I'm often asked questions relating to drumming professionally, equipment set-ups, studying, my playing so I thought I would add this question and answer forum to my site.

If you would like to ask a question please send it to I will only use first names and your home city to identify the person asking questions or if you'd prefer, you can remain anonymous.

Here is a list of topics summarising the questions below. To go to the relevant question click on the topic.

(1) Getting into recording work.
(2) TV drum sounds.
(3) Working with Maria Schneider?
(4) Making stylistic changes between playing rock and jazz.
(5) Choosing Hi-Hats.
(6) Using two snare drums.
(7) David Garibaldi's Book.
(8) Opening fill on "Fried Rice" by Steve McKenna.
(9) Playing with Bob James.
(9) Single Handed 16th notes on the Hi-Hat.
(10) Glue CD release date.
(11) My approach to soloing.
(12) The groove on "Over Ear" by Glue.
(13) Drum Tuning.
(14) Versatility.
(15) Books on Beats.
(16) Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa.
(17) Buddy Rich - The greatest ever?.
(18) My influences.
(19) Reading and interpreting drum charts.
(20) Traditional versus Matched Grip.
(21) Rehearsing Australian Idol.
(22) Books to study World Rhythms.
(23) Books to study Hand/Foot Combinations.
(24) Getting into professional work.
(25) Yamaha Birch Custom versus 9000s.
(26) Grooves on Norwegian Wood
(27) Billy Hydes 2006 Festival and Mitch Farmer
(28) Upcoming DVD
(29) Eye of the Tiger
(30) Notation Software
(31) Snare and Kit recommendations
(32) Yamaha Oak Custom Drums
(33) Preferred Headphones
(34) Monitoring and Headphones
(35) Ghost Notes on The Ultimate Drummer's Weekend Video
(36) More kit recommendations
(37) Tuning and 8 inch Toms
(38) 12 inch Hi Hat recommendations
(39) The Orchestra on The Prayer
(40) Sight Reading
(41) Bass Drum power and speed
(42) Kick pedal specs
(43) Developing groove/pocket
(44) Drumming as a career
(45) Buying an entry beginner's kit/Lessons
(46) Hi Hat discrepancy
(47) Buddy Rich solos
(48) Sabian Artisan Vault Rides
(49) The Ultimate Drummer's Weekend DVD - Drum Sizes
(50) China Type Cymbal
(51) Playing a convincing shuffle
(52) The groove on Stan Walker's Big Band version of "All the Single Ladies"


Hi again Gordon.

At the moment, I'm really wanting to branch out with my playing. I'd love to get involved in the whole studio "scene", and even playing live behind solo artists. I've been playing for about 6 years now, and I've covered a fair bit of ground, but I'd really like to get into recording, doing sessions etc. I was wondering, what's the best way to go about this? Up here in Brissy, there isn't an awful lot of options.

Thanks for your time Gordon, I really appreciate it.



Hi Daniel.

There are a number of aspects I'd like to address in answering this question.

Firstly I think our main priority should be to play music as well as we can rather than thinking in terms of, getting work whether it's in the studio or live. I feel that if you have something to say musically speaking, then people will want to know about it. You can drive yourself crazy trying to second guess what people want to hear.

Having said that, if you do strive to consistently employ basic musical principles people will want to work with you.

So here are some are some basic musical principles that a studio drummer requires:

And here are some others that will broaden your work potential:
  • an ability to play different styles or genres of music
  • the ability to sight read and interpret drum charts and lead sheets.
  • a good memory
  • an easy going personality
  • patience
You refer to 'the whole studio "scene"' in your question....I feel that there is really no "central" studio scene. Sure there are players who do a lot of studio work but these days every second musician has a recording set up of some sort and so there are plenty of players around doing a bit of recording here and there. If you can pick up as much experience doing this type of work, it will ultimately lead to more prestigious recording work. But never think that you are not where "the scene" is. You make your own scene by doing what you do really well!

I guess it is true that there are probably fewer musical opportunities in Brisbane than say Sydney or Melbourne but having said that, one of the worlds biggest selling acts in recent times, (Savage Garden), came from Brisbane. So it can happen anywhere. Still it's logical to assume that your chances of getting the better gigs will be better in a larger musical centre. It's the same in the USA; many musicians gravitate to LA, Nashville or New York because that's where the work is.

Hope this helps.

Good luck, Gordo.


Hi Gordon.

Just watching the show (Australian Idol), and was wondering about your drum sounds? They seemed to be different for each tune. For the 2nd last guy, it didn't even sound like you were actually playing, and the rock sounds for Courtney were fat! Were you using triggers and stuff, or was it some clever mixing etc.? How does it normally work on a show such as this? Sorry for all the questions, but I am curious.

Anyway, was good to see the live band on the show.



G'day Jason,

Firstly I don't think there's a way that it "normally" works. That is to say that every time I've done something on TV it's different depending on the sound man, the type and size of the band and most of all, the time you have to get sounds.

On this occasion there was basically one day to pull sounds, rehearse the tunes with the singers, run for camera angles etc., do a complete dress rehearsal and then record the show. The sound guy was able to mix after the recording so any variations in sound were tweaked in then.

The simple answer is, I just set up as usual and played each song as stylistically real as I could. I mean in the AC/DC song I was playing harder which will affect the result but there were no triggers or any electronics from my position.

I actually took in about 5 or 6 snares not knowing what the tracks would be and if they wanted me to try to copy the original sounds. But I spoke to John Foreman and the sound guy and we all decided that one contemporary snare sound would be fine and he would adjust it from the control room. Also the show, although not actually live, is shot in real time so there was not much time to make any changes between songs anyway.

About three or so tunes also had percussion sequences with electronic sounding back beats such as the second last guy's song, "Maria Maria". I was playing. Listening to the mix on TV you can just hear me but the drum machine sounds are more up front as they are in Santana's original.

Anyway hope that answers the questions. Yeah it's great that they're using real players. I don't know if that's going to happen every week but if enough people let let them know that the show is much better with a real band, then maybe they'll keep it on. Thanks for watching.

Cheers, mate.



Hey Gordo,

I saw you play a few times around January; at Jazz in the Domain with Maria Schneider, and at the Basement with Ralph Pyl's band. They were both fantastic gigs, and really inspired me to get into playing big band music again. What was it like doing the concert in the Domain, the rehearsal process with Maria, etc.?

Hope you're well, see you soon,



Hi Jamie,

Playing with Maria Schneider at the Domain Jazz in the Park Concert was an incredible experience and a musical highlight that I will never forget.

The rehearsal process was pretty full on. The music wasn't so much difficult as it was intense in terms of concentration. I had to really keep my eyes on the charts, as there were so many subtle changes rhythmically and texturally. I mean if you got lost, you could really do some damage; it could be difficult to regain your place.

During rehearsals, Maria was very specific about what she wanted from me. She would describe in great detail, textural subtleties and feels which weren't necessarily on the charts or in the recordings. Her music had evolved through performance since it had been recorded and many of her suggestions reflected this evolution. Rhythmically, the music was often very different from anything I had encountered. Her use of odd time signatures was particularly natural and musical and not in any way mathematical, as is often the case. Many of the feels were unusual. I enjoyed the challenge of finding the feel she was looking for.

Hope this sheds some insight into the rehearsal process.

Thanks for asking, and I'm really glad you enjoyed the gigs.

Take it easy mate.



G'day Gordo,

Another thing I've been grappling with a bit of late is changing between playing rock and jazz. I often find myself going between the two types of gig in a couple of days, or even the one day, and sometimes it is successful, and sometimes it's not. I'm sure you've experienced the going back and forth thing-- any pearls of wisdom? (Oh that's right, you play yamaha... haha not funny)


G'day Jamie,

Just doing it is, I guess, the best thing.

You have to change both your technique, (approach to time, touch and feel) as well as your headspace....this can be the toughest part particularly if you're moving from improvised music to "through composed" music or music that's less interactive.

