Single Stroke Roll

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
Or left, right, repeat.

Yeah.

Without asking for any specific guidance, then that's all the advice you're going to get. There are also plenty of other threads about single-stroke rolls. Try reading one of those.
 

Arky

Platinum Member
Wow, one of the most basic questions I can think of.
There's not too much to it - _basically_. It does take a long time to get a single stroke roll even though.

Here's how the single stroke roll looks/sounds like, demonstrated by an orchestral drummer and with traditional grip. Shouldn't sound any different with matched grip.

http://www.drumsolos.tv/rudiments-the-single-stroke-roll.html

Start slow, watch closely for even volume and rhythmic placement, also watch your hands - they should look the same in terms of angle, fulcrum point, stick height - just mirrored.
 
T

TwoCables

Guest
Thanks for the help. I was just wondering. I couldnt get my single stroke roll as even as possible.
Yeah, all you can do is focus on making it as perfect as possible. Naturally, some of it has to do with technique, but some of it also has to do with the way you grip your sticks and where you grip on them. If one hand is further back on the stick than the other (or if one hand is further up on the stick than the other), then your roll can easily end up being uneven. I prefer gripping high up on my sticks so that they're as easy to control as possible. They feel lighter this way and they do a lot of the work for me.

To take the grip further: if in matched grip your left and right hands aren't as matched as possible, then this can cause the roll to end up being uneven. So if you want palms down, then make sure both look perfectly even. If you want more of a cross between palms down and palms sideways, then again: make sure it's perfectly even. One of the best things for this is, play in front of a mirror and try to find ways to watch yourself from the front and from the side. Watch yourself from the front to check for the equality between your hands, and watch from the side to check heights to make sure those are as even as possible too. If both sticks are always peaking at the exact same height in your strokes, then you should be able to get perfect evenness.

Another way your roll can end up being uneven is if one stick has a different horizontal angle than the other. Geometry is very important. In matched grip, the more perfectly matched your hands and sticks are in terms of grip, placement of grip, angle of the sticks, height of the sticks, etc. etc. etc., the more even your roll can be.

Of course, the strength of your hands plays a role too. The closer they are in strength, the easier it can be to have an even roll. However, having an extremely loose and relaxed grip makes this a little less of a factor than everything else because if your grip is very loose and relaxed to the point where the sticks themselves are vibrating freely and you can hear their tone even while on your practice pad, then you should have an easier time getting even single strokes just as long as all of the above has been taken care of. One way to help achieve a relaxed grip is by keeping a gap between the thumb and your hand (or between your thumb and the side of your index finger).

Personally, I only play matched grip and I've been working very hard on my hands for the past ~15 years give or take a couple (I've been playing for about 20), and I finally made a little discovery very recently that has rocked my world: all I had to do was grip a lot higher up on the sticks and that made everything easier. This is because now the butt-end is acting as a perfect counterweight for the rest of the sticks, and there's a lot of the butt-end sticking out! I'm almost so high up that if I grip any higher up, then the butt-end is too heavy and the front end of the sticks aren't pulled back down by gravity - at least not enough to balance everything out. Another thing that I've been striving toward is getting my left hand to balance the stick on my middle finger just like my right hand does naturally. Gripping higher up has made achieving this become much easier. Now the best balance point of my sticks is balancing, or teetering on both of my middle fingers and playing has become more fun that it has ever been. All of my tools are significantly easier to use now; I'm like a little toddler clowning around with his favorite toy. This isn't to say that this is the only way I control my sticks because there's seemingly an infinite number of ways, but I generally stick to that because I want my fulcrum to be on my middle finger, not between my index and my thumb. This makes it easier to have a relaxed grip and it helps allow the stick to rebound freely so that both the stick and the drumheads get to vibrate freely.

