Over-Zealous, Undisciplined Tambourine Players


I'm in 2 rock-blues-pop COVER bands..... Band 1: Singer, standing directly in front of drum kit. Loud tambourine most every song, always on snare hit, or doubling up....Band 2: Keyboard player plays tambourine on a lot of songs, inconsistent beat-dragging hits, shakes tambourine like a rattle during dynamic transitions. Very discouraging, and maybe clashing frequencies with high-hat, cymbals? For ME, it mushes out the groove and sound I'm trying to achieve.
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Gold Member
Are you playing in an 80s church band? Very common back then. And if a vocalist wasn’t doing it, some joyful nerd in the congregation was.

Talk to your mates. It’s the only way through.


I had to laugh a bit. I played with a group that wanted to do some latin stuff. The band leader handed out latin percussion toys to some band members to play. Total disaster! He picked up the latin toys and tossed them. Anyone who thinks percussion is easy should do this.
A suggestion would be to record him playing, and play back some of the worst recordings. I hope this will either discourage him, or get him to practice.

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
I really have to focus if I’m singing and playing tambourine too. It’s easy to let your tambourine hits wander a hair off the beat. It’s probably even harder for a singer who’s never played drums.

As for the keyboard player....I just don’t even know. Ask him to practice with a metronome and record himself playing along, so he can hear his mistakes.


Platinum Member
My main band has male and female singers, so one usually plays tambourine when the other sings. That’s fine until we play a song where the drums don’t play until later in the sing. For example, the piano intro for Joe Cocker’s ‘The Letter’ - tambourine belting away on 16ths, completely out of context. However, they’re in time, not that obvious to the audience, so I let it go.

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
Wait until they discover the butt tambourine.

That thread is waaaay better than this one


Platinum Member
An off-beat tambourine messes up the groove like few other things. There can be a little looseness with shakers and congas, but a mis-placed tambourine sticks out like a sore thumb.

I'm terrible at playing tambourine. Or any 'accessory percussion' instruments. A producer asked me to add a simple cabasa part to a recording once and it was humiliating how badly I played it. He was super-nice, but the bottom-line is he had to play it because I was sucking so bad at it.


Senior Member
This is one of many reasons I won't be in a band where the singer just sings and doesn't play an instrument. Verticals are bad enough, but when they have free hands to do things, they can run amok.


Senior Member
Ha!One of the ladies in the worship band used to play tambourine. Not only overly loud, out of time, and right in front of her vocal mic! I gave her a large shaker and asked her to use that. I think she got the message. Now she doesn't use either.


Platinum Member
Yep you can get that at church. Some one in the orchestra tone deaf for example. We had several sax players-one was just stellar but one tone deaf (and he insisted on playing solos-which everyone just cringed through the song and then stood up and applaud). I'm like please don't encourage him. Then for some reason some people feel like that have to be "playing something percussion" (because they think "it's easy there's no right or wrong way") so it's a often a Tamborine, or Djembe they they want to jingle and whack. Now that isn't everyone-some people read the music and play the parts, but there is always someone who with no musical talent who just has to make a show of it. The Music minister hated Tamborine so he discouraged them but we had a djembe so people would grab that. I would cringe with trepidation when a new person would grab it (there were actually two good players but they were out some). First it annoyed me (it was driving me crazy throwing me off) so I opted to blank out their playing and focus on the orchestra (which was a better option than blanking them out-cause hey I'm in church LOL).


Staff member
An off-beat tambourine messes up the groove like few other things.
Cowbell takes the top spot Larry. Our gobbist suggested using a cowbell on a track last year. I considered it for at least 0.2 of a second!