Soloing- the band stops

fat in the middle

Senior Member
I had a bit of a rant the other day during rehearsal. I know this has been discussed here before, but when the suggestion of a drum solo in a section of a tune comes, I cringe. The band stops, and everyone looks at me for some kind of genius chop fest or something. The band stops, and the drummer goes nuts? When the guitar solos, I don't stop [perhaps i should] so why does everyone? Great drum solos in my view are the ones where the band vamps, and the drummer stretches out. Much more musical as it has context. Has Gene and Buddy ruined it for us? Where culturally we expect the band to stop? I hate being put on the spot at a gig like that, and try to play the melody if anything on the kit, while people await for Neil Peart to enter the room. I have even stopped drumming and spouted inpromto poetry, then counted the tune in!! Anyone feel this way?


Platinum Member
Agree totally. I guess it's just tradition - the rest of the band takes the chance to relax and freshen up while the the drummer wows 'em with an acrobatics show.

A drum solo does have its own unique vibe in the same way as an acoustic guitar solo piece provides a change of pace and texture. The better the drummer, the longer the solo can be without getting boring or annoying.

In every rock band I ever played in at some point someone would suggest I play a solo. I always said no because I didn't like breaking away from the song to show off. In one band we struck a compromise where we played a progression with the boys playing the chords on the one while I played cohesive patterns that made musical sense to me. That was fun and worked out pretty well.


Founder Drummerworld
Staff member
Drumsolos: so many possibilities.....

Drummers acting visually in the background wait the whole night to get finally the solo spot.
The frontman steps beside, and the show can start.

John Bonham - Led Zeppelin: the boys of the band take a break, go backstage, take a beer. John plays his ass off, after fifteen minutes lurking around...but nobody comes back. Finally they arrive and the final climax starts.

Buddy Rich: every Big-Band member was obliged to stare at him during the solo, no chat allowed. The jaws have to be down on the floor - showing, that something exceptional is happening - goes for every member of the band - otherwise, he would have got fired immediatly....

If you feel more comfortable to have the band a vamp played during your solo: fine too, but a solo spot normally means a solo spot for the drummer. See also a bass-solo: often only accompagned only by drums..... just to make clear, what's going on...

The duration of the solo should be probably fixed before:

- just some bars - 8, 16, 32.....
- structured solo (Neil Peart) everything clear with every beat for everybody
- open solo but a structured ending/climax, so the members know, when to come in again...

Seems to be so for many decades....

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Swiss Matthias

Platinum Member
What happened to the audio of that clip?

To be honest, as great, tight, grooving and on the spot that solo is,
I think he's technically a bit limited. I'm sure his genius musical mind
would allow him to stretch out further if his body could work it out.
A drum solo for me is never pre-configured, and never long. A lot of original tunes my band does take breaks at certain points in the song at which point I'll do fills and such, and cover time on my hi-hats, so no matter what I do, they can come back in on the same time and never lose rhythm. So if it's a song with a "solo" in it, I usually have 5 - 10 seconds twice in a song (because we do mostly old school punk) to do with what I please, as long as I keep time.

I could easily do WHATEVER I wanted. But because I don't like to do the same thing every single time, I keep time, so they know when to start playing again in case I do something just totally crazy, which I've been known to do.

I'm one of few drummer who working on fills the practice before a gig, and then I'll try to do them at the gig and if I pull it off... Epic win. and If not... I wanna hide behind my kit.


Silver Member
It's all a little crazy, isn't it? When the bass takes a solo, we all quiet down so s/he can be heard. But why go quiet when the drummer goes off? It's the loudest instrument in the band! I definitely prefer some riffs underneath in rock situations. Small drum breaks 4 measures long can punch a song up a level though.

fat in the middle

Senior Member
One other thought I had was when someone yells drum solo!, I often think, I have been soloing all through the song! Zigaboo from the meters, if you isolated his track from the song he was soloing!


Platinum Member
Wait.....your band actually wants you to take a drum solo???

Anyway, as a listener, I agree. Soloing over a vamp is 1000x more interesting than just a drummer playing alone.

Unless you're Terry Bozzio, I really don't want to hear an unaccompanied drum solo anyway. I heard enough of them to last me a life time.


