loud cymbals and missed rim shots


Senior Member

I have recorded myself with video and audio at my last two practices behind a kit. It's a very enlightening process but has thrown up a couple of things that I need to work on and was wondering if anyone had tips/comments please.

As a reference, I play metal, basically anything from 80's thrash to Tesseract. 95% of my practice is away from a drum kit, slapping sticks on my knees and slapping my feet on a hard floor. Seems to be OK for building co-ordination but obviously it isnt helping me with stick-to-cymbal and stick-to-snare technique.

My first problem is cymbals. They are so damn loud! I didnt realise this before recording myself. OK, I realise that cymbals arent inherently loud, but they are very easy to hit with a medium force to make them loud. I remeber Benny Greb saying something very logical along the lines of 'cymbals are made of metal, not wood', trying to get the point across that you dont need to hit them as hard as snares/toms/bass drums. The problem is that the music I like to play is very high energy and I like to feel this in my drumming. This usually presents itself as me wailing away on various pieces of the kit, but in the end the cymbals win out.

I guess my question is, how do you wail on a cymbal in a controlled way? I guess a bit like how sports entertainment wrestlers fight? Aside from a one-piece lycra suit, is there anything to help me?

Second is how do I get consistent at rim shots? I love using them most all of the time but these videos made me realise that i miss quite a few! I used the search function on the forum and one post said to loosen the thumb and index finger fulcrum and let the meat of the hand and the ring-pinky act as a temporary fulcrum while you make contact with the snare batter.

I think my problem though is that I hit only the rim sometimes and not the batter at all!

Oh, here is one of the recordings I made, for reference;


I realise sometimes I really jam the stick into the snare, without any 'wind up' at all. This is something that I am working on, and may help the rim shotting siutwtion a bit. Its more prevalent when I'm playing on the ride/hi-hat, because I am open-handed, my right hand doesnt seem to know what to do with all that space!! Hehe, a bit awkward to watch for me :)


Senior Member
Hey dude
Hitting cymbals "lightly" or efficiently i would moreso call it, is technique and takes practice in itself. Once ur comfortable hitting it that way along with your regular drum playing, it does wonders for overall life of ur cymbals.

Id present to u one video clip among many as a decent example: https://youtu.be/1pG4p04U_f0

In fact most of the cymbal testing vids from this shop are similar and i watch a lot of them to refer to general sound of them.

There are mainly two types of techniques and both are displayed there. One is to strike and naturally end with a bit of "slide" your stroke off to the side. It projects the cymbals full sound without hammering down on it. Should also sound a bit softer than chopping ur stroke downwards like a samurai sword.

The other technique i like to use is "upstroking" your followup after making contact. I often use this with my non dominant (left hand) and use the momentum of it to move back into my snare or toms in sort of an upwards oval shape. Basically upon making a precise initial contact with the cymbals sweet spot, dont follow through down but "bounce up" with your stick in hands lightly.

Hope these help

Edit: well, i just realized u want to "wail" on the cymbals in a controlled way... lol. I just got done explaining how not to wail on it haha. Sorry. I misread. Ill keep it on here still for good measure. Took 2 long to type all this just to delete it haha.

I dont play much metal but physiologically speaking id assume u can "wail" on cymbals in a controlled way by using more of ur elbow as a focal point and using ur wrists as ur striking control. Many people break cymbals because they use their entire forearm muscles and using elbows as a slightshot and realsing it straight to bring it down on the cymbals. Id bend the wrists to strike them down while keeping the elbows bent at all times.


Senior Member
If you use cymbals that are a little lighter and/or a little smaller you can wail away without overpowering the rest of the group.

But I think the best and only way to get more consistent with the rim shots is to spend more time on the kit. There's no substitute for time spent training the hands for consistency. Sorry, I know that's probably not easy or you'd already be doing it.


"Uncle Larry"
Loud cymbals....learn to hit them with less force. They sound amazing when controlled. It's more about you being comfortable inside with less cymbal volume. For metal, I'm not sure if that is good advice though. Judging from your playing, IMO you don't impart too much volume to your cymbal. Some guys just give it all they have. I really don't like that sound, but maybe in metal it's needed.

Rimshot...I touch my hand to my thigh for a consistent stick position. I angle my snare so when I drop the stick down to the snare, it naturally makes a rimshot. I play rimshots mostly all the time. Quiet ones, because I like the shell tone, and I balance it with the head tone. My band is not a loud band, so I have the dynamic headroom and legroom to play with volume. A really loud band is a different animal dynamically speaking from a drummers POV. There's not as much room for finesse with volume to my ear.

