestrating each example on snare drum until you’re comfortable with the pattern. Then orchestrate the pattern starting nice and simple.

Beyond grooves and fills

Don’t think of just fills and grooves, but rather explore each example melodically. Listen out for any melody that comes to mind as you play each exercise. You can turn each idea into a 4-bar phrase, or practice it by playing 4 bars of a groove, and 4 bars of the ideas.

Make it your own

Right, so maybe you want to learn specific Bonham triplets… Put it this way, by learning and exploring this stuff, it will  make it easier for you to learn his stuff. And, by exploring more general exercises, you’ll come up with your own style! Here’s an example of some ideas I came up with using concepts from this lesson:



You can download the PDFs to the grooves on this video here.



Download the PDFs and explore them in detail as suggested above.


Part I: Bass drums and dynamics

Explores using bass drums and dynamics to create more interesting phrasing ideas based on simple variations of the Bonham triplet.



Part II: Using rests

Builds on Part I by introducing the idea of rests within the pattern in order to create more variations.



Part III: Changing subdivisions

Here we take the triplet ideas we’ve been developing and change the subdivisions to create 16th note phrasing variations.



I hope you’ve enjoyed this drum lesson. If you’re interested, learn drums with me! Also, make sure to check out my book Concepts, which is full of cool ideas to take your playing to the next level.

Drum Lesson: Learn to Master Triplets Like Bonham
Article Name
Drum Lesson: Learn to Master Triplets Like Bonham
John Bonham was a master at playing triplets. In this lesson we explore some phrasing ideas so you can learn to master triplets like Bonham!
Publisher Name
Nick Schlesinger
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About Nick Schlesinger

I’m lucky to tour the UK and Europe with great artists and work on sessions in world-renowned studios such as Abbey Road Studios on some really cool projects. You can also find me playing covers gigs in and around London.

Education is a big part of my work, and I’m really passionate about helping drummers achieve their goals. Published by magazines like Modern Drummer (US) and Drummer (UK), I constantly add new educational content on my blog, and I frequently like to embark on various entrepreneurial projects.

Check out my drumming book: Concepts


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