One last thing I can say is, listen, listen, listen. I mean, tune the world out and make it so that the only thing that exists is the sound you're producing. Do an easy single stroke roll for an hour if you have to (that is, easy for you), and concentrate hard on making it as even as possible. Change it up a little during a session when you get confidence here and there, but always go back to the easy single stroke roll to check back in to see if you can still do it before you quit for the day. Practice as many different speeds as you can, and practice at all different dynamic levels (volumes) - everything from barely audible to ear-piercing! You have to teach your body how to play everything so that it's there when you need it - just like a bag of tools. Unfortunately, these tools have to be used in practice sessions regularly or else they will fade away and become harder and harder to remember how to use or even find.

Another thing that can hurt is the angle of the snare. If your snare is at a sharp angle and resulting in your sticks being very far away from the rim, then this can hurt your playing. It can also hurt the head, the sticks and even your hands and body! When playing, the sticks should be very parallel to all of the drumheads in your kit. This also helps your sticks stay put instead of sliding back or forward in your hands.

Ok, one last thing I promise: speaking of avoiding injury, don't overdo it. If you feel yourself beginning to wear out, then take a break for maybe an hour or come back to it the next day. I mean, it can be easy to overdo it if you reach a point where it becomes extremely fun and addicting to just sit there playing, especially if all you're doing are single strokes with improvisational variations - such as I think many of us do on the practice pad. I've been known to overdo it and it always ends up in me needing to take a break for a week or 2 to fully recover - sometimes 3 weeks! What sucks about that is, skipping a day usually means you end up having this feeling the next time you practice where you're spending half of the practice trying to get back to where you left off and oil everything up before you can go back to moving forward. It's a little bit like how things collect dust if we don't use them every day, or like how some mechanical things can rust up if it's not used every day. The less time spent each practice performing this kind of maintenance, the more time you can spend moving forward.

That's all I can think of right now. I hope some of this helps!
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
The single stroke roll is the hardest rudiment of all. It exposes every flaw in technique. You could literally spend 10 years on the SSR alone. So don't be surprised if takes way longer than you think. The holdup is your weak hand. That takes a LONG time to get equal to your strong hand. It took me 10 years to achieve equal. I probably could have done it in less but I don't practice religiously. I just got there this year. It's an amazing feeling, I have to say. Very satisfying. Only now do I feel I am ready to seriously tackle the SSR. I concur with everything TwoCables said.
 

iwearnohats

Silver Member
There are three things that you MUST practise every day, whether it's for 1 minute each, or 1 hour each.

Single Stroke Roll
Double Stroke Roll
Single Paradiddle

Literally every single thing you play on the kit utilises these rudiments in one way or another. They are truly the absolute foundation of drumming. You could consider flams another essential (I do).

And out of these three... Single Stroke Roll is king. If you've got good, strong single strokes, then you can compensate for weaknesses in the other two.

I wish someone had given me this advice years ago, so that's why I'm giving it to you now :p practise them every single day! Well, with good technique, anyway.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
I took lessons from a college student when I was a kid, learning the rudiments, but I found that I could do everything I heard on my records and on the radio with single strokes, so I stuck to single strokes, and that's how it's been from then on.

It really makes you work on your hands. I play matched grip and, if I say so myself, I've got really fast hands. So there's that. But I wouldn't say that it's all that difficult. Like anything else, it takes practice.

I've had more than one drummer come up and tell me "I don't see how you do that just playing singles." But I do, I do!
 
T

TwoCables

Guest
I took lessons from a college student when I was a kid, but I found that I could do everything I heard on my records and on the radio with single strokes, so I stuck to single strokes, and that's how it's been from then on.

It really makes you work on your hands. I play matched grip and, if I say so myself, I've got really fast hands. So there's that. But I wouldn't say that it's all that difficult. Like anything else, it takes practice.

I've had more than one drummer come up and tell me "I don't see how you do that just playing singles." But I do, I do!
Ah, but there's still a certain sound and a certain feel with doubles, paradiddles and other rudiments. It also makes producing certain sounds a lot easier.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
Ah, but there's still a certain sound and a certain feel with doubles, paradiddles and other rudiments. It also makes producing certain sounds a lot easier.
I agree, I agree completely. I admit it, I regret not focusing on the rudiments when I was a kid. It's just that music was everywhere back then, and I was in too much of a hurry to start playing.