I find that I can make the transition quicker by approaching the music I'm playing by kind of imitating someone who plays that style well....Just as I'll use the appropriate cymbals, sticks and drums to play, for example, a modern jazz gig, I'll also try to address the drums like a modern jazz player. It's not just copping what they play but how they play it! So if I sit like Jack De Johnette, and strike the drums and cymbals like Jack, I'm on my way to sounding like a modern jazz drummer. I'm not saying to copy their exact approach, licks or style, but by addressing the drums in a similar way you can get in the ball park quicker. That way you don't have to reinvent the wheel every time you play a different style of music.

The best practice for adapting your touch is doing it all the time. That is going from a rock gig to a jazz gig and making it happen. You can emulate that in practise but it's not like the real thing. Maybe get into each mode by listening to that style as you're on your way to the gig. It can be tough.

I'll never forget hearing Vinnie Colaiuta having and acoustic jazz jam in the middle of a tour with Sting. He made it sound like acoustic Jazz is all he ever plays! Awesome!!!!!

Let me know how you get on.

Cheers, Gordo.


Dear Gordon,

My name's Liam, I'm a 17 year old drummer from Melbourne and attended The Ultimate Drummer's Weekend last June. I recently bought the DVD for it and have watched your performance with Sunil De Silva hundreds of times and I was wondering which hi-hats you used for this specific performance? I need to update my current hats and the ones you used then sound perfect for the style that I play!

Thanks for your time!



Hi Liam,

I'm glad you like the DVD. I've not yet seen it!

The Hi Hats I used on The Ultimate Drummer's Weekend, which I use for 95% of the gigs and recordings that I do, were a pair of 13 ", SABIAN AAX STAGE Hats. They're really great for lots of different music as they have a great tone, can cut through but they have a real warmth too. Hope this helps.

All the best in your drumming.

Cheers, Gordo.


Hello Gordon,

I bought a second snare drum stand a while back, and have been mucking around with the two snare drum thing lately. I haven't been game to do a gig with two yet, and thought I'd ask if you have any pearls of wisdom about them... for instance, when to use what, and even tuning advice. I suspect that a lot of it is just about experimenting to see what works, but if you have anything to say on it then I'd be interested to know!


Hi mate,

It depends what you're going for. I tend to use my 12 inch snare as a totally different sounding back beat. I usually crank it a bit and have that real biting snap, or it's good for emulating hip hop loopy type feels.

You should probably aim to tune them differently as otherwise it defeats the purpose. It's really about getting a different back beat vibe for me. Sometimes you can emulate big production sounds by for instance playing one snare in a verse and kicking into the chorus with a deeper fatter snare. You're though; it take experimenting to discover

All the best, Gordo.


Hi Gordo

You will laugh when you read this but I have been playing drums just for fun for about 6 years and I only realised a few months ago that in order to keep your drums sounding like new you have to change the skins! I have just recently bought new skins for my drums but I don't know how to tune them right to make them sound decent! If you could could offer any tips or advice it would be greatly appreciated!

Cheers Liam


G'day Liam,

With drum tuning there are many approaches. Here is a basic overview of what I do, but it's only one way;

First you have to choose the heads according to your taste and the style of music you're going to be playing. For my main All Around (pop/rock/fusion) Kit I'm currently using clear Emperors on the top (batter side) of the Toms and Ambassadors on the bottom. This Kit is mainly used in situations where there's a PA or it's to be recorded using close microphones. The head choice and tuning reflects this. I generally use coated Ambassadors on my Jazz Kit and coated Emperors on my Big Band Kit. For all my Snares I use coated Emperors and most of my Bass Drums usually have clear Emperors.

By the way, I generally play smaller drums for the following reasons;

* They're punchy sounding

* I can tune them lower so they sound great and they still have a nice tension to play on

* I can mount them pretty close to me


Firstly take both old heads off and put the new bottom head on the drum. I go around the drum tightening opposite lugs rather than simply clockwise or anticlockwise as this will keep the tension on the head even. Take the head and crank it way past the point that you want it. This will stretch the head out and seat it against the bearing edge. On new heads you will hear the glue snap and crack a little bit. Now, apply pressure (with your hand) to the centre of the head and all around the edges. You'll hear it crack again and the pitch will drop. This is to stretch the head out. Tune it up again and repeat the process a couple of times. Repeat the process for the top head. This is to stretch both heads before you find the right pitch. Simon Phillips actually stands and bounces up and down on his Bass Drums to stretch the heads.

Back to the bottom head, loosen the lugs so that there's almost no tension. Tune them up by tightening appeasing lugs to a nice medium tension and lightly tap next to each lug with your drum key. Go around the drum and listen to the pitches. You want each lug to produce the same pitch. Once they're close, hit the drum and listen to the overall pitch. You want it to be even; if it bends the tension isn't right and you need to check the lugs again. Bring the drum to the pitch where it sustains naturally and doesn't sound choked. Every drum has a pitch range where it "sings" and I have to say that I am able to find that spot most easily with Yamaha drums!

Repeat the process on the top head. You'll have to experiment a bit but you will gradually find what you like and what makes the drum sound best. If you want to change the pitch, adjust the bottom head. For more attack, adjust the top head. Play with it until you like it.

For my All Around Kit I personally like a little curve or drop in the pitch (a bit like the 80s electric drum sounds). To achieve this, once the drum is evenly in tune, you can just drop the tension one key turn on one or two lugs, depending on the size of the drum. This should give you that nice drop off in pitch.

The Jazz Toms tend to have a higher pitch with no drop off, and subsequently a somewhat harder tension on the playing surface. This will affect the technique you use to strike the drum.


Bass drum tuning will again vary depending on what style of music you're playing and the sound you want. Basically I use two different types of tuning. The All Around Kit has the batter head a bit tighter than the front head. I have a some muffling, like a small cushion inside the kick and a hole on the front head, (not in the centre) for a microphone. For this type of Kit I've usually gone for a punchy thud rather than a note although I'm gradually leaning towards more of a note these days. I'll tend to play heal up on this drum and bury the beater into the head to get a fatter dryer sound.

For Jazz or some acoustic music, I'll tend to crank the Bass drum a bit more, have nothing inside it, and no hole on the front head. This gives a definite note and so to play it I'll use a heal down technique so I can take the beater off the head after each stroke and let the drum speak.


I like to hear a nice crack.

Tune it to a medium pitch using the same method described above for tuning Toms. If you want a nice crack, crank up the top head. The tighter the head, the more crack you're going to get. Try to keep the top and bottom heads close to each other in pitch.

For a deeper 70s/80s fat back beat, you need to bring the top head down a bit. Again experiment to hear what works for each situation you're playing.

For more information check out Dave Weckl's "How to Develop Your Own Sound" video which is one from his recent 3 video series, "A Natural Evolution". In it Dave demonstrates tuning techniques, microphone selection and placement, and drum mixing to get the best sound (frequencies, equalisation, phase cancellation, noise gates, etc.). It's produced by Carl Fischer and available at most drum stores.

Hope this helps.

Good luck.

Cheers Gordo


Hi Gordo

Your clinic was great mate the students that saw you are all practising twice as much (me too) in fact I just went out and bought myself a DTXpress 2 so I can do some wood shedding. Could you let me know the name of the David Garibaldi book you recommended. Thanks mate

Love to all.

Mal Morgan


Hi Mal,

Thanks for coming to the clinic and encouraging so many of your students to attend too!

The David Garibaldi book is called "Future Sounds" published by Alfred.

Here is the publicity rave that goes with the book:

Future Sounds

by David Garibaldi

At long last, the secrets of David Garibaldi's ground breaking funk/jazz fusion drumming techniques are presented in this innovative book & CD. Whether you play rock, heavy metal, jazz or funk, you'll learn how to incorporate Garibaldi's contemporary "linear" styles and musical concepts into your playing as you develop your own unique drum set vocabulary.

I found the book to be firstly an invaluable source of very funky, very hip linear groove ideas as well as the definitive study in control of internal funk dynamics - by following the exercises in the book you will attain a much better control of accents and ghost strokes around the whole kit. It's a very methodical, concise and clear format. I highly recommend it.

Best regards to you, your family and all of your students.

Cheers, Gordo.


Hi Gordo,

I've enjoyed your playing over the years. One question that I've always wanted to ask is about the fill you play leading into the song "Fried Rice" on Steve McKenna's CD?