Drums don't have to be all go no stop. it sounds great when a drummer doesn't have to split eardrums to play drums.


Senior Member
Rimshot...I touch my hand to my thigh for a consistent stick position.
I do this exact thing. When I really get into it I'll end up with a bruise on my inner thigh from it. After a year and a half back playing, they still aren't consistent as I'd like them to be but playing on the snare alone ,messing with the rim seems to help with control and placement for me.

On your cymbals, it looks like you are hitting the edge of that ride so that will be louder than if you hit the top of it with the tip of the stick. If the edge of the ride is the sound you want, try moving your arms as normal but when you get almost to the cymbal, just fling your wrist at it so you are using maybe 90% arm but that last 10% is mostly wrist.

I hope that didn't confuse you, not entirely awake yet,haha


Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Both of the questions you ask have the same answer. Practice. And tough to do on one's knees. Won't be easy pounding on the drums and using some finesse on the cymbals, but that is what you have to practice. Rim shots as well. Sit in the same exact place or position , hold the sticks the same, and put your snare in the same exact place. If any of these change, you will not be consistent. Golfers hit thousands of balls to get the ball in the same place with a particular club. Your clubs are your hands and sticks and must take the same path to the drum when it's located in the same position overtime. Practice seems like a simple answer, but that's what it will take.

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member

You can sort of keep the skill if you sort of have it on a pad as it's still about the consistency of the stroke not necessarily the surface.

I play my real kit all the time and like anything I made the backbeat the main priority for a long time.

If you must use a practice kit most of the time, set something up or get a different pad so you have a rim to hit. I've been practicing rim shots on a regular pad for years, though. It works.

A consistent backbeat is one of those things that set drummers apart and it's really about just making it a focus. Like with any other instrument, sound quality and clear basic expression comes first.


Platinum Member
I do the thigh thing too for rim shots-it just works perfectly right. But really I'm not big on rim shots and only use them if a song really beckons for them. I like the cross stick sound but I've never been a big rimshot fan=I like to hear that stick hit the head alone and hear the tone of a snare.


Senior Member
Thank you so much for the responses!

A lot of things for me to think about.

Arne - I dont really even have a practice kit anymore, nowadays its literally my sticks hitting 'air toms' and 'air cymbals' while I hit my thigh for a snare. Saying that, your notion of creating a 'practice rim' has given me an idea :).

Guntersdad - I am often in a rush to set the kit up how I like it but I will endeavor from now on to concentrate on getting the snare the same everytime! I usually set the throne as low as it will go (aim for my thighs parallel to ground) but I havent settled on where the snare is from there. Varies between crotch to belly button. Guess I should spend time finding my sweet spot.

Galaxy and Larry - thanks for the thigh-hitting tip! I like the idea

PlaytheSong - I have already moved down from 20 inch medium-heavy crash to 18 inch medium. Anything less doesnt sound right for me I'm afriad. Its a good point about practice though and has made me realise that i need to actually set aside time just for this when i get on the kit!

TripleStroke - Ta for the reply! Will try to focus on my wrists in relation to cymbal work.

PushPullStroke - I have listened to a bit of Slipknot but never watched Joey play. I just watched a few vids of him on YouTube and I see what you mean. Interestingly though, in the vids of him using his Ahead (metal) sticks, the cymbals are waaaay too loud to my ears. Using his Pro-mark (wooden) sticks it sounds very well balanced to me. I'm using vic firth x55 (somewhere between a long 5b and a rock stick), so I may have to take the larger stick into account and kay off a bit. I guess I could try 5a's but the x55b feels perfect in my hand, like a true extension of my arm.

Thanks again everyone


Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
And the constant in all of this is your body. Height, arm length, leg length, etc. I would suggest putting your throne at a height that your knees are a little lower than your hips. Not etched in stone, but better for your back overall. since your body is one set of dimensions, your set needs to fit this overtime.

The SunDog

It's the recording. Cymbals almost always come out loud and trashy on cam and cell phone recordings. Some of your technique needs improving, some of it is really good too, but that's not making the cymbals too loud. Your bass drum is way too quiet. Again, it's the recording. Cheap camera and cell phone mics pick up a ton of high end and white noise.


