Playing shaker with a drumkit


Hey all, I'm getting more and more into the idea of playing tunes wherein I substitute the hi-hat for a shaker (or maracas, whichever I like better), similar to the approach in the Prince song "Dear Mr Man."

I was wondering if anybody here does that, has any technique pointers, thoughts on it, what to keep in mind, etc.


I've done it live with electronic pads with good outcome (Yamaha DTX-12), sometimes playing it live myself, or triggering a shaker loop on and off.

So I can help with e-drumming questions, but not much experience playing a real shaker while also drumming.


Gold Member
use the dw 2000 series foot tambourine pedal. I use it without the plastic stop that comes with it and it adds tons of groove feels to songs.


Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
use the dw 2000 series foot tambourine pedal. I use it without the plastic stop that comes with it and it adds tons of groove feels to songs.
I agree to use a pedal (with a cabasa maybe?) to keep both hands free. Sure drummers can hold a shaker in one hand and a stick in the other, but why work that hard? (unless it's for looks.)



Platinum Member
I have a little shaker next to the kit and I wrote "money maker" on it. That way, whenever I'm asked to play it I can say "Oh, so you want me to shake my money maker?". When they say yes, I get up and start un-zipping.


Platinum Member
I like the idea of that Meinl foot shaker, but I remember seeing Brian Blade using a coffee travel mug.


Gold Member
I dig it. I've several different styles of shakers, they all get used, rain sticks, ocean drum, Monster cans filled with rice, sleigh bells, raw hide maraca, bundles of seed pods. I have one that has jingles on a nail kind of like a tambourine it's great for that fast funky beat. Really like a shekere hung by the chords, I don't have to put down the sticks to play it. I've mounted the sleigh bells on the hihat, so I can swap them out. I am planning on making some actual guourd maracas this fall when the guards are on sale, I think these can be tuned to pitches and played in sort of a harmony. I find some shakers can function as sticks or beaters themselves, for example the seed shakers sound great on wood blocks and drums.


Silver Member
I initially balked at the idea of using a shaker behind the kit, but I have grown to like it a lot.

We had one tune in the set that basically required a shaker, bass drum, and a sizzle cymbal. Faced with purchasing yet another pedal and learning an unfamiliar (to me) technique, or picking up a shaker, I opted for the latter.

Simple problem-simple and cost-effective solution. Maybe not a good option for everyone, but we play folk-indie so it fits what we do perfectly.

For the price of a shaker, it's easy enough to try...


Gold Member
Didnt Billy Ward used to put a shaker in his shoe? Thats another idea, not requiring additional purchases.


Senior Member
I have a pair of Meinl (I think) small plastic maracas that I sometimes use along with drums. They have a short thin grip so I can hold one or even both maracas *and* a drumstick (see attached pics). The grip on the drumstick is not too strong but enough to play simple hi-hat patterns and easy fills. Playing hard might hurt, though... so I don't.


Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
It's a great texture option when keeping things down, with a cajon setup and so on.

Nothing wrong with looks in that regard. It's also less weight and you may want to change shakers not just between songs, but during.


Platinum Member
My band plays Riptide, which is a fairly quiet number.

I use hot rods (or similar), and hold a plastic shaker along with the rod bundle in my right hand, which makes it easy to switch between shaking and 'regular' drumming.


Platinum Member
I saw a drummer playing tambourine instead of hihats for "You can't hurry love" It fitted the uptempo shuffle really well.


Gold Member
I've not had to "ride" a shaker but I do use one on a couple songs. I use the Alesis sample pad for that purpose. Not sure what I would do if I needed to use it in place of a HH or ride.
My old rock band used to play The Beatles' "The Night Before" occasionally, and for the chorus I liked to play a shaker. So I just folded a towel on my floor tom and left a maraca on it, handle in. When I was ready to go to the chorus I would crash 1 left-handed, grab up the maraca right-handed (keeping the stick in the right hand), and start shaking on 2 (2+3+4+|1+2+3+4+|...).

To get back to the verse I would play a left-handed snare pattern until I could drop the maraca back on the folded towel, then just a quick adjust of the stick in my right hand and I'm back in Ringoland.

For me the key was the folded towel. It gave me something to sink my fingers into and quickly grab the maraca and something soft to drop it on without causing drum chatter (or having it roll off onto the floor).

Crowd loved it.

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
I tried a shaker last night on a song. It was fun. We were doing "Magic Bus" by The Who. I shook maracas with the right hand. Played hihats and snare with the left hand & foot, and I laid down a Bo Diddley beat with my bass drum. Good times! I want to re-visit that song with this beat. I like to diversify my beats.