Yours sincerely



Hi Paul,

I'm glad you've enjoyed my playing.

That fill you're asking about is a kind of Flam thing! It's probably best explained by writing it out. One thing I should point out is that the grace notes in all the flams are accented as much as the main note. You can also experiment with "widening" the distance between the grace note and the main note of any flams. Tony Williams was the master of this!!!!

Click the Quicktime bar below to hear the fill in tempo and then slowed down.

Hope this clears up any mystery.

Cheers, Gordo.


G'day Gordon,

We met at the Basement when you were playing with Bob James a couple of years back. (Awesome gig by the way!). I wanted to ask how was it playing with Bob? Also how do you get your 16th notes on the hi-hat so strong with your right hand.

Thanks in advance, Robert.


G'day Robert, Thanks for appreciating the gig! It was an absolute thrill playing with Bob James. He was so cool and straight ahead to deal with. It was a real blast. He would give us plenty of room to interpret the music but it still managed to maintain his identity.

I asked him what he looked for in a drummer and he replied that "he needs a drummer who will set up the groove so I can just play". I think he was saying that if the drummer sets the pulse, subdivision, energy and forward motion of the feel, that allows him to play freely over the top. It was a real education for me.

Thanks again. I'm really pleased you enjoyed the gig. And thanks for writing to say so!

As far as the right handed 16th HI-Hat thing goes, I guess it just comes from repetition. More so on gigs than in the practise room. On a gig with a loud band you're forced to play with more intensity than you would when practising at home. There is no substitute for doing live gigs. Having said that you can achieve a lot buy preparing at home. My advice would be to play along with recordings of some of the great LA studio guys such as Jeff Porcaro and John Robinson and try to copy their feels. You need to develop strength and endurance through repetition. The speed will also come over time but strive for a smooth musical groove and it will all fall into place.

Cheers, Gordo.



When is the Glue CD going to be released?

Ben Kingsley (not the actor).


G'day Ben,

Here is an excerpt from the News page as reported in September 2004: is my very sad duty to have to announce that there will no longer be a Glue CD. Unfortunately due to irreconcilable differences, we won't be releasing the album. I won't go into details as to why but for me, it's been a real shame as we've never released anything over the 8 year history of the band and I know there are so many people who were looking forward to hearing the music documented. So I have to say I'm very, very sorry to those of you who came and saw the band and enthusiastically anticipated our debut release. I did EVERYTHING I could to salvage the situation but was unable to get any joy. Peter Northcote has left the band and Bill, Victor and I are discussing its future......

Once again I'm really sorry to people like you Ben who had a genuine interest in our music and supported the band over the years. I hope to have a new project up and running soon.

Cheers, Gordo.



Just wondering how you master your drum solos? Do you use a lot of linear groupings etc.? What rudiments do you most often use and incorporate around the kit? What are your solos generally made up of?

Thank you for your time.



Hi Ben,

I really had to think about the best way to answer your question, it being such a vast topic to cover.

I'll begin by discussing a general approach to soloing and then try to address the specific issues you raise.

Firstly I feel that there are different types of solos or ways we can approach playing solos.

Perhaps the most obvious is the completely open drum solo. This can be in and out of a tempo, change tempos or whatever. It may start from nothing, (a completely blank canvas), or it may be in the middle of a song, but I'm referring to the type of solo that is very free and that you can take where ever you wish. Buddy Rich was a master of this type of solo.

Then there is form soloing such as that commonly found in jazz music. In this type of soloing you have a responsibility to keep the form of the tune which on the one hand can restrict what you play but on the other provides a "story outline" for you to colour as you wish. The tradition of trading 4 or 8 bars etc. with other instruments falls into this category as you have to follow the form of the song. Check out Philly Joe Jones trading with Art Pepper on "Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section".

Another type of drum solo is improvising within a set of rhythmic figures where it's nice to set up the hits and catch the phrases of the other instruments. Dave Weckl is incredible at playing this way. Any of the albums he did with Michel Camilo will have great examples of this type of soloing.

And there's soloing over a vamp or phrase in the band. This is, for me, my favourite way to solo. One amazing example that comes to mind is Trilok Gurtu's extended solo on John McLaughlin's trio CD, "Live at Royal Festival Hall".

So that's a very brief over view of a few varieties of drum solo. Each requires a slightly different approach but I feel the fundamental concepts of creating interest and drama through dynamic shape, rhythmic twists, phrasing, colours and contrast apply to all types.

There are, of course, no black and white rules but the following is a few options to think about when soloing.

With any of the solo types mentioned above, I strive to tell a story. It's a bit of a cliché but it should have a beginning a middle, a climax and an ending.

The beginning can be establishing a motif or phrase. This can generally be pretty sparse where the emphasis is on colour and textures. As each section develops, the obvious way (but not necessarily the only way) to introduce more intensity is through density and dynamics. Try to incorporate dynamic extremes to create drama.

I think everyone to some extent plays licks or patterns; this is part of your signature and whether we admit it or not I believe our hands and feet can falls into playing these patterns. One way to create variety is to orchestrate in different ways around the drum kit. By doing this with a simple sticking you can come up with an endless variety of sounds and colours.

Some times we develop the killer lick or pattern which I have in the past referred to as "chunky chops"; those little gems that we love to play simply because they're impressive. And that's totally fine. The creativity is really in the way we join our favourite licks, patterns and phrases together. I find that if I let the music dictate the shape of my solo, I generally come up with a much better result than rolling out all my favourite chops. It will always sound more fluent and musical rather than a bunch of exercises strung together.

So to address each of the issues you raise directly;

Just wondering how you master your drum solos?

Well I'm not sure that I really have mastered a solo but my approach is to develop the techniques, including stickings, hand/foot combinations, fluidity around the drums and co-ordination to the point that I can draw from that facility to "paint" a musical picture or tell an interesting/exciting or colourful story, inspired by the music around me.

What rudiments do you most often use and incorporate around the kit?

In analysing my playing there are a few patterns that I often find that I repeat. Remembering that rudiments really means basics, these patterns aren't necessarily drawn directly from the 26 Standard American Rudiments but they are generally stickings, and or hand/foot combinations that I can move around the drums freely. There is a method to attain such hand/foot combinations on the lessons page of this site.

Do you use a lot of linear groupings etc.?

If by Linear Grouping you mean hand/foot combinations, then yes I do. I feel that incorporating the feet and hands creates a hipper more contemporary sound than say just fast hand stuff.

Here is an example of a hand foot pattern that I use (all the time!!!!)

What are your solos generally made up of?

This is hard to answer in any direct way. It depends on the type of solo and what I'm going for. Once again a combination of improvisation inspired by my musical surroundings, sticking and hand foot patterns, plus some of those "Chunky Chops".

Here is a typical "Chunky Chop" lick that I'll often play to climax a solo. I think I ripped this off Buddy Rich.

Hope this goes some way to answering your questions.

Cheers Gordo.


G'day Gordo,

We met recently at your gig with Glue at the Soap box in Newcastle. Thanks for a great show! I was wondering if you could write out or at least explain the pattern you're playing on the tune "Over Ear". It locks in so well with the bass part and it's so funky!!!

Thanks in advance. Walt.


G'day Walt,

I do you remember from the night. Thanks for coming out and I'm glad you enjoyed the music. I seem to recall you asking about the pattern after the gig too. Hopefully I can clear up any mystery.

It's essentially a David Garibaldi inspired Funk groove.

The groove is all in 4/4 but the back-beats fall on "2" and the last sixteenth of "3" as written below. Also the first Bass Drum Beat is anticipating "1" by 1 sixteenth note which can make the down beat hard to pick. Here's the groove written out. If you click on the Quicktime bar the groove should play.


Hi Gordon,

Do you familiarise yourself with all types of music? How many basic beats have you memorised? I guess each type of music has its own basic beat. e.g. rock beat, shuffle, jazz etc. How many of these basic beats should a drummer memorise?

Cheerz. Ben


G'day Ben, thanks for another interesting question.

I do try to familiarise myself with lots of different types of music. There is a lot to be learned from studying different styles and if you approach it honestly and with an open mind, your playing will develop in a very broad way.