Senior Member
It's the recording. Cymbals almost always come out loud and trashy on cam and cell phone recordings. Some of your technique needs improving, some of it is really good too, but that's not making the cymbals too loud. Your bass drum is way too quiet. Again, it's the recording. Cheap camera and cell phone mics pick up a ton of high end and white noise.

+1 to cymbals not having the most flattering sound on cameras. I didn't feel you were playing them too loud if you are playing in metal context. Still, it's great that you are working on having more control because there might be situations where you'll have to be more subtle.
Also I think I read you didn't have a practice kit, it would be great to at least have a practice pad, those things to wonders for your hand technique

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Yeah, just putting up a cam or phone in that position wiil pretty much always sound like that.

It is possible to get a decent sound from a portable recorder with one good mic, but you have to put it in front of the kit.

I don't really have an issue with the balance.

The open handed groove wasn't really happening, bet that's not really the theme of this thread, so..

Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
Technique explanations are good but it really comes down to your ear. Listen to when the rim shots sound good and repeat that motion. Drill that in.

Similar thing with the cymbals.

I've found that approaching things from that perspective makes the whole thing less technical and more musical


Junior Member
We are definitely our own worst critics, the video you linked is great in my opinion!

Looks like there are a lot of great responses to your questions above. I just want to let you know that to my eyes and ears your issues don't seem to prevalent and your playing is certainly convincing.


Senior Member
Thank you SpookyCadaver, you don't know how much those kind words mean to me :). I am a sucker for validation it turns out!

I have really enjoyed reading this thread, so thank you to all those who contributed. I especially enjoyed the teccnical description of different types of rimshot! - just a quick update;

I have got an old Vic Firth practice pad, so thank you for those who suggested that. I am enjoying going over some rudiments on it and also some hand-foot co-ordination stuff (mostly the Thomas Pridgen stuff that he recorded with Drumeo - worth a look if you haven't already seen it).

A big revelation for me is that I am actually enjoying not rim-shotting every snare hit! A few of you mention it above and (with the music I am into) I thought it kind of backwards but I am beginning to see the appeal. My hands haven't felt this relaxed playing in a long time! I might start keeping rim-shots for those "turned up to 11" moments from now on.

I think I big part of my obsession with rimshot's is the recorded drum sound of modern metal music. Even if the original recording was played without hitting the snare rim, all of the effects and EQ (maybe even some sampling) used in modern metal drum-sound processing make it 'sound' as if the snare is being rimshotted on every beat. Which is fine. But I think myself (and certainly a lot of big names in the YouTube Metal scene) try to rimshot every note live to match the recorded sound.


Silver Member
I honestly dislike the modern sampled effects used a lot in metal and other genres. Sure it's quicker and easier than properly mixing the kit, but it sounds crap compared to a well-mixed acoustic kit.

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned ensuring your snare drum is set at a comfortable height.

If you want to be good at rimshots, your number one priority is to ensure the snare drum is set at the right height and angle for you. Sit down at your kit with your sticks in your hands, and just let them relax and rest on the drum. Are you sticks sitting roughly in the rimshot position (body on rim and tip at the centre of the head), or are they kinked up or down, or at odd angles? If your snare is too low or tilted towards you too much, then you won't be able to hit the drum at a natural wrist angle (i.e., your wrist will be tilted up too much), and if it's too high or tilted away too much, then you will find it difficult to miss the rim.

Many drummers play with the snare tilted too far towards them, this makes it very difficult to play consistent, comfortable rimshots. In an ideal situation, try and get your snare as flat as possible. For me, I've found it is most comfortable being raised a teensy bit higher and slightly tilted towards me, but in actuality due to experience and practice, I can adapt easily.

But whilst you're learning (and especially as you have minimal kit time), it's important to get the drum in a comfort position and this needs to be consistent between set-ups at rehearsals. I never actually break down my stands - I only fold the legs up and leave everything at their positions, that way I never have to find the right settings every time I set the kit up. Using tape markings on your carpet will also help you to quickly get exactly the same positions every time you move the kit.

On the topic of cymbals, I feel this has been adequately covered, but I think the best thing you can do is sit down and just hit your cymbals at different velocities. Listen to them, and work out the optimum level of force you need to get the maximum response out of the cymbal. Then make the effort never to exceed this velocity. When you're playing live and throwing a lot of energy into the kit, you can actually feign it with hitting your cymbals, but this comes from consistent practice - you can wind up a great big back swing but still control the hit so you're never actually hitting the cymbals hard. Hit your drums as hard as you want though! Let them sing :)