Oh well.
 
T

TwoCables

Guest
I agree, I agree completely. I admit it, I regret not focusing on the rudiments when I was a kid. It's just that music was everywhere back then, and I was in too much of a hurry to start playing.

Oh well.
I'm in the same boat pretty much. I just realized my post looks like I am good at other rudiments, but the only one I can really use is the single stroke roll. I can kind of do decent doubles on my practice pad and I can kind of play some of the other rudiments, but I never spent any time working them into my playing. Although, I don't play any music right now that would need me to know anything other than singles.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
I'm in the same boat pretty much. I just realized my post looks like I am good at other rudiments, but the only one I can really use is the single stroke roll. I can kind of do decent doubles on my practice pad and I can kind of play some of the other rudiments, but I never spent any time working them into my playing. Although, I don't play any music right now that would need me to know anything other than singles.
There are a couple of rudiments that are really the only thing you can do in certain situations; variations of the paradiddle being the most obvious one. It's good to have those when you need them.

But the single stroke just came easy to me. I just started doing it. I'd hear a Ginger Baker lick, and I'd sit down and figure out how to play it. Bam! I had it. And then there was "Wipeout." Man, I nailed that the first time I heard it. Singles, that was my get-over chop, that's what got me working in the clubs when I was still just a kid.

So, work on those singles! They're fun! And girls Love 'em!
 
T

TwoCables

Guest
There are a couple of rudiments that are really the only thing you can do in certain situations; variations of the paradiddle being the most obvious one. It's good to have those when you need them.

But the single stroke just came easy to me. I just started doing it. I'd hear a Ginger Baker lick, and I'd sit down and figure out how to play it. Bam! I had it. And then there was "Wipeout." Man, I nailed that the first time I heard it. Singles, that was my get-over chop, that's what got me working in the clubs when I was still just a kid.

So, work on those singles! They're fun! And girls Love 'em!
Based on all the videos I've watched here on DW and the few videos I own, I would say that just about every rudiment can be applied in most styles of music. Some drummers can do some of the amazing things that they can do because they're utilizing lots of different rudiments.
 

Dracovyrn

Senior Member
Looking at my time in high school, It's interesting to say I had always practiced double stroke rolls and triple stroke rolls, but the single stroke roll was one of the last things I really focused on. I was never bad at them, nor was I incapable of playing them efficiently, but I just didn't have that feeling of Nirvana when playing them. After about a month of literally practicing left-hand-led single stroke rolls, I mastered them. Well, maybe not college graduate mastered, but they were where any self taught drummer would get them after two years. That, and, they were better than any of the non-band-affiliated drummers (life-long drummers, mind you) at my school.

As far as technique, TwoCables hit it fair square as far as making sure your hands are perfectly mirrored if you're using matched grip.

What I'm uncertain about is his advice for holding the stick higher. I would NOT advise choking up on the stick, although I am uncertain as to how high he means, because advise like that could come out the wrong way.

Holding your pivot point about a third from the butt-end of the stick should give the best response when doing strokes.

Heading the words of TwoCables, I just want to fill in some other details that I would recommend as a guide for practicing. Do what fits best for you. My words should be like a mother pushing you in the right direction, but your path is your own.

Some things that weren't mentioned before that I feel are important are the use of wrist/fingers, and lead hands.

At slower to moderate tempos, wrists are best for complete control and power in single strokes. The wrist motions should be something like up and out. (Away from the body. The motion is two parts, but very fluid. It should be like a curved motion.) As you get to a more moderate speed, the motion becomes smaller and is just a small up and down.

When you can onl y go so fast, that's when fingers come in. Fingers use smaller muscles! They can move faster than your wrists. Because fingers are smaller muscles, they move faster, but are not as strong. Finger rolls will be naturally weaker.

As for practice, know your limits! It's one thing to push yourself, feeling the burn is a good thing! But if ANYTHING starts to Genuinely hurt, STOP! And rest till it's better.

Practice the rolls at different speeds to a metronome if possible. When you're comfortable, play starting slow, and gradually speed up to your fastest point, and slow back down to a stop. This is a test of control, and you should fluidly transition from wrists to fingers and back to wrists, with as little sound change as humanly possible.

Last but Definitely not least! Practice more with your weak hand lead more than anything else. Start and count with a metronome with your weak hand. Your weak hand, (playing sixteenth notes to a metronome) should be on 1 and the & of 1e&a 2e&a 3e&a 4e&a 1, and repeat. Respectivly, it will look like: LRLR LRLR LRLR LRLR L. Count "One" "AND" "TWO" "AND" "THREE" etc. etc. on your weak hand. Just keep practicing this routine and you will have it down in no time!

I hope this helps! Good look in your search for perfection! :)
 

Jonny Sumo

Senior Member
There are three things that you MUST practise every day, whether it's for 1 minute each, or 1 hour each.

Single Stroke Roll
Double Stroke Roll
Single Paradiddle

Literally every single thing you play on the kit utilises these rudiments in one way or another. They are truly the absolute foundation of drumming. You could consider flams another essential (I do).

And out of these three... Single Stroke Roll is king. If you've got good, strong single strokes, then you can compensate for weaknesses in the other two.

I wish someone had given me this advice years ago, so that's why I'm giving it to you now :p practise them every single day! Well, with good technique, anyway.
And to the bat pad I go...I'm going to do this from now on, I think you have something with these being the building blocks, Thanks man..same as others on here tho; wish I'd 'practiced' rather than 'played' for so long...
 

iwearnohats

Silver Member
I am always happy to help :)

I've just recently adopted a hand routine given to me by the late Julian Percy a number of years ago before he passed away. I'll outline it here, I hope it makes sense. I'm definitely noticing a difference in the week or so I've been working on it.

Warm up:

5 Minutes Each:
- Flams: my version: 1 minute alternating flams, 1 minute flam tap, 1 minute RH lead Swiss triplet, 1 minute LH lead Swiss triplet, 1 minute alternating flams)

- 5, 7, 9 stroke rolls (ie, standard rrllR, llrrL with accented final note)

- Single strokes around kit with lead hand turnarounds: also work on crossovers, and play double bass synchronised. Not to a metronome - focus on technique, core movement (ie. use your torso to move) and relaxation

- 2, 4, 7, 8 strokes with 2 db singles: Think Mike Portnoy's 'toolbox' fills. 2 on hands, 2 on feet, etc. Play 1 minute on each type, 30 seconds leading with each hand (and foot), and final minute I play 4 on hands, 4 on feet as this is also a very useful pattern.


Modified Virgil Donati Power Drumming routine:
For those unfamiliar with this, in Virgil's Power Drumming video he had a click set up to increase by 10bpm every 8 bars, starting at 100 and finishing at 200 (from memory).
With my version (and as per what Julian was using) I have it increase by 5bpm every 4 bars, and I start at an appropriate tempo to spend approximately 1 minute on each exercise. Again, play each exercise synchronising each hand with the matching foot. This is a power, accuracy, speed, and endurance exercise. The hand is the focus here, so if your foot is lagging then stop and just focus on your hands.

1 minute per set, leading with one hand, and then another set leading with the other hand.
4 strokes per drum - single hand
2 strokes per drum - single hand
1 stroke per drum - single hand (could also do flat flams, but much harder)
4 strokes per drum - both hands
2 strokes per drum - both hands


Pyramid of Pain (4 bars single strokes, then 4 bars double strokes, played continuously, on each repeat, add one bar, so 4 of each, then 5 of each, 6, 7, etc.)
2 minutes relaxed speed (focus on sound, accuracy, stick height, relaxation)
1 minute rest
2 minutes moderate speed
1 minute rest
1 minute strain speed (you want to reach the end of the minute feeling like you just barely made it, but without excessive tension)


High speed short bursts.
4 strokes per hand, 30 seconds. Rest 30 seconds.
8 strokes per hand, 30 seconds. Rest 30 seconds
12 strokes per hand, 1 minute.


1 minute doubles - relaxed
1 minute rest
1 minute doubles - strain


1 minute Paradiddles - relaxed
1 minute rest
1 minute medium tempo
1 minute rest
1 minute strain tempo


Left hand Lead Singles:
8th notes - 16th note transitions (I play one bar of each, so 8x 8th notes and then 16x 16th notes).
This exercise is more about accuracy, stick height and consistency rather than pure speed - play it as fast as you can without throwing these attributes out the window.

2 minutes moderate tempo
2 minutes fast


Broken Singles: 3, 5, 7, 9 alternating lead hand. Played synchronous with the feet.
So, your patterns would be: RLR LRL... RLRLR LRLRL... RLRLRLR LRLRLRL... RLRLRLRLR LRLRLRLRL
As there are 4 different patterns, I spend a quarter of each allotted time segment working on each one, rather than cycling through all of them.

2 minutes moderate
30 seconds rest
1 minute fast
30 seconds rest
1 minute strain
Now, obviously you're looking at somewhere up to an hour for this regime so it may not be suitable, however I'm now in the fortunate position where I can put the time in to this one :). What I would suggest doing is copy this into an Excel spreadsheet, and use that to keep track of your tempo for each exercise. When you feel you're ready at the maximum of each exercise, bump the tempo up by 2bpm, no more, and play at that speed for at least a week before bumping it up again.

As it's nearly 1am, there might be errors, and I might have forgotten things so feel free to comment/poke fun/ask questions :p

Again, I credit this to Julian Percy, and here is a video for those who don't know of him:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sIiUs2Whz0
 

JasperGTR

Senior Member
Great advice posted.
There are three things that you MUST practise every day, whether it's for 1 minute each, or 1 hour each.

Single Stroke Roll
Double Stroke Roll
Single Paradiddle

Literally every single thing you play on the kit utilises these rudiments in one way or another. They are truly the absolute foundation of drumming. You could consider flams another essential (I do).

And out of these three... Single Stroke Roll is king. If you've got good, strong single strokes, then you can compensate for weaknesses in the other two.

I wish someone had given me this advice years ago, so that's why I'm giving it to you now :p practise them every single day! Well, with good technique, anyway.
Then I'd do the same with your feet. I wish I did this growing up. My left foot is awkward at times.

But then again, I'm still angry at the people who first taught me to drive using my right foot on the brake, instead of left-foot braking. Idiots. Same dumb ones who said 10-2.

My point? You may need to adjust what is comfortable for you to compensate for something not pointed out in this discussion. There is no wrong way (unless it doesn't work).
 
T

TwoCables

Guest
Looking at my time in high school, It's interesting to say I had always practiced double stroke rolls and triple stroke rolls, but the single stroke roll was one of the last things I really focused on. I was never bad at them, nor was I incapable of playing them efficiently, but I just didn't have that feeling of Nirvana when playing them. After about a month of literally practicing left-hand-led single stroke rolls, I mastered them. Well, maybe not college graduate mastered, but they were where any self taught drummer would get them after two years. That, and, they were better than any of the non-band-affiliated drummers (life-long drummers, mind you) at my school.

As far as technique, TwoCables hit it fair square as far as making sure your hands are perfectly mirrored if you're using matched grip.

What I'm uncertain about is his advice for holding the stick higher. I would NOT advise choking up on the stick, although I am uncertain as to how high he means, because advise like that could come out the wrong way.
If someone misinterprets my advice and chokes goes up too high on the stick, then they're going to know it. It's built-in protection against screwing up. I mean, try it for yourself: try playing with your grip way too high up. You're probably going to end up holding it a little further back. So someone who does that might say, "Oh, that's what he meant by saying that the butt-end needs to become the perfect counterweight".