When you ask specific questions like "How many of these basic beats should a drummer memorise?", your use of the word "should", implies a certain external demand such as a professional requirement. At this stage in my development, I do study various styles more for my own interest than any kind of professional need. What I'm saying is that when I was younger, I felt that it was not only fun and interesting, but that it would serve me well in terms of my potential employability, to be able to play a variety of styles convincingly. But the benefits of studying lots of styles are the incredible breadth and depth that doing so will help develop in your playing and the joy, thrill and satisfaction that you'll derive from utilising these other styles in a musical situation. I mean playing in a Rock concert in front of 20,000 screaming fans is a different high from playing in front of a small, intimate and appreciative audience in a Jazz trio. Both are great experiences so if you can do both, why not?

Another point to consider is that it was once a requirement of a session drummer to be something of an all-rounder; that he or she should be able to walk into any situation and play the required style authentically. These days I think that this is less and less the case. If a producer wants a country feel, they'll most likely hire a specialist country drummer. Likewise a funk feel or a Latin feel or whatever. There are that many good specialists around that the recording will be better served by someone who plays that particular way all the time. Having said that I recently finished a run recording the music for Australian Idol where there were many different styles to cover, from Big Band Swing to Funk, Rock and Rap. So occasionally there is a need to play a variety of styles but the recording of CDs is different in as much as they might employ a different band for each track determined by the style of the song! So again, the study of different styles for me, is more about growing musically than it is about professional qualifications.

I agree to a certain extent that "each type of music has its own basic beat however I feel that a thorough study of styles goes beyond "what" you play and is more about "how" you play it. Unlike Rock, Pop and Funk music, where the drummer is most often required to lay down a specific "beat", other (often more improvisational) styles such as Jazz and Afro-Cuban music, require a less defined, less repetitive, more open feel. That is to say that, sure, you can write out a bar of Jazz time including left hand comping, but a Jazz drummer is unlikely to play that for two measures in a row. Where as a Rock beat can be a very locked in, specific part orchestrated with the bass part, and is often repeated for a whole verse or chorus. Therefore, I would recommend that you not only study the basic beats of each type of music, but the way it should feel; don't just learn a pattern from a book - you must play along with recordings of the best examples of each style. That's how you will pick up a more genuine feel for the music. Think in terms of "feels" rather than "beats". The question you should ask yourself is, "does this feel like a Jazz Rhythm?", don't ask, "is this a Jazz Beat?".

A shuffle can be played with a Jazz interpretation, a Rock interpretation, a Blues interpretation etc...even within the Blues it can be a Kansas Shuffle, a Texas Shuffle, a Chicago Shuffle a Gospel shuffle etc. I don't mean to be going on but styles can be hard to define sometimes. You might be better off developing the Ben Shuffle! So when you ask "how many basic beats have you memorised?", I honestly can't say in such specific terms. You will find however that the more your stylistic knowledge develops, the more you can tailor your playing to each individual situation.

It's up to you just how authentic you want to be. David Jones used to say that it was enough to capture the spirit of a style. For others, they begin by trying to broaden their stylistic knowledge and become enthralled with the subtle authenticities of a particular genre and end up playing that style forever more. It's really up to you and that's what makes us all different and therefore interesting!

I'm sorry my answer is a bit long winded and complicated however I hope it helps you along the way. Good luck and enjoy the journey!

Cheers Gordo.


Hi Gordon,

Thank you for your email. In relation to the different types of beats e.g. kansas shuffle, Chicago shuffle, Memphis...etc etc...what is a good book that I can purchase that contains these kinds of beats and many other essential ones that I must familiarise myself with....??

Thanks Again. Ben.


G'day Ben,

To my knowledge there is no ONE book that manages to cover every single beat that we need to study and indeed such a book would have to be very large. However there are many great books that cover certain areas.

For studies in Funk and R&B for example, there are a number of good books including: The Funkmasters - The Great James Brown Rhythm Sections (By Allan "Dr Licks" Slutsky and Chuck Silverman"), The Commandments of R&B Drumming (By Zoro), Future Sounds (By David Garibaldi).

Three fantastic Afro-Cuban books to study are, Afro-Cuban Rhythms for Bass and Drums (By Franke Malabe and Bob Weiner), Funkifying the Clave (by Robbie Ameen and Lincoln Goines) and Afro-Cuban Co-ordination for Drum set by Maria Martinez.

For jazz you should check out John Riley's books, The Art of Bop Drumming and Beyond Bop Drumming, as well as John Ramsey's book of Alan Dawson's material, the Drummer's Complete Vocabulary. there are many more. One that i like is by Jack De Johnette and Charlie Perry called The Art of Modern Jazz Drumming.

Once again I'd like to say that whilst all of these books can shed a lot of light on the styles and can point you in the right direction, you only get a real appreciation and understanding of the music by listening to it. And indeed most of these books have a "suggested listening" section and/or a CD with examples so in that sense they're fantastic. But at some stage you have to chase up the best examples of the music and cop the feels by playing along!

As for those specific shuffles, the best way to learn the subtle nuances is to play with real blues players. Again, a lot of the differences between the styles are in the way they feel when played as when they're often written, they look exactly the same.

Hope this helps.

Have a great Christmas and all the best for the New Year.

Cheers Gordo


Hi Gordon,

Do you know of any videos/books which reveal the secrets of Buddy Rich or Gene Krupa? Are both Buddy and Gene 2 of your favourites of all time?

Thanks. Ben.


Hi Ben,

I am a huge fan of both Buddy and Gene....particularly Buddy. I really don't think his "complete" approach has ever been (or will ever be) matched. Music has changed as has equipment and "entertainment values"; There are others who are equally great but in very different ways. And that is the trick - to find something unique and be as good at that as Buddy and Gene were at their thing. Having said that, there's an endless amount to be learnt from studying the approach to the drums of these two masters.

Here is a list of DVDs/Videos and books. If you're wanting to get "the secrets" of Buddy and Gene, any of the Buddy Documentaries are great as are the concerts. I highly recommend the first three Buddy Books in the list too. For Gene, "Jazz Legend - Gene Krupa" is probably the best video as is the corresponding book.

It's great to read the Biographies too. They gives you a fuller picture of the life and times of these guys and demonstrate how they came to play the way they did! Good luck.

Buddy Rich DVDs


  • Buddy Rich Jazz Legend Part 1
  • Buddy Rich Jazz Legend Part 2


  • Buddy Rich At the Top
  • Buddy Rich Live in Montreal
  • Buddy Rich: The Lost West Side Story Tapes
  • The Channel One Suite

    Buddy Rich Books


  • Buddy Rich: Jazz Legend 1917-1987: Transcriptions and Analysis of the World's Greatest Drummer by Warner Bros. Publications
  • Buddy Rich Today by Bobby Paul
  • Inside Buddy Rich by Jim Nesbitt
  • Buddy Rich's Modern Interpretation of Snare Drum Rudiments


  • The Torment of Buddy Rich : A Biography by John Minahan
  • Traps - The Drum Wonder : The Life of Buddy Rich by Mel Torme
  • Mister, I Am the Band: Buddy Rich - His Life and Travels by D Meriwether
  • Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa : a film-discography by Klaus Stratemann

    Gene Krupa DVDs


  • Jazz Legend - Gene Krupa
  • Gene Krupa Swing, Swing, Swing
  • Classic Jazz Drummers: Swing and Beyond
  • Classic Drum Solos and Drum Battles
  • Classic Drum Solos & Drum Battles Volume 2

    Gene Krupa Books


  • Gene Krupa Drum Method by Warner Bros. Publications


  • World of Gene Krupa: That Legendary Drummin' Man by Bruce H. Klauber
  • Gene Krupa: His Life and Times by Bruce Crowther, Bruce Crowther

    All the best in your search.

    Cheers Gordo


    Hi Gordon,

    I'm just wondering if you believe that Buddy was the greatest drummer of all time? I've recently checked out some footage of Lionel Hampton and Max Roach. Personally I think that these guys were up there with Buddy....they too could do such amazing stuff. What is your opinion? Do any other drummers at all match up with Buddy? Do you believe that the true greats such as Buddy existed only in early times?

    Thanks mate. Ben.


