Bonham Triplets and Beyond

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.

Is Mindfulness The Best Gift For Drummers?

Is Mindfulness The Best Gift For Drummers?

Over the last few months I’ve been using a guided meditation app called Headspace. It’s a great app which teaches you how to meditate and guides you through the process. I’ve found it really beneficial in helping me be more in the moment, more mindful, and less stressed… So, could this be the best gift for drummers?

So why on earth am I talking about this rather than drum stuff? Because we, drummers, are human too and as such we have to take good care of ourselves. As a result, I thought I’d start using mediation as a technique to help me develop as a person, and as a drummer too.

Since starting on this journey I’ve felt much more relaxed, and more aware of the world around me. And whilst sometimes I drop the ball, I try to incorporate meditation into my daily routine in a few different ways. So! Here are 3 ways to use meditation to benefit your drumming.


I aim to meditate every morning for about 10 to 15 minutes before having my morning tea / coffee. Doing this sets me up for the day, framing the day ahead in a more positive way, and reminding me to “take it easy”.


Meditation has also taught me to relax and focus the mind, but also to be more aware of my body. In context to drumset practice, mentally-speaking, it has helped me keep mind clear and free from distraction. Likewise, from a physical perspective, I use the visualisation techniques to help me target specific technical aspects to improve my performance. This has been hugely beneficial!

best gift for drummers


Meditating for a few minutes before a gig has also been a game-changer for me, actually. Particularly if I’m feeling stressed, or nervous, which is a common thing among musicians, so if you’re reading this and feel the same, you’re not the only one! I’ve found that a 5 or 10 minute sit-down, in a quiet place, before going on stage is a fantastic way to be less in my own head, and enjoy the experience more.

In my drum lessons I encourage and remind my students to breathe and be mindful, teaching them to be physically and mentally relaxed behind the kit. In fact, if you liked this article, check out my article about using yoga to improve your drumming!

I hope you’ve found this little post about mindfulness being the best gift for drummers entertaining, interesting or useful. As I said, meditation has helped me be more aware, less stressed, and keeping things more “light”, so maybe try it out yourself!

If you’re interested, you can check out the Headspace app. You can also visit various Buddhist centres around London who offer mediation sessions:

London Buddhist Centre

West London Buddhist Centre

North London Buddhist Centre

Thanks for reading!

Nick x

Pros and Cons of Modern versus Vintage Drums

Pros and Cons of Modern versus Vintage Drums

So, here my  thoughts and opinions on the topic of  modern and vintage drums. There’s something inexplicably cool and desirable about vintage gear. It looks cool, it sounds great, and it always impresses people; producers love the old school stuff. Some argue that old gear may even be better made than their modern counterparts. Yet vintage can come at a price; but is it justified? Modern drums, by contrast, benefits from tried-and-tested manufacturing know-how, technological innovation, sound awesome too. Moreover, modern drums offer more in terms of variety, and has made available better quality drums available at more affordable prices.

Even though I own some vintage drums (see my gear list) myself, I wanted to explore, learn, and then compare the differences between modern and vintage drums.


Initial thoughts

What does vintage mean? The term generally refers to something of quality from the past that is back in fashion or is popular. For instance, certain drums from the 50s, 60s and 70s fall in this category. However, drums from the 80s and 90’s might not be qualify (irrespective of age and quality) as they’re not popular.

With this in mind, what is this popularity dictated by; the players that played them? Ludwig was popularised by Ringo and Bonham in the 60s and 70s respectively. Conversely, what makes stuff from the 80s less popular? With players such as Weckl or Porcaro, surely the drums they used must qualify, no? Apply the same logic to the 90s and popular players from this decade, and project into the future… Will Benny Greb’s or Jojo Mayer’s gear be considered vintage in the future?

John Bonham and his classic Ludwig Vistalite

Lots of questions, I know, and yet in my mind, recording technology (and trends in production) in each decade one has been a big implication in what we hear from vintage drums.

For the sake of this article, let’s stick to a vintage period that’s usually priced higher in for sale drum forums: 50s to the 70s.


Vintage Drums

As mentioned above, vintage drums definitely have a particular vibe, and not only do they sound good, look stunning and have their individual charm. Yet, it’s important to research and know the right (or best) decade for the brand you’ve got your eyes on in terms of sound, build quality, hardware, etc. And whilst this means you might pay a premium price, the drums are likely to maintain, or increase in value. Back in the day, things were built to last!

Conversely, depending on how well these drums have been looked after, they may be fragile and require lots of upkeep. As a result you may want to keep them for studio use only. Similarly, original spare parts may be difficult to get, which also means that not having all original parts brings the drums’ value down.

It’s worth noting that early manufacturing processes in the defined period may not have been as consistent, i.e. drum shells may not be fully round, nor the bearing edges be completely flat. On a similar note, and not wanting to go into too much detail, is wood quality. Mature woods are denser, which will affect the sound and character; so were woods used back then allowed to mature?

Last but not least is the issue of “pre-international” drum sizes. Prior to standardised drum sizes, some manufacturers, such as Premier, John Grey and some Gretsch kits, made their drums with slightly oversized diameters until the late 60s. This difference in size means that you need to purchase pre-international heads, which companies like Remo still make. You can find more information on the Not So Modern Drummer website.

Vintage: Pros
  • Look beautiful
  • Sounds great
  • Producers and engineers love ‘em
  • Increases in value over time
Vintage: Cons
  • Lots of upkeep
  • Fragile; sometimes maybe kept in terrible conditions
  • Difficult to get parts
  • If not all original parts, devalues lots
  • Only certain periods / decades are more valuable than others

By the way, if you’re enjoying this article so far, feel free to share it. Also, if you’re after drum lessons, check out my tuition page and get in touch! 


Modern Drums

When considering a modern set of drums, innovations in both manufacturing and the instrument’s development have benefited the needs of players of all levels and budgets. The general consensus these days is that entry-level kits from the top brands are built just as well as, or much better than, their vintage pro-level counterparts.

Some of these innovations have meant consistent modern shell construction, e.g. roundness and well-cut bearing edges (of which there are more options to suit more styles). Similarly, sound palettes have expanded thanks to experimentation with more woods, such as bubinga, oak, mahogany and new ‘sandwich’ combinations, such as the revolutionary Tama Starclassic Performer Birch / Bubinga. Furthermore, tiny details such as new resonance-giving tom mounts, or tension rods with higher thread count, like Drum Workshop’s True Pitch, give players more control over their sound.

Tama Starclassic Performer

Yet, unless your budget is very high, modern drums, could be argued, lack individual character. With some of the large drum companies now being owned by conglomerates, manufacturing is outsourced to the East in an effort to reduce costs where shells are manufactured for several brands under the same roof. And whilst this isn’t necessarily a negative, labour force know-how and craftsmanship, could be argued, are traded in for cost-savings.

Modern: Pros
  • Better built
  • Consistent
  • More choice and options
  • Better hardware
Modern: Cons
  • Lack of individual character
  • Homogenous manufacturing
  • Cost-saving over craftsmanship


Modern Vintage

If you don’t want to compromise on modern manufacturing but still want that vintage vibe, look and sound, some manufacturers offer a solution to that. Companies like Gretsch’s Broadkaster is a re-issues of their classic formula, whilst others aim to recreate classic sounds of yore like Canopus’ Neo Vintage line all of which benefit from old school specs, but with modern know-how and technology.


Final thoughts

Whether you’re in the market for a drum set, be it vintage or modern, at the end of the day, it’s the way it sounds to you that really matters. Just because a vintage set of drums is “a must”,  unless you’re buying a collector’s piece, if you don’t like how it sounds, what’s the point? Same applies to a modern set! And if you’re after something that’s a bit more niche or custom, then smaller and independent companies like Q Drum Co. (USA), British Drum Co. (UK) might offer what you’re looking for.

Q Drum Co. Copper Drums

For vintage drums in the UK, contact David Jeans at Orange Tag Drums. And for all your modern drums needs in London, visit Drumshack!

Nick x

My Drumming Roots

My Drumming Roots

In this article, we explore how to find your drumming roots.

I decided to get introspective and go about finding my drumming roots are to trace my lineage; my drumming family tree, if you will. Now, of course, I know who my favourite drummers are! But I wanted to look deeply into my earliest influences would shed a light into how these had an impact on my perception of rhythm, phrasing and groove.

In order to do this, I had chat with the person responsible for introducing me to music that influenced and inspired me at the earliest stages of my life; my mum. And, before we get going, it’s worth mentioning that I was born in 1983, which will help contextualise everything below.


During this period mum introduced me to some great artists and bands of a variety of different genres. Among these were Queen, The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Phil Collins, John Denver, Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, Barbara Streisand, and KC & The Sunshine Band.

Hal Blaine (Elvis Presley)

It wasn’t actually until researching this article that I realised the impact that he’s in my life and where he fit in my drumming roots. Hal, who was part of the famous Wrecking Crew collective of session musicians in the 60s, played on most of the records that mum exposed me to. In retrospect, the take-away lesson from Hal was that, no matter who he was playing with, he played what the song and artist required of him.

Ringo Starr (The Beatles)

The Beatles were my first favourite band; they probably still are – everything about them was catchy, and sounded great. Reflecting back on it, Ringo taught me that the drums could not only drive a song, but could also be catchy and a hook. In this context, a grooves don’t always have to have a solid back beat on 2 and 4. He taught me to appreciate the drums as a musically expressive instrument more than just a time keeper.

Roger Taylor (Queen)

At the time, my knowledge of Queen extended only to the Greatest Hits records that were out at the time. Roger Taylor’s massive drum tones, feel, and songwriter approach to his parts were integral to the songs. In addition to this, how he chose to accent the back beat with slightly opened hi hats, like on Somebody To Love made a big impact on me.

Ralph Jones (Bill Haley & His Comets)

Listening to Bill Hayley’s music, there was an innocence to it particular to the 50’s with a rebellious streak that packed a punch. At the time rock ’n’ roll grooves were still being played swung over straight eighth guitar riffs, such as Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On and Jailhouse Rock. And yet, what captivated me about Jones was his snare sound on those records, and his feel, and those killer snare rolls. His playing also taught me about using the bass drums as a means to accent notes rather than just provide a steady pulse.


With my drumming roots firmly planted, by the mid 1990s I was bit more aware of the world, myself as a person and already playing guitar for a couple of years. I was on my own journey of musical discovery. Important bands that I started discovering, in no particular order, were Dire Straits, Faith No More, Criminal, Megadeth, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Metallica and Cannibal Corpse, but the earliest ones from this period were as follows.

Dave Grohl (Nirvana)

My first instrument was actually the guitar, so the focus of my musical foundations was more global than instrument-specific. I viewed songs as the sum of their parts with every component being as valuable as the other. With Nirvana writing such elegantly simple songs, Dave Grohl showed me that drum tracks needed to have energy; playing with intent and power. That keeping it simple is sometimes the best policy.

Lars Ulrich (Metallica)

As for both my drumming roots and music development, Metallica are still one of those bands that I hold dear in my heart. I’m a huge fan of all their studio albums except, really, for Reload and St. Anger… With that in mind, Lars’ drum sounds, feel, grooves and fills made a huge impact on me. They complimented James Hetfield’s riffs flawlessly. Looking at the song-writing credits on their albums, Ulrich was right next to Hetfield, teaching me about partnerships and working with other musicians to draw the best out of a song. Yet more specifically, on a style level, Lars taught me all about landing on 1 but crashing on 2 with the snare. Signature stuff, and so effective!

Billy Cobham

Ok, so I was a bit of a late starter as a drummer, but as a kid, my cousin introduced me to Billy Cobham’s 1973 album Spectrum. This has got to give me some credibility as a drummer, I hope! The drums on that album were fast, furious, yet had a tribal feel about them. Their tone was open and natural, and the music was syncopated. But, beyond this, the album introduced me to odd time signatures early on. And because of this, and the fact that this stuff was never explained to me as a kid, odd time signatures were never about odd time signatures, but about feel and how music could flow in different ways.

Matt Cameron (Soundgarden)

Before Wikipedia was a CD version of the internet called Microsoft Encarta. On the ’95 edition, which we had, if you searched for “Rock music” or “Electric guitar”, you’d get some audio samples from a couple bands. One of these was Soundgarden’s track Nothing To Say” from 1988’s Screaming Life / Fopp. The sample was only 30 seconds long or so… But that slow, brooding groove, the grace notes, off-kilter accents over the dark riffs and soaring vocals became a big part of my drumming roots.


Finding my drumming roots has been a great exercise, and a fun one at that! It’s let me revisit great memories, and given me a better understanding of myself as a drummer. I would totally encourage you to do the same if you haven’t. If you’re interested in listening to the albums that I refer to above see the list below then check ‘em out on Spotify, Apple Music or preferred music streaming service.


The Beatles Help (1964), Rubber Soul (1965), Anthology 2 (1996), Beatles For Sale (1964), Live At The BBC (1994) – Drums: Ringo Starr

Phil Collins … But Seriously (1989) – Drums: Phil Collins

Dire Straits On Every Street (1991) – Drums: Jeff Porcaro, Manu Katché

Pearl Jam Ten (1991) – Drums: Dave Krusen, Vs. (1993) – Drums: Dave Abbruzzese

Nirvana Nevermind (1991) – Drums: Dave Grohl, Bleach (1989) – Drums: Chad Channing, Dale Grover

Soundgarden Screaming Life / Fopp (1990), Superunknown (1994) – Drums: Matt Cameron

Billy Cobham Spectrum (1973) – Drums: Billy Cobham

Megadeth Countdown To Extinction (1991), Youthanasia (1994) – Drums: Nick Menza

Queen Greatest Hits I (1981), Greatest Hits II (1991) – Drums: Roger Taylor

Metallica Master Of Puppets (1986), Metallica (1991) – Drums: Lars Ulrich

Bill Haley & His Comets Greatest Hits (N/A) – Drums: Ralph Jones

Criminal Victimzed (1994) – Drums: J.J. Vallejo

Drum Lesson: Get More Out Of Your Triplets Part 3

Drum Lesson: Get More Out Of Your Triplets Part 3

Core Skills

Timing: You should aim to explore the accuracy of your strokes, ensuring that the rhythms are clear and performed cleanly.

Motion: Be aware of your movements! Moving these rhythms around the drum set might involve motions that you’re not used to, so take the time to understand this. Smooth motions will have a positive impact on your timing!

Fluidity and creativity: By exploring different ways of applying these triplets, you will open up new possibilities to incorporate into your fills and grooves. Mix your creative output with these triplets with eighth or sixteenth note phrases to loosen your fluidity, and spice things up.

Each example in these articles are just that: examples. 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!


How To Practice These

  • Practice each example slowly, and build speed when you’ve achieved fluid quality
  • Start first on the snare drum until you’re comfortable, then orchestrate as you please
  • Turn each idea into a 4-bar phrase.
  • Also try playing 4 bars of a groove, and 4 bars of the ideas
  • Play simple time, and try using shuffle grooves
  • Create your own rhythmic variations of each example
  • Focus, and explore this in detail

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