Holding your pivot point about a third from the butt-end of the stick should give the best response when doing strokes.
So, yeah: that's because the butt-end is being almost a perfect counterweight. When there's a good balance between the weight of the butt-end and the weight of the tip/shoulder/shaft, I would say that controlling the stick becomes as easy as it can possibly be for whatever level you're at. It's definitely helping me, and in some very amazing ways - ways that I was beginning to think were absolutely impossible. Up until I discovered this, I was doing everything else correctly and still wondering why it wasn't working very well. lol

Heading the words of TwoCables, I just want to fill in some other details that I would recommend as a guide for practicing. Do what fits best for you. My words should be like a mother pushing you in the right direction, but your path is your own.

Some things that weren't mentioned before that I feel are important are the use of wrist/fingers, and lead hands.

At slower to moderate tempos, wrists are best for complete control and power in single strokes. The wrist motions should be something like up and out. (Away from the body. The motion is two parts, but very fluid. It should be like a curved motion.) As you get to a more moderate speed, the motion becomes smaller and is just a small up and down.

When you can onl y go so fast, that's when fingers come in. Fingers use smaller muscles! They can move faster than your wrists. Because fingers are smaller muscles, they move faster, but are not as strong. Finger rolls will be naturally weaker.

As for practice, know your limits! It's one thing to push yourself, feeling the burn is a good thing! But if ANYTHING starts to Genuinely hurt, STOP! And rest till it's better.

Practice the rolls at different speeds to a metronome if possible. When you're comfortable, play starting slow, and gradually speed up to your fastest point, and slow back down to a stop. This is a test of control, and you should fluidly transition from wrists to fingers and back to wrists, with as little sound change as humanly possible.

Last but Definitely not least! Practice more with your weak hand lead more than anything else. Start and count with a metronome with your weak hand. Your weak hand, (playing sixteenth notes to a metronome) should be on 1 and the & of 1e&a 2e&a 3e&a 4e&a 1, and repeat. Respectivly, it will look like: LRLR LRLR LRLR LRLR L. Count "One" "AND" "TWO" "AND" "THREE" etc. etc. on your weak hand. Just keep practicing this routine and you will have it down in no time!

I hope this helps! Good look in your search for perfection! :)
To add to this, I would also recommend some videos if there's enough money for them:

  • Jim Chapin's Speed, Power, Control, Endurance
  • JoJo Mayer's Secret Weapons for the Modern Drummer
  • Steve Smith's Drumset Technique / History of the U.S. Beat
  • Dave Weckl's How to Develop Technique

Not necessarily in this order. I recommend looking them all up and buying the one that seems to be right for you, or buy them all at once if you can afford it - but otherwise you'll know which one to start with. One will seem to stand out to you, you'll find yourself drawn to all of them, but one will seem to be more attractive to you than the rest for some reason. You'll know. They're all very good, so I don't want to push one on you over another.

There's one thing that I can say in defense of gripping higher up on the sticks: Mike Mangini. Seriously. Here are a few videos where you can see how far up the stick he's gripping:

Mike Mangini on Discovery's Time Warp

Mike Mangini (Steve Vai solo)

Mike Mangini - Building a Pure Dream

VIC THEATRE - MIKE MANGINI DRUM SOLO 1/2

VIC THEATRE-MIKE MANGINI DRUM SOLO 2/2

I think the first one shows it the best.

This isn't why I began gripping higher up on my sticks; that was more of an accident. Instead, it's something I suddenly began noticing once I started. I was like, "hey, wait a minute..." So now when I watch Mike play, it's less of a mystery!

The same goes for other guys like Johnny Rabb, although he doesn't always grip that high up. However, it seems to me that gripping higher up is kind of like his Home Position on the sticks.
 
Top