First of all, this is not a duplicate of this question. That question is asking about how to reliable do rim shots, and the answer was to practice. This question is about the practicing part.

Plainly doing rim shots seem boring and ineffective. If you stop playing, do a random fill, then try to start again, you will probably not get a good rim shot because you don't know the exact position; before you just experimented, found the spot, and held it there without knowing where it is or gaining any experience.

Are there any simple techniques for getting good rim shots 80-90% of the time? Also, my left hand seems to miss quite a lot more than my right; are there any specific left-heavy exercises? Any help would be appreciated.

  • 3
    You can't play a good rim shot without a good punchline. [insert rim shot] Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 4:44
  • 2
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 6:29
  • 1
    Oh dear, @DrMayhem, I've got a feeling I'm going to be using that a LOT... Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 11:57

2 Answers 2


Not so much how to practise, but how to make the difference between a regular strike & a rimshot easier to determine, plus an unexpected extra benefit.

Change your snare drum angle.
Or even all your drums' angles, if you want to be able to do this with accurate repetition round the entire kit.

I have my entire kit set in such a way that the difference in stroke needed to clean strike or rimshot requires possibly as little as a 2mm difference in how I aim for the skin. [I've never actually measured it, but it's very small]

The downside is when you're first practising, you may tend to rimshot when you didn't mean to.

A slight 'cheat' to try prevent that for the snare is to set the height so if you rimshot, your hand hits your leg too, very slightly.
YMMV on that one, I guess it would depend on how close into the body you set the snare. Too far away & your knee-height will change too much as you play hats & kick. I keep mine tight in, so there is only very small variation. I also predominantly strike the skins about ⅔ towards the far side, for extra ring; I rarely pull back & hit in the very centre, so I am probably naturally a couple of inches closer in than most drummers sit.

The upsides are two-fold.

  • The small angle-change required makes it eventually very easy to switch from one to the other with little more than a thought.

  • The perhaps unexpected second benefit is that the perfect angle to strike a skin to get the best sound from it is actually about 1mm before you hit the rim. The flatter your stick to the skin, the sweeter the strike. Also - less effort input for more potential volume output.

As to left-heavy exercises …
Play entire songs in only rimshot.
In many gigs across the years I've had occasion to do that for some songs, as that's how they were written, or that's how to generate a sound closer to the original track, etc, without swapping snare drums over.
It certainly builds reliability of successful repetition.

  • I've also noticed that using Hot Rods / Blasticks or whatever you call them gets you a more reliable rimshot. How can I use this to get an advantage?
    – Pyraminx
    Commented May 2, 2015 at 0:53
  • They possibly do it because they bend slightly, making the angle of attack less critical. I don't really use them much [once a year or two], so I'm not really all that familiar with them
    – Tetsujin
    Commented May 2, 2015 at 14:25

Try finding a song with a lot of activity on the snare and make all (or even some of) the accents rim-shots. I find Californication really fun to practice rim-shots and drags to because the snare part is very involved with drags, rim shots and accents immediately after rim-shots (a skill which can be harder to learn than you may expect), but really any song with decent snare parts will do!

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