    The question of "the greatest" is always difficult to answer. I would argue that the greatest is different for each person. It depends what's important to you. You often hear people claim that others are the greatest such as for instance, John I don't think he'd have driven a big Band quite as well as Buddy, but then Buddy certainly wouldn't have made Led Zeppelin what it was. It's really comparing apples and oranges. The same can be said for Lionel Hampton and Max Roach. Max in particular was extremely innovative in the early years of Be Bop and used a very melodic approach when he soloed. It was different from Buddy. There is a CD around called "Rich Versus Roach" - check that out.

    Yes it's true that Buddy seemed to do things better than anybody and still to this day, I'm not sure if his incredible natural facility has been matched. Buddy was using sticking combinations and rhythms that are complex and brilliant by today's standards. Perhaps Vinnie Colaiuta and Dave Weckl have that kind of facility. Those guys are true modern day greats who I believe will stand the test of time.

    Buddy also possessed, (as do, I believe all the great drummers), an awesome deep groove! If you took away the technical stuff, the sheer speed and the brilliant soloing ability, he'd still have this amazing deep swinging feel! Just check out how Buddy would set up the band on only the Hi just feels so good!

    So I guess the more I think about this I'm really asking another I need to have a "greatest". There are many great drummers who bring something individual to the music. And that's all we can strive to do. I think there are always going to be greats. Steve Gadd is great! He doesn't play as fast as Buddy but he brings another thing to the music. It's a truly deep musical statement - which is why everyone wants him to play their music!

    Having said all that, I reckon it would be really hard to sit in the same room with Buddy Rich, watch and hear him play and not be profoundly moved by the experience!

    Cheers Gordo.


    Hey Gordo,

    James here. Just wondering when you were just learning the drums who did you listen to and who do you listen to now?

    James :)


    Hi James,

    Firstly let me apologise for such a late response to your question. I have been pretty busy with both work and getting used to life with our new baby daughter......not getting a whole lot of sleep I'm afraid. So I'm sorry for being so late.

    When I first started I listened to every drummer I could. When I was first learning, that is within the first few months, I used to play on a chair in my bedroom along with 45s on a tiny portable record player I bought from my neighbour. It could play LPs but I didn't realise that at first as it had a lid that you had to remove completely to fit a full 12 inch disc on the turntable. I had the lid leaning against the wall at 90 degrees to the player and could only fit singles on it. (This is leading somewhere). I was fortunate to have an older sister who loved music and had all the hip singles of the late 70s so as well as my mother's ABBA records, I'd play along to my sister's singles. One such single was Boz Scagg's Lido Shuffle with none other than studio legend Jeff Porcaro playing one of the meanest rock shuffles ever recorded. I had not yet covered shuffles in my lessons although I had played a straight 8th rock beat. So with Boz Scaggs blasting out of the tiny speakers I was inadvertently learning to play a shuffle by copying the world's shuffle king himself - on my chair! So without knowing it, Jeff Porcaro was a profound early influence.

    As my tastes developed I began to appreciate specific guys. John Bonham of Led Zeppelin was the first to really capture my imagination and heart. He was more than just a heavy hitter with deep funk, jazz and blues influences. I really appreciated his technique at the time but was also absorbing his groove. After Bonham via another serendipitous occurrence; I first heard Simon Phillips whose playing I immediately fell in love with. It happened one night when I was watching a concert on TV called "The Concert for Arms". You can get it on video if you're willing to search. Anyway, the concert featured each of the legendary guitarists who had played with The Yardbirds - Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. Well being the huge Led Zeppelin fan that I was, as a consequence of my love for John Bonham's playing, I watched the show in order to hear Jimmy Page. Charlie Watts (from The Rolling Stones) and Kenny Jones (from The Who and The Small Faces) were playing in the house band and then Jeff Beck came on with his own band. He began with a tune called "The Pump" off the album "There and Back". Well man! The drummer was this young guy with a huge double bass drum Tama Artstar who played the fattest simplest, dirtiest groove I'd ever heard. And that was how I got into Simon Phillips! For the next few years I pursued any records I could find with Simon playing drums. I still love his playing - so much energy!

    Then I briefly got into Steve Gadd, but I have to say I didn't really appreciate how deep he was back then. Also during my last years at High School a young drummer by the name of Dave Weckl came to world drumming attention with the release of the first Chick Corea Electrik Band album. I was lucky again to hear that record when it first hit as one of my school teachers was an audiophile and had one of the first CD players Sony ever produced. He collected early CDs and Chicks label, GRP was amongst the first to embrace the new technology. He also had some 80s Billy Cobham stuff which I loved too.

    Whilst at school, I used to sneak into my "local" pub on a Thursday night where (by yet another fortune of circumstances), Mark Meyer used to play with legendary Sydney R&B band Chasin' the Train. Mark has a unique way of playing the things that everyone else plays but they just sound better when he does it. A true stylist! I loved to hear John Watson too around this time.

    And then probably the guy who had the most profound influence on me was Australia's own David Jones. I used to go and see David play whenever he did a gig. In fact he would get me to lug his drums for him and I got to watch him play! It was such a privilege to see him up close. I learnt so much from David I couldn't begin to start. But I think perhaps the greatest thing I got from him was the sense that ANYTHING was possible on the drums! From there I started studying at the Sydney Con with David. At the Con I really delved into jazz. Some of my main jazz influences include Elvin Jones, Jimmy Cobb, Buddy Rich, Jeff Watts and Al Foster.

    Also at the Con I met and studied with Andrew Gander who I still believe is one of the greatest, most individual drummers in the world. He was a wonderful inspiration who really opened my eyes and sent me in different directions. Andrew has an innate ability on the drums and the most beautiful touch and time. I can't say enough about Andy's influence. He had a profound effect on me. From Andrew's influence I got very deeply into Tony Williams over the next few years. Tony has an incredible refreshing way of getting around the drums which is ironic as he is so often copied.

    Also at this time I got deeper into Dave Weckl, Vinnie Colaiuta and again Steve Gadd. Another of my favourite drummers from the mid 80s, when I first heard him was Little Feat's Richie Hayward. He has an awesome groove and plays the simplest, hip things - a bit like Mark Meyer.

    These days I listen to anybody who plays well. I do have a really soft spot for Steve Gadd. He has the most profound musical, sensitive approach with the fattest, dirtiest pocket, always playing for the music. I LOVE GADD!

    Over the years I've been influenced by many, many players from whom I have stolen licks, picked up ideas, tried to absorb their groove and just plain copied. Below is a list that I can think of at this moment but there are many more from whom I've been inspired in the smallest way.

  • Jeff Porcaro
  • Keith Moon
  • John Bonham
  • Simon Phillips
  • Mark Meyer
  • Buddy Rich
  • Steve Gadd
  • Dave Weckl
  • Vinnie Colaiuta
  • David Jones
  • Andrew Gander
  • Tony Williams
  • Al Foster
  • Richie Hayward
  • Jeff "Tain" Watts
  • Phil Collins
  • Mick Fleetwood
  • Peter Erskine
  • Mickey Curry
  • Trilok Gurtu
  • Carlos Vega
  • Steve Jordin
  • Jimmy Cobb
  • Billy Cobham
  • David Garibaldi

    Thank you for the opportunity to reminisce a bit.

    I do hope this helps and sorry once again for the slow reply.

    Cheers Gordo


    Hi Gordon,

    I have Dave Weckl's Contemporary Drummer + One package and I'm wondering how I write out a drum part, or how I transfer what is written on the sheet music to be played on drums? For example I'm working on 'Garden Wall'. When I look at the sheet music the notation is specific to the saxophone or bass guitar with no drum part. How do I transfer this saxophone/bass reading to drums? How do I specifically write the drum part out?

    Thank you for your time. Ben.


    G'day again Ben,

    Once again sorry for my late reply. You know all my excuses now!

    Believe it or not the sheet music you have for "Garden Wall" is perhaps not a typical drum part but a very common way of writing specifically for drums. You may be confusing a drum chart with a drum transcription. A drum chart should be a concise way of expressing just enough information to the player so that they can get a reasonable chance of playing the music well. A transcription however, is a note for note representation of what was actually played on a recording. This would be too difficult for most drummers to sight read and therefore would not be a successful way of communicating the important information. The drum chart generally only needs to:

    (a) show a "road map" of the music, (intro, verse, chorus, bridge, solos etc.)

    (b) communicate the basic feel (this can be done in a number of ways including actual notation of a beat, or expressing the feel in words e.g. BRIGHT SWING FEEL etc.)

    (c) show any hits, figures or stops that the ensemble will play and that the drums may need to set-up


    (d) show dynamics or the general shape of the piece of music.

    The way I approach reading is to treat the chart as a guide to be interpreted by the drummer reading it.

    Reading Drum charts is a combination of skills employed in other types of reading. These are:

    1) Single line rhythms.

  • Reading single line rhythms such as those found in "Syncopation" by Ted Reed or "Reading Text in 4/4" by Louise Bellson and Gill Brienes.

    2) Single line rhythms with embellishments

  • Reading snare drum parts with rudimental embellishments such as the pieces found in "150 all American Snare Drum Solos" by Charlie Wilcoxon or "The N.A.R.D. Book".

    3) Multiple line rhythms and grooves.

  • Reading groove and co-ordination exercises such as those found in the many current drum kit publications from Manhattan Music etc.

    As I said above these skills combine to allow us to

    4) Read Drum Parts (and interpret Lead Sheets)

  • Reading real drum charts such as those common in Big Band or on professional shows. This type of reading utilises the skills in each of the previous three categories. Also fundamental to reading drum charts is the ability to interpret musically.

  • Lead Sheets are often the way of communicating music in small jazz ensembles. They usually contain an overview of the piece of music with the form (ie. AABA) including the number of bars, the chords, the melody and sometimes a guide to the feel (often just a description in words). You can find examples of Lead Sheets in any of The Real Books; these are collections of jazz standards that are sometimes used in bands as a starting point to play a song. By playing from the lead sheet, anyone (who can read) can make some reasonable music. In fact in Dave Weckl's Contemporary Drummer + One package, the jazz tune, "Again and Again" uses this type of approach.

    So to answer your question specifically about "Garden Wall". If you were to try to read a part that was already orchestrated for the drum kit (ie a transcription of exactly what Dave Weckl played) so that every cymbal hit, Hi Hat hit, snare accent and ghost stroke etc. were written it would be too hard to decipher quickly. Having the rhythms of the other instruments means that you can choose how to orchestrate the parts on the drum kit. This also means that there is a great deal of license to interpret the part within one's individual style. So two people reading the same chart could come up with very different interpretations. So when you say "transfer this saxophone/bass reading" what you would do is take those rhythms and apply them to the drum kit in a musical way. The point is you don't need to rewrite the part specifically for drums - interpreting what is written IS reading the drum part. For instance, anything written for the Bass you can pretty much safely (given that this is not a swing feel), play on the Bass Drum. Or at least pick out the crucial beats. The Saxophone is in a higher register and phrased kind of legato so you could for instance catch that rhythm on the Ride Cymbal.

    With practice, experience and knowledge you get to develop a sense of what to play and what NOT to play. How to orchestrate long and short notes on the drums and what the arranger intended. You also develop some standard ways of going about common tasks such as setting up figures and filling within a particular style.

    have a really good read of the booklet that comes with the package. Dave Weckl's notes and tips about how he interprets each tune are really in-depth and concise. He talks about the very thing you're asking.

    "Remember, it's chart interpretation we're concentrating on here - so you must use your ears as well as your eyes."


    The best practice for reading drum music is doing it. Ideally if you can get into a big band, that is the best environment to learn to read. Big band drumming crosses many different styles and feels, and the drums play a vital role in shaping the overall dynamics and mood of an arrangement. I'm not sure how old you are, but if you're still in school, many schools have a band or orchestra that may or may not be very good but as daggy as the music can be, (and it can be pretty daggy), it's still a great way to practice this process of reading and interpreting drum charts. When I was in High School we had a band that played for school musicals and we did concerts etc. The music certainly wasn't like playing with Miles Davis but there were charts and they had the same rhythmic figures, dynamics and road maps that all professional charts have. So it was a great way to start to learn to read and interpret drum charts.

    Let me know how you go.

    Good luck.

    Cheers Gordo.

    QUESTION FROM Barry (SYDNEY I guess):


    I used to check you out at the Harbourside Brasserie in 91 & 92. I was totally floored by your combination of jazz finesse & power - an incredible combination to watch.

    At that time I only ever saw you play traditional grip. On a couple of videos on your web site that are more recent I see you are playing with matched grip.

    Have you changed to matched grip or do you still use traditional? Do you have a preference?




    G'day Barry,

    Thanks for your kind words. I remember that period in the early 90s at the Brasserie very fondly. There was a lot of great music played down there. So it's nice to be reminded of that time and to know that others enjoyed it too.

    Back then I was playing a lot more jazz and improvisational music than I seem to play these days. When I started doing more pop type gigs, I was initially primarily playing traditional grip but I gradually came to realise that, whilst I could get the power I needed with traditional, I could get it with a lot less effort using matched. Gradually, as the pop gigs kind of took over, I played more and more matched.

    At first, I could play better rudimental stuff with traditional grip......then gradually the matched grip became stronger.

    I think in the end it's a matter of prioritising. I certainly love the look and feel of traditional grip but for me the groove became the most important element of playing so the issue of grip was less of a priority.

    I still use traditional grip for lighter cymbal work and always when playing brushes. That's the one occasion where it's a clear cut argument for me. To get the left hand swish, by playing a circular motion is much easier using the traditional grip. The motion results from a flick of the wrist with the fingers where as with matched grip the whole forearm is required to move in order to achieve the swish. Having said that, Bill Stewart plays beautiful brushes using a kind over windscreen wiper motion rather than a circle and playing matched grip!

    Steve Smith, on his wonderful DVD the History of the US Beat, makes a great argument for traditional grip when playing jazz. He says that the weight of the hand, when using matched grip, is too heavy and this is reflected in the sound produced. He argues that it's easier to get a lighter touch with traditional grip. On the other hand, once again Bill Stewart, as well as our own Andrew Gander are two of the finest jazz drummers I've ever heard. They both play matched but both have amazing control at low volumes as well as an incredible light touch.

    Tony Williams said in an interview (I think in Modern Drummer), that he has a left and a right and so why should they have to sound the same. Dave Weckl made a similar point in a clinic I once went to. He said that it's the difference in sound produced by each hand that gives the beat it's forward motion. I know in the last few years he had decided to play matched rather than traditional but ultimately didn't feel so comfortable so stayed with traditional.

    So to answer your question, I feel each grip has it's merits for certain situations. And each grip can do it all but sometimes it's easier with one or the other. For louder playing I'll opt for matched and for brushes I'll use traditional. For jazz I'll use a combination but for rock and funk, I'll mostly use matched.

    Thanks again for your kind words and reminding me of a wonderful, creative, musical period.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers Gordo.

    ADDENDUM!!! Upon reading this page, one of my former students and a fine jazz drummer residing in Melbourne, Craig Simon, contributed the following, adding to the discussion on Traditional and Matched grip.

    Hey Gordo,

    Craigo here,

    I was just going through your web site Q&A and saw a question about Matched vs Traditional grip. Specifically Steve Smith talking about weight of the hand for jazz/light playing being under the stick thus giving less weight to the stick during the stroke and the ability to get a lighter touch.

    You mentioned Bill getting great jazz touch from matched grip which I absolutely agree with. Some more info about how he gets such a great, light touch is that he has his hand well below the stick as he uses a twisting, (like opening the door), open-closed style; mainly fingers that duplicates the hand under stick of traditional grip. I'd suggest as an addition to the info that it is worth checking out the modern drummer video of Bill for clarification on how he makes it work - it is quite unorthodox!

    Thanks Craigox! Cheers Gordo


    Hi Gordo,

    We met at Australian Idol the other day. I forgot to ask you how many days does the band rehearse for each show?


    G'day Paul,

    I've had a few questions similar to this so I'll answer by giving you a run down on what happens.

