groove vs chops?

Bart Hodge

Senior Member
You should listen to The Police more. Stewart Copeland most certainly can groove. Take into consideration it's Sting on bass and quick reggae. It's not the same as listening to Steve Jordan, but he is in the pocket.

Neil Peart though? No, he doesn't groove in the least.

Add to the list most, if not all, of the WFD guys.

Some people cite Stewart Copeland as a guy with chops who doesn't groove. IMO Neil Peart qualifies as well. If I'm not mistaken, Thomas Lang was cited as fitting this description too.
I'm not getting into this silly little discussion..... but I will express that I hate this "new" definition of "chops"

all "chops" ever meant to me and anyone I studied with was that you could play and make the music sound and feel good

like....the band leader calls..."Cherokee , you got the chops to keep up ?."

now all the sudden it means you distract the music with flurries of 64th note linear patterns and blinding over the top licks and being able to perform speedy acrobatics on the drum kit

in my school of thought being able to groove is a chop

I have never understood this distinction either.


Senior Member
I would like to mention Terry Bozzio. I would not say that he can really groove. He plays grooves. He has an incredible talent. But the man is like a drum machine. I saw a drum channel video one time and I'm not sure who he was with but for the life of him he could not play in between swung and straight time.


Platinum Member
Ah yes, the endless thsi vs. that of DW topics

To commemorate ....a poem of the day:

Oh what behoove, chops versus groove?
Surely you're aghast, some snares use die cast
Would one be demoted, for using clear over coated?
And is it really Ringo.... versus everybody?


Silver Member
I'm glad gene pool did not make it to the poem.
Nothing rhymes with it and colour of skin has nothing to do with groove anyway.


Senior Member
I tend to agree with others who feel that chops is being able to keep up confidently. I think going on an all out assault is related more to virtuoism. I think chops are related to feel in that your feel is uniquely yours. It's how yours and my chops feel. Any one of us can lay down a solid 4/4 to a click and be in time but it's the touch and feel which translates into your groove.


Platinum Member
I find the concepts of groove and chop as well defined as a common use of the term 'god'.

The conversation goes no where without clear agreed definitions as most of the discussions devolve to symantec arguments....and veiled lack of self confidence.

With this in mind, the criticisims I tend to hear lead me to believe that the criticisers are trying to attack to deal with a percieved weakness they themselves hold...a common occurance....while the people taking an opposite stance without logical agreed points of discussion are just as defensive.

Its kind of an ego flailing pit IMHO....almost an attempt to get people to disclose their fears about their own playing...a potentialy fruitful group therapy session...but usually sans therapist and use.


Silver Member
First, I apologize for bringing up a beat-to-death subject. On the other hand I love the replies.

It seems that most discussions do lack clear definitions all agree on to use for foundation.

The drummers mentioned above ... Peart is not someone I have followed a lot but a career as long as his in RUSH ... he grooves RUSH I reckon. Whether he can swing was on display in the Buddy Rich gigs. Can he play funky grooves? Can Terry Bozzio? He grooved well enough for Zappa and Missing Persons. He lays down some really cool beats in his clinics. Can he play Motown and R&B? I don't know. Is that the definition of groove? A particular style of music it functions within? For some it seems to be. For others, no. Then how can it be said Peart does not groove?

I just watched a vid of Stewart Copeland playing School Days with Stanley Clarke. He was grooving hard in my book.

My point of reference was the thread on the gospel chops players. I do not understand the questions about groove, especially with those guys.

On another forum Dylan Elise came up. The guy is a monster. Yet, right away came the comments, yeah, but can he groove? Why is it assumed technically excellent players cannot groove? That's what I do not understand.

Perhaps Otto states some truth.


Platinum Member
I'm glad gene pool did not make it to the poem.
Nothing rhymes with it and colour of skin has nothing to do with groove anyway.
What is it in the gene pool
That makes our chops groovy
And keeps our grooves cool?

And if groove no delighted beauty lack
Who gives a rats which drummer is white
Or which of his brothers black?

Bart Hodge

Senior Member
I think the original question was pretty straight-forward. His question was easily definable.

Chops - Basically someone that could throw down an amazing solo. Technically proficient. There are a lots of guys that make my jaw drop by themselves but do nothing for me with other musicians.

Groove - Even a pattern as stupidly-simple as a straight 8th notes is "it". There have been sound clips and videos posted that demonstrate "groove". The Jeff Porcaro/Toto video of Georgy Porgy in (Paris 1990) comes to mind. I'm more impressed with this group as it fits my style of playing.

So to answer his question, what guys fit both? Vinnie, Weckl, Gadd, Dennis Chambers, David Garibaldi to name a few.

Not to confuse the issue, but I use chops two ways. First, the way I mentioned above but if someone says to me, "Does he/she have the chops to play the gig?", it means something total different. Chops = ability. However, that is not how the original question was asked.


Gold Member
I don't know where people get this, that a Groove is something for somebody to write a song over, or that a good groove is easy to work with. There you go nice and tame docile little groover, now B good and play some eighth notes ... You can totally groove solo, furthermore a good groove can be very rough to work with, especially if you don't get it, feel me? Maybe many people don't get the tight-nit interlocking rhythms that are the staple of good percussion ensembles, nor do they get that a groove isn't a constant repetitive time keeping rhythm, but tough cookies, get some mental independence and coordination... learn to tap your foot, better yet take a break.


Platinum Member
You can't build a house with chops.
But you can build one with a chop saw or chop gun.

I always find the chops vs groove thing ridiculous. So much talk on here about "this groove" or "that groove", and "but can he groove" or "he has no groove". Also, there is the common "chops are a means to an end" and "chops wont get you paid". Now I ask all you anti-chops folks, are you happy only playing slow single strokes, or do you have some tricks up your sleeve? And why on earth do I keep finding these same people in the Technique section asking and/or answering chops oriented questions?