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A standard snare drum rim shot, as I understand it, requires the stick to contact the drum head and rim simultaneously. I'm having trouble finding the appropriate angle (the majority of the time I just end up hitting the rim only).

Are there any tips I might want to consider in developing this technique?

Edit: One thing I am curious about is if the stick stroke is supposed to be any different from a regular articulation. The regular pivot point is beneath the grip, so for a rim shot we have to add a pivot point farther up the arm. Does this additional pivot point replace the first one (keeping the wrists static) or just supplement it?

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I want to lightly pre-empt anyone who might feel inclined to retag this drums--There is a lot of depth to snare drum technique outside of drumset, similar to how marimba will be separate from the rest of orchestral percussion. –  NReilingh Apr 29 '11 at 23:11
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@NReillingh, you have a point there but I'd say it would also be helpful to tag this with drums, because someone following the drums tag may have a good answer, or may have something to learn from this. –  edgerunner May 2 '11 at 1:13
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@edgerunner : you might perhaps propose wiki edits for those tags. –  ogerard May 2 '11 at 14:25
    
Listening Copeland for ages helps :) –  Pitto Aug 24 '11 at 13:10

7 Answers 7

Letting your arm drop a bit down and pulling it inward can line up your stroke such that the head of the stick strikes the drum head just before the shoulder strikes the rim. If these two impacts happen very close to each other you get a great rimshot with the overtones of the shell speaking through the head of the drum.

Practice is, of course, absolutely necessary - but it does not have to be boring. Set up a drum or a rimmed pad and go nuts with rolls and rim shots. A good rimshot happens with the relaxation of the arm, not a forceful redirection - the stick, rim, and head will all play a part in the sound. This is why having fun with it is the best way to get it nailed down.

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Besides the standard stick-on-stick trick, you can cheat a bit by adjusting your snare such that you have the perfect rimshot position with your left hand when you hit your thigh with your hand. For long-term results, I don't recommend this trick though, as it limits your freedom a bit.

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As with mastering any technique, you need to practice ... a lot.

That said, I would also suggest you try changing the angle of the snare drum a little bit. Try a few different angles to see if you can find one that results in hitting the perfect rimshot more reliably. For instance, if you are consistently hitting only the rim, then it may help to position the drum so that the head is angled slightly more toward your body than you currently have it positioned.

To answer your additional question, about whether the stroke should be different: speaking from personal experience, I would say yes. When I execute a rimshot, I tend to use more elbow movement than normal, and less wrist movement (although, not necessarily keeping my wrist static). For one thing, this gives a lower overall pivot and it also increases the power of the stroke (I like to play my rimshots nice and loud).

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Ah, I didn't think of that. (+1) See question for edit... –  NReilingh Apr 30 '11 at 22:27
    
+1 for angle adjustment. Definitely worth mentioning that if you do this prepare to buy a lot more drum stick as you may end up going through them like there is no tomorrow! –  MrG Aug 26 '11 at 8:26

As a jazz drummer I normally do the stick on stick cheat.

When doing an actual rimshot, I usually change from traditional to matched. I find it much easier to get a solid rimshot because you can push downward with the force of your wrist. One main thing I would suggest: It is much better to hit the drum than the rim, so if you're going to over shoot, make sure its toward the drum and not the rim!

It also helps me to keep the snare drum generally low. After you practice it enough, you will be able to feel the angle on the way down, and you will feel yourself minutely correcting the angles and you will be able to hit 9/10 before you know it. I still miss sometimes; it happens! Just remember to hit more toward the drum if you're unsure or maybe do a cheat.

Hope this helps!

Also: it should feel slightly different than a regular stroke. I normally stick rimshots (don't rebound), so I also feel that extra force from controlling the rebound. This is speaking in drumset terms by the way, orchestral/drumline/drumset rimshots are excecuted differently based on needs. Orchestral rimshots should feel lighter and you should glide with the rebound, and hit with a bit less of the stick over the drum. In drumline, since you use bigger sticks and rimshots are usually intertwined with other figures, they shouldn't feel much different from a regular stroke. When I was in drumline, I would pull back a bit just to keep myself in line as to where regular strokes and rimshots fall. For drumset, you're looking for power most of the time, so you should do just that, hit harder and with more of the stick!

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Over-correction is good.

Start by hitting the rim with the middle of the stick angled a little bit away from the head, so as to make sure the tip can't hit. Slowly decrease the angle with each hit. Fairly soon you'll develop muscle memory of where the proper angle is.

A thing to note: unlike simply playing a snare, rim shots require being quite familiar with the snare incline angle. Do develop some incline angle you like playing it, and stick to it, i.e. always adjust the snare you're playing.

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One should add that you should practise this with old sticks... –  groovingandi Aug 25 '11 at 9:56

Here's one that seems to work for me but I don't know if this is a proper way to do it

  • Hold the stick towards as far the lower end as you are comfortable with
  • Sharply strike the rim with the part of the stick just outside your hand. Try to keep the stick roughly parallel to the drum
  • When you get it right, the stick's center of gravity should end up ahead of the rim, inside the drum head. The stick's momentum will force it to pivot on the rim and force the tip onto the drum. If the tip is bouncing up before striking the drum, hold the stick further down and/or strike closer to your hand.
  • Keep your grip barely loose enough to let the tip continue and strike the drum.

Hope this helps and please let me know if it works for you.

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There's the standard cheat: put one stick down on the rim with the tip on the head, and hit it hard with the other stick.

For the one-stick rim shot: practice practice practice. Before long you'll be able to do it with your eyes closed. (Unfortunately you can't practice this one on the practice pad -- you just have to make lots of noise on a real drum.)

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"practice practice practice" indeed. you'll drive everyone in earshot insane but it's the only way. –  dddppp Apr 30 '11 at 15:29
    
@Mark I've never found a practice pad I couldn't hit a psuedo-rimshot on; There's always a way to hit the pad with the shoulder of the stick and not the tip to produce a different sound. There's no rim actually involved, but getting the perfect stick angle is what's important, and this is a great way to practice that. :D –  Gordon Gustafson Jul 8 '11 at 21:36

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