    The theme of the each show is already decided weeks before and each contestant must pick a song that conforms with the theme of each week. On Monday night, one contestant is eliminated so on Tuesday, the remaining contestants each get together with John Foreman and work out the format of their song. They will work out the routine as the songs have to be cut to a certain length. They'll find the right key, tempo and any feel changes etc. Generally most contestants stick to the original feel or an approach of a version of the song with which they're familiar however occasionally some contestants have their own ideas and are very specific about how they want the song arranged. Guy Sebastian, Chanel Cole and Lee Harding all influenced the arranging of their tunes.

    Anyway, John scribbles out a rough guide of the format which is then sent to the arrangers, (or John himself), who will write out parts for each of the instruments that will be on the show that week.

    The arrangements are written on Wednesday for the pre-records. The band then meets at a recording Studio (which was Sony in East Sydney but it's now closed), and records the songs.

    For the live shows, where you see the band on TV, the arrangers have until Sunday to complete their parts. The band arrives on Sunday mornings about 10.00am. We then run through each of the songs and fix up any copying errors. Then the singers come in and run the songs 3 times each with the band, whilst the director works out his camera shots. After the camera runs, the band will record the song as a backing track which is used in the event that the singer is eliminated on the following Monday show. Then we break for lunch.

    After lunch we return to run the show through in sequence as a dress rehearsal. This is done with the hosts, Andrew G and James Mathison but not the judges. Another break and then we record the show live to air at 7.30pm.

    So it's basically all done in one day for the band. The band usually has the arrangement nailed on the first run through. In fact the hardest part is keeping focussed all day. We have a lot of fun on Idol and John makes sure everyone is relaxed and comfortable. So it's a real great environment to work. So thanks for your question. i hope that answers it.

    Cheers Gordo.


    Hi Gordo,

    Thanks for the previous email re: versatility...has helped out big time!

    Gordon, I was just wondering if you could recommend a book? I teach/specialise in drum kit at various primary and secondary colleges here in Victoria and I'm chasing an instructional book which teaches on world rhythms that can be played in a group together i.e. African, West African, Brazilian, Dance, Cuban etc. etc. I'm after a book for beginners to advanced students; I have students at all different levels.

    And also, I'm after a book which allows the student to take/apply the above world rhythms around the drum-kit i.e. I noticed that you were playing various world rhythm/s around the drum kit at the ultimate drummers weekend 2002 (DVD) which sounded very impressive!

    Percussion really isn't my forte but I'm also wondering why there are so many interpretations of world rhythms. What may be a samba to me may be played differently by someone else.

    What book do you most recommend or stick to?

    Thanks for your help.



    G'day Ben,

    Once again I'm sorry for the very slow reply.

    Since getting your email I've found a great book which is part of the Drummers Collective Certificate Series. It's called Afro-Caribbean & Brazilian Rhythms for the Drum set. It's published by Carl Fischer. I haven't seen it here (in Australia).

    The classic is Afro-Cuban Rhythms for Drum set - by Frank Malabe & Bob Wiener (Manhattan Music. It takes the rhythms and explains them as they were orchestrated within the percussion section and then applies them to drum set. Below is a great list of books that I'd recommend for a broad range of styles but these primarily focus on the full kit.


  • Brazilian Rhythms for Drum set - by Duduka Da Fonseca & Bob Wiener (Manhattan Music)

  • Funkifying The Clave - by Robbie Ameen & Lincoln Goines (Manhattan Music)

  • Practical Applications using Afro - Caribbean Rhythms - by Chuck Silverman Vols. 1-3 (CPP Belwin)

  • The Art of Reggae Drumming - by Desi Jones (Ceneterstream Publications)

  • Give The Drummer Some - Jim Payne (Manhattan Music)

  • Future Sounds - by David Garibaldi (Alfred publications)

  • New Orleans Jazz and Second Line Drumming - by Herlin Riley & Johnny Vidacovich (Manhattan Music)

  • New Orleans Drumming Second Line and Funk Rhythms - by Roy Burns & Joey Farris (Rhythms Publications)

  • Studio and Big Band Drumming - by Steve Houghton (C.L. Barnhouse Company)

    Hope this helps and once again sorry for the slow reply.

    Cheers Gordo


    G'day Gordo

    Thanks for that great clinic the other week. 17 of my students attended over both sessions (some both ) plus about 5 parents. Everybody without exception was knocked out by your performance and it has sparked an interest in double strokes and hand foot combos. Would you be able to suggest a good book on the sort of hand foot combos that you were doing as I would like to get some new ideas? I'm getting some great feed back from some of the students about the big band at the drum expo. That's the first time they have seen a big band and were knocked out by it. Anyway thanks again, see you soon.

    Mal Morgan


    Hi Mal,

    Thanks for the comments and thanks for coming to the Penrith clinic too.

    I'm trying to think of a book on the subject. Gary Chaffee wrote a great series called Patterns Volumes 1-4. Volume 4 deals with an approach to those types of fills amongst many other great concepts but it's not the focus of the book. Also same with Dave Weckl's book that accompanies his second video from the late 80s, "Dave Weckl The Next Step". In it he demonstrates and approach to those types of fills.

    I'll try to think of some others.

    Also one of the lessons on the Lessons page of this site has a method to develop some hand/foot combinations.

    Once again thanks for your interest and it was great to see you the other week.

    Cheers Gordo.


    Hi Gordon,

    My name is Ben and i just wanted to ask you about drumming as a profession and really how 'solid' is this kind of career. I realise you studied the jazz course at the con in sydney and I was curious how much work you were able to obtain straight after you finished your course. Do you recommend that if you feel you are good enough you should follow this pathway or would you suggest obtaining a more 'stable' type degree and job and then hitting the music business? It seems hard to get straight answer to this question. Some say 'do what you want to do', some say get a more 'stable' type degree and then hit the music business so you've got your degree to bounce back on, and some say steer clear of the music business all together.

    Thanks A Lot

    From Ben


    Hi Ben,

    Thanks for your question and as usual I have to apologise for the very slow reply. It's taken me a while for a couple of reasons. Firstly I've been pretty busy and secondly because it's a really tough question to answer. I don't want to guide you the wrong way so please understand that you have to work it our yourself. I can offer some perspective based on my experiences but it's not a simple yes or no. As you said, people haven't been able to give you a straight answer and the reason is that it's simply too difficult for anyone else to do so.

    I have to say that if you love playing drums, feel that you're good enough and want to take your playing as far as you can, then give it a shot. Life's too short to not have a go. If you don't, you may end up regretting that decision and you could be quite bitter as a result. If you do have a go, there will be times when it's really hard. The competition is tough, there is no such thing as holiday pay, so it means that if you stop working you don't get paid. You may also be forced to have to decide between playing music you don't like, but pays well, as opposed to music you love that doesn't pay. If you want to make a great living, then it is possible as a musician but there are certainly easier ways. It is possible to do well but it's hard work, takes lots of time and there is no regularity to your life which can be tough when you have a family.

    It reminds me of the joke about the Irish Jazz musician who was "in it for the money".....or the musician who wins $1,000,000 on Lotto and the clerk handing him the winning cheque asks, "what are you going to do with the money?" to which he replies, "I'll just keep playing until it runs out".

    My advice is if you love to play drums, then have a go. Try to get some tertiary qualifications such as the degree course in Jazz Studies at the Sydney Con. (You may also be able to do an education stream if you feel you need something solid to fall back on).

    I have written an article for Drumscene which outlines some of my views on tertiary study. In it I wrote, "while the qualification itself is not necessarily going to help your playing career, there are definite advantages such as the provision of an instant network of musicians, access to great knowledge, the potential to legitimise what you love to do in the eyes of others and access to practice facilities and resources that would otherwise be unattainable".

    If after a couple of years you're not having much success then it's still not too late to change strategies.

    Almost all of the pro drummers I know, do some teaching to supplement their income. This is great if you enjoy teaching but can drive you crazy if you don't. So that's another thing to think about.

    The times certainly have changed since I was starting out professionally. There is less work around now, and more players capable of doing that work so it's definitely tough to get a foot hold. So my experience immediately after I left the con was in a different scene from that now. But it was as a result of making contacts in the Con that I was able to get established in the jazz scene and then later the commercial scene. So if you are going to have a go, I think enrolling in a good tertiary institution is a great idea.

    I really hope this helps.

    Let me know what you reckon.

    All the best, cheers Gordo.


    Hey Gordon, Daniel Farrugia from Melbourne here. I recently played with Doug Parkinson in Melbourne. Just wanted to say I really enjoyed your playing on his cd and it was scary playing your parts man.

    I have a quick question for you gordon seeing as you know all about Yamaha drums. Is there a significant difference between a recording custom kit and a birch absolute kit? At the moment I'm playing Darryn Farrugia's old black recording custom drums. I really like them and I'm thinking of buying some.

    Hopefully hear from you soon.



    G'day Daniel,

    Nice to hear from you.

    As far as I can tell the differences are more cosmetic than they are to do with sound. The Absolute Nouveau lugs use this brilliant concept where they hook onto the shell via these little node points. The advantage is that you can loosen the lug a few turns and take the whole lug off making changing heads a real snack. You could get a head off and replace within a minute or so. That's certainly great.

    But I'm a fan of the Birch sound and I really feel that the absolutes are kind of an updated version of the 9000. There are obviously more colour choices and the advantage of the Nouveau lugs but if you like the sound of the 9000s then go for it. I love them too. I've had 5 of em!

    Glad to hear you're well mate. Take it easy.

    Cheers Gordo


    Hello Gordon,

    How are you? Remember me? Your drum student, David, for 7 lessons last semester and I had a brother who was taking lessons with Mark Costa at the same time. It was really fun and a privilege to learn drums from you and I've been practising a lot lately. Sadly, due to other commitments at uni, I am unable to continue with my lessons with you. Maybe, later, when I am more free and if you are willing then I would love to come and continue taking lessons from you.

    Well, I went to check out your site, and it's soooo cool that your doing all these gigs. I looked at the video clip of the song "Norwegian Wood" sung by Doug Parkinson and it sounded sooo good, the style and everything. What you were doing with the drums were really amazing and complex but it sounded good. If it's not too much of a bother, I would like to ask if you have a drum tab for that song or just a tab of what the main beat was during the instrumental, because as you were playing the beat with your left hand on the snare and right hand on the ride, you added all these other (ghost) notes on the snare and it sounded really good... it looked like some kind of paradiddle but i dunno.

    I understand that you are very busy right now so if you don't have time, then it's ok. Nice talking to you again.... and I was watching Australian idol once and I saw u playing the drums. It was cool. Anyways, keep staying happy and have fun.


    David Chan


    Hi David,

    Nice to hear from you. Of course I remember you. I hope all is well with you and your family.

    Below are the main grooves for each section of Norwegian Wood.

    The first groove is played on the Rims and any unison notes are actually flammed to make them sound fatter. Also I haven't written it but the left foot is playing a dotted quarter note pulse on the Hi-Hat.

    Then in the Verse it's essentially the same groove as the Intro but the right hand plays the Ride Cymbal rather than the Rim and there's the Bass Drum added on beats 1 and 3 or 1 and 7 if you're thinking in 12/8.

    The Bridge is an old Afro-Cuban beat I stole from Art Blakey. It's a variation on what Art played on Caravan.

    And you're correct about the groove behind the Piano Solo. It is basically a Double Paradiddle pattern with the Bass Drum supporting the right hand on a few notes. The sticking is R L R L R R L R L R L L. You really have to ghost the unaccented notes for this to feel like a groove and not an exercise!

    Finally I've written the groove from the very last A section of the tune where we kind of drive the song home. So in this groove the Bass Drum plays dotted quarters along with the Bass to kick it up a notch before the little drum fills at the end.

    Hope this helps to clarify what's going on.

    Anyway, all the best.

    Cheers Gordo


    Hi Gordon,

    The first time I saw you live was at the Australia's Drum Festival at Sydney Superdome 2005! You and the band were BRILLIANT! Loved it! Just wondering if you're gonna do some more sections/clinics in the 2006 festival?.

    Also, just wondering... do you know Mitch Farmer? and what you think of him?




    Hi Ivan,

    Well thank you very much for the kind words. It was a real thrill to be able to do that Festival with the Big Band......(without trying to do the advertising thing, I very much have to thank Yamaha for having the balls to put up the money to cover the expense of the band). It was great to be able to play with a band that size and maybe expose a few people to some music that you don't get to hear all too often. Drum days are usually very much about soloing so I always try to do something that involves playing with other musicians. And the big band was a really special way to do that. I've done some things with percussionists before too. I'd love to play again at the next one but haven't been asked....I think they like to vary the program and have different people particularly in consecutive years.

    I've known Mitch for many years. I remember first hearing Mitch do a clinic at the pub down the road from the old Drum City shop in Chippendale. He was playing some Bill Bruford odd time stuff with a band. I think it was Dieter Kleeman on guitar and Andy Sidari on bass. That's probably back in the mid 80s.

    We've occasionally done gigs on the same bill and hung out a little although these days we're kind of moving in different circles. He's often playing in the country scene which is something I rarely get to do.

    I love Mitch's playing. He's got a great groove and really nice clean chops. He seems to get great space between his notes. One of my all time favourite Aussie Rock tracks is Young Years by Dragon. Mitch's drumming is really beautiful. It's a simple rock beat but check out the way he plays the spaces between the notes. He seems to get a lot of air in there. The groove feels really nice. It's off an album called Bondi Road which may be hard to track down these days but if you ever come across it grab it. He's also on at least one Tommy Emmanual CD and it's the same thing; beautiful space in his time feel.

    Whenever I've heard him live he sounds great. We did a gig down the Basement at the beginning of 2004 where he was with Gary Daly's band and I was playing with Glue (which incidentally turned out to be our last gig). Gary's music is a fusion of jazz rock and latin styles and it was great to hear Mitch stretch out, improvising and soloing. The stuff I've heard him mainly do usually doesn't have a lot of room to kind of go for it in that way. So it was great to hear him in that context.

    Thanks for writing. Hopefully I'll see you at next year's festival and I hope this answered your questions.

    Cheers Gordo.


    Hi, We haven't ever met before but I've seen you do clinics and on TV heaps of times over the years. Your clinics are the best I've ever been to because not only do you play amazingly well, but you explain everything clearly. Lot's of guys just play and can't say what their doing. So my question is do you plan to put out a DVD or instructional book and if so when?

    Thanks Anthony W.


    Hi Anthony, Well thanks very much and I'm glad you have enjoyed my gigs and learnt something from my clinics. The concept of a clinic has changed over the years. I originally understood it to be an event that was entertaining but primarily educational in nature. These days, many clinics are like performances. It's great to hear people play in a kind of drummer-only environment but I always enjoy it when I learn something from the clinician. Peter Erskine inspires me as much as a teacher as he does, a player. His books and videos are just the most succinct, beautifully presented educational packages. They're absolutely loaded with great information and little musical gems! I've ripped a lot off Peter's teaching style!

    As far as a DVD of my own is concerned, I'm actually talking to some people now about doing something next year. I have to map it out and spend some time working out what to include...that's the toughest thing because there are so many things I'd like to talk about. Anyway, the short answer is maybe mid way through 2006 I'll have something out there.

    So thanks for your interest and I'll let you know when it's released.

    Cheers Gordo.


    Hi Gordon,

    My son is a drummer but he's too shy to ask you a question.

    We saw you on Idol playing with Lee Harding doing Eye of the Tiger. In the middle of it you played a drum fill for 4 whole bars. Do you remember that fill and can you explain it for my son please? Sincerely, Jane.


    Hi Jane,

    Well I didn't think I was that scary that people couldn't ask me a question! That's actually a great question and your son is not the first to ask. There are 3 or 4 members of the Idol crew who play the drums and they were asking me about that very same fill!

    It's a pattern that I play a lot.....probably too often! Actually the tune was written in 4/4 rather than common time so the fill is in fact only two bars long and not four. Here it is:

    Hope that clears up any mystery, and please tell your son he's welcome to write and ask anything he wants.

    Thanks and all the best,

    Cheers Gordo.


    Hi Gordon,

    I love your playing and I am just wondering if you use any drum notation software. If you do, which one do you use?




    Hi Bob,

    Thanks for the compliment