Chops?

marthared

Member
Being fairly new to the drumming world (about 3 years), I'm still catching up on the vocabulary... Can you guys tell me what's meant by "chops"? I may be auditioning for another band tomorrow night, and the guy that emailed me said "Our last drummer was really nice but didn't 'have the chops'" Not sure if this means he didn't have the complexity of fills, etc. that they wanted, or that his rhythm wasn't tight,... or something else.. Here's what I found on the web:

"Chops" means technical proficiency.
Your ability to execute a solid snare roll, high hat shuffle, double bass pounding heavy metal style, etc.
You keep a rock steady beat and can handle challenging pieces of music, i.e. tricky time signatures like 12/8 and 12/4."


That definition sounds like it simply means your ability to play and sound good! lol....! Does that sound right? Don't wanta ask him, as I'd look pretty green :) Help! Thanks!
 

Arky

Platinum Member
Martha - yes, that's basically it. Just the generalisation of good playing skills and having one's stuff together.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
Being fairly new to the drumming world (about 3 years), I'm still catching up on the vocabulary... Can you guys tell me what's meant by "chops"? I may be auditioning for another band tomorrow night, and the guy that emailed me said "Our last drummer was really nice but didn't 'have the chops'" Not sure if this means he didn't have the complexity of fills, etc. that they wanted, or that his rhythm wasn't tight,... or something else.. Here's what I found on the web:

"Chops" means technical proficiency.
Your ability to execute a solid snare roll, high hat shuffle, double bass pounding heavy metal style, etc.
You keep a rock steady beat and can handle challenging pieces of music, i.e. tricky time signatures like 12/8 and 12/4."


That definition sounds like it simply means your ability to play and sound good! lol....! Does that sound right? Don't wanta ask him, as I'd look pretty green :) Help! Thanks!
Having the chops, to me, means having the ability to play the signature fills in a song, nail the beats properly, keep good time most importantly, and have a few styles of playing in your repertoire. Pretty much what you just said.

I'm a pretty decent drummer in some bands, but I don't play double-bass. I don't have the chops for a Thrash Metal band, but I do have the chops for a classic rock band or even a funk band.
 

Duracell

Senior Member
As a side-note. Chops are relative. What's fast and complicated for one drummer is slow and simple for another.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I think it's fair to say that chops can mean a few different things. Chops to me means you have a good vocabulary (not just fills) and just as critical, the execution of your all around playing is clean, not sloppy. Technically proficient is a good way to describe it, like the definition you found.

Having good chops.... implies that you have a good grasp of how to get around a drumset, and have the ability to make the drums sound effective, not someone who overplays for the situation.

Chops mean different things to different people. It's a pretty far reaching and not very clearly defined term.

A person can have great chops and not be an effective drummer. Chops.... if you think of them simply as fast, clean playing.... have to be combined with musical maturity to really shine.

Your take-away...having the ability to play and sound good, is as good a definition as any. It's a pretty ambiguous term.

Hope your audition goes the way you want it to.
 
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DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Among drummers, chops generally refers to being ale to play complex fills or ideas smoothly.

But in the context of the conversation from the band, what Midnite said:
Having the chops, to me, means having the ability to play the signature fills in a song, nail the beats properly, keep good time most importantly, and have a few styles of playing in your repertoire. Pretty much what you just said.
.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
If we go back to where , I believe, the term "Licks and chops" originated, the guitar. Chops meant chords, the basics, and licks, meaning riffs and solos.

So if you transpose that to the drum kit I would take chops to mean the basics, and licks to mean the fancy stuff like fills ans solo's.
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
If we go back to where , I believe, the term "Licks and chops" originated, the guitar. Chops meant chords, the basics, and licks, meaning riffs and solos.
not where the terms originated at all

it was a slang term used by jazz musicians referring to cats who could play and had the courage to put their expression out there

the meaning in its origin is very simple

it means you can hang.... thats it

for example... the band leaders calls a tune and looks to the bass player he is unfamiliar with and says ... " Cherokee, you got the chops?".... asking him if he can hang

today it has taken on some self indulgent acrobatic definition .... now a musical phrase is referred to as a "chop"
.... and "chops" now often means look how fast and unmusically I can play this passage
 

marthared

Member
Thanks so much for your replies... sounds pretty subjective.. I was trying to figure out if the guy meant that his drummer couldn't keep tight rhythm and perform basic stuff, or if they're expecting a drummer that is more dynamic and showy, more experienced. I guess I'll just call him and ask!!! I'll also find out tomorrow night :)
Thanks again!
 
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larryace

"Uncle Larry"
In reference to the other drummer, it sounds to me like the guy you are auditioning for, just didn't like the overall playing of the former drummer. I don't get the impression that he was being specific.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
not where the terms originated at all

it was a slang term used by jazz musicians referring to cats who could play and had the courage to put their expression out there

the meaning in its origin is very simple

it means you can hang.... thats it

for example... the band leaders calls a tune and looks to the bass player he is unfamiliar with and says ... " Cherokee, you got the chops?".... asking him if he can hang

today it has taken on some self indulgent acrobatic definition .... now a musical phrase is referred to as a "chop"
.... and "chops" now often means look how fast and unmusically I can play this passage
Ha, Tony up to his usual "I am right, this is how it is, end of story". You have to love the shy retiring guy. If he said, "I believe, or in my opinion" we could all discuss, but no, Its always "This is how it is".

A chop is just that, when you play a chord you "Chop" down with fingers or plectrum. A lick, as I was told, is a riff, or run, or if you string lots of licks together, a solo. End of story (As Tony is fond of saying). Only joking. I was told this by my old guitar teacher back in the late 50s, and it is used by most guitarists, so it has some weight.
 
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WhoIsTony?

Member
Ha, Tony up to his usual "I am right, this is how it is, end of story". You have to love the shy retiring guy.

A chop is just that, when you play a chord you "Chop" down with fingers or plectrum. A lick, as I say, is a riff, or run, or if you string lots of licks together, a solo. End of story (As Tony is fond of saying). Only joking. I was told this by my old guitar teacher back in the late 50s, and it is used by most guitarists, so it has some weight.
chop strumming is completely different than a players "chops"

and I don't think I have ever said "end of story" in my entire life

not trying to be the ..... "end of story" guy.... just clarifying

when a player says call this cat he has chops.... he simply means he can hang... thats it
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
A player's skill set......at least, that's what the term used to refer to.

These days it's come to mean many weird and wonderful things.....the most prominant of which seems to be playing fast and flashy. But back in the day, it simply meant that you were able to apply your skill set. "That guy's got great chops" didn't mean he was a contender for the WFD. It simply meant he could play musically. His musical interpretations were what was required for the song/artist/band.

It's also not a drumming term. It's a musical one in general. A guitarist can have "chops", a pianist can have "chops", as can a trumpet player.
 

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
I interpret chops as the vocabulary and speed to play fast or technical things.

Can I see a bigger photo of your dog?
 

MileHighDrummer

Senior Member
Exactly what Arky and Pocket...Gold said. It is your skill-set. If you've got your "chops" you (as Tony said above) can hang with the musicians you are playing with.
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
"Chops" comes from the old jazz horn players. Their "choppers" or mouths/lips, and what they could do with them. Initially it meant complete skill in playing. Tone production, range (especially for brass players) and facility (e.g. speed and ability to play odd intervals and phrasing). Over the years it kind of degenerated into the speed aspect of technique. But more experience musicians try to at least keep the overall quality of playing focus to the term.
 
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