Platinum Member
if you don't feel like you can pull off a chops fest type of solo, you could unleash a fury of creativity instead. by that i mean you could play interesting (but not technically difficult) rhythms with widely ranging dynamics. or you could stand up and beat on the shells, stands, and rims. you could work in unconventional instruments like wood blocks and triangles. and don't forget the flaming gong!


Platinum Member
Nothing should be "written in stone" ... to the extent that ... if you don't want to take a drum solo ... don't take one.​


Platinum Member
but when the suggestion of a drum solo in a section of a tune comes, I cringe. The band stops, and everyone looks at me for some kind of genius chop fest or something.
In the fusion realm, it's most common for the band to play a vamp. In jazz, the drum solos consist of "trading" with the band. In big band, extended drum solos of indeterminate length can happen, and then drummer will count the band in after the solo. Most rock musicians just aren't aware of these customs. They only remember Bonzo's "moment".

Realistically, a typical bar crowd just wants to be able to tap their feet, nod their head, and follow the thread of rhythm through what you play. If they're dancing, tease them with rhythm, but try to keep them dancing! I agree that the extended, "meterless" arena rock drum solo (which usually includes accelerating bass drum quarter notes to engage the clap-alongs) is best left to bands with pyrotechnics in their budget, and for crowds who enjoy that sort of thing, but keeping time throughout a drum solo is indeed demanding, and well worth the effort, IMO. If playing over a steady vamp is just too much, the rest of the band could just stab a chord on the 1 of every 4 measures, so the crowd gets the idea that the pulse hasn't stopped (this is more difficult for guitarists and bassists than you might think, so go easy on 'em at first!).

Don't feel like having a very clear idea of what you're going to play is a bad thing, especially if you're new to soloing. Write it out if you can. Better to make a plan and keep a solid groove, than to lose the beat in front of a crowd! Keep adding to it and tweaking your plan, and before you know it you'll have a vocabulary for drum soloing.

It may also help to have someone announce this part of the show over the mic, before, after, or both. My guitarist friend always makes a little joke and says: "... and Brent playing lead drums on that last one".

If you're interested in learning about soloing over different types of song forms, check out The Drumset Soloist by Steve Houghton.


Senior Member
Saw a jazz show where they all turned to the drummer for a solo. At this point they had extended the song incredibly and must have played 4-6 solos a piece. He just kinda stared at them and played one note on each drum. Best thing he could have done, whole place lit up with laughter and made everyone smile.


Senior Member
Blehh...I don't really like solos all that much. I'm like Lars Ulrich: "Drums as a solo instrument just bore me. I want guitars, I want songs, I want the emotions that come with that. My electric violin ensemble teacher this past year in school made me do a drum solo for three of the schools we played at.

Long story short: they were horribly off time, made up on the spot, and (in retrospect) cluttered and lacking in creativity. They were crap.

Since then, I've grown to dislike drum solos. Not to the point where I can't stand them, but just enough that I sympathize with Stewart Copeland and other pro drummers that have a dislike for soloing - including the OP! I'm also an introverted person who hates being the center of attention, so solos are against my way of thinking to begin with.

Swiss Matthias

Platinum Member
I like drum solos. When they're musical and not only chops fests.
From a jazz perspective a drum solo isn't all that exotic, it's very
much part of that music.
From a rock perspective I suppose it should be at least very energetic.
From a pop perspective it's kind of redundant. :)
From a funk perspective 2 additional ghost notes and one tom are a solo already, haha!

fat in the middle

Senior Member
I think it all boils down to the melody for me. You can hear these New orleans guys constantly quoting the melody, or Jeff Hamilton playing the head, bending the skins even for pitch. I agree with the more abstract approach, having another meter going on while quoting the melody on odd sounding parts of the kit is what keeps the audience involved.


Platinum Member
Saw a jazz show where they all turned to the drummer for a solo. At this point they had extended the song incredibly and must have played 4-6 solos a piece. He just kinda stared at them and played one note on each drum. Best thing he could have done, whole place lit up with laughter and made everyone smile.
That's security :) Class.

Of course, there's always the option of watching Brian Blade play, which is as mesmerising as any drum so: