How to control ghost notes- tips and techniques?


Platinum Member
For me, the most important ghost note lesson was something like......

Play a money beat, kick on 1 and snare on 3 for a couple measures
Change to 16th notes on the hat for a couple measures.
Back to the money beat
Change to 16th notes on the snare for a couple measure while doing 8th notes on the hat and accenting/rimshotting the 3 (Play every Ghost Note)
Back to the money beat
Change to 16th notes on both the hat/snare while accenting/rimshotting the 3 (unisons)
Back to the top and repeat (money beat)

Try another foot pattern, for example, move the right hand to the ride and do the same over a samba ostinato
Once you have the hang of this, do the same in triplets

The issue I have with ghost notes is that, while you're practicing them, they tend to work their way into your regular playing in a manner that border's on overuse. Like a guitarist that is developing their right hand in lessons tends to become Mr. Doo-Whacka-Doo-Strummer on stage rather than tastefully applying picking in the restrained manner appropriate to the song. Make certain to reality check your playing on occasion, else you end up sounding like a HS marching band when you go to play Mustang Sally.


Senior Member
Am I mistaken in equating "ghost" notes with "tap" strokes? If I am, I apologize, but I've always thought they were one and the same and simply the quietest of the three different types of strokes in terms of volume (ie. accent - ff, rebound - mf, tap - pp).

Still, I would also caution the OP to not make their ghost strokes too quiet, and that certain descriptive terms may result in that. To me, a barely audible ghost stroke is as unmusical as an ear splitting accent. Sure, you want your accents to pop, and your ghost strokes to be an undercurrent to what you're playing, but a balance should also be struct between them, otherwise the two together won't sound good. Simply put, I think "ghost" notes should have a nice tone despite being quiet.


Platinum Member
Am I mistaken in equating "ghost" notes with "tap" strokes? If I am, I apologize, but I've always thought they were one and the same and simply the quietest of the three different types of strokes in terms of volume (ie. accent - ff, rebound - mf, tap - pp).
Ghost, tap, grace, drag, etc... Basically, the full range/breadth of dynamics beneath rimshot, accent, and a standard stroke... but louder than silence.


Silver Member
It's all about stick heights and control. One good way to practice this is with snare drum solos (Wilcoxon, etc.). If you play them slowly (60 BPM) with wide dynamic range between accented and unaccented notes, you'll see a big improvement in ghost note control, when playing a groove. When playing a snare solo, I like to play all unaccented notes as ghost notes, as quietly as possible (very low stick height). The accents should be full 90º. One of the tricky parts about ghost notes is weaving back and forth from low stick heights too high. I've found that playing snare solos this way really loosens up my wrists, giving me the technique I need to play a variety of dynamics that require these quick physical adjustments.


Well-known member
I like Morello’s Master Studies book and played with the unaccented notes as quiet as you can make them.
Mirror, video w/review will all help the mechanicals sink in/be trained into muscle memory more quickly than without.
Sounds like good advice already in this thread too that I might try to add in to my routine.


Gold Member
I'd say do a lot of work on accent/tap exercises (4 basic stroke stuff), and finger control for playing multiple notes in a row down low. There are infinite rhythmic combos of backbeat to ghost notes (or accents to taps), but ultimately only 4 scenarios that you'll need the technique worked out to execute. Here's a video on those: (Oh, and don't let the marching drum scare you, it's all about hitting stuff with minimal human influence and maximum nature in the mechanics to get the best & most relaxed & musical sound possible.)

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It's all about how much time, work and intelligence you put into your hands. There are no shortcuts or hacks, but there is a tough row to hoe. Drumming is great not because it's easy, it's great because it's hard. Being hard weeds out the suckers, forget about easy. I feel there is a physical aspect of drumming that gets overlooked by too many early drummers. I'm mainly talking about how physically to manipulate a drumstick in the most efficient way possible, so all the things we want to play are within our hand's abilities.

My tip is...start hoeing that row. Start your lifetime journey on hand technique today. Bill Bachman, a teacher/member here, is known for teaching students great technique. Over Skype if you are too far away. If you are serious you will hit him or someone else up for technique training.

Technique training was the key that made it possibl audacity temp mail origin e for me to throw my hat in the ring and be a contender drumming-wise. I wouldn't be posting here now if it weren't for what my first 2 teachers imparted to me. It allowed me to be in the "club".
the stick to drop down (I'm sure you get that I am not saying " just let go and drop the sticks on the drum". There would be no control there.) This baseline will also be your pianissimo 'pp' (low volume) playing level. Any louder dynamic level, which includes accents, you play above the baseline level. This stick height differential will cause the volume differential.
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Alex Sanguinetti

Silver Member
Cool. You’re a jazzer. I thought maybe you’d cover something that would answer this ghost note issue.
You wanted to listen me playing and I posted a couple of videos on yor request, if you go to my site you´ll find over 10 more, and no, I¨m not interested in the discussion of ghost notes (nothing wrong with it), have you read the thread? Anyway, is perfect opportunity for you if you want to add anything about the subject.

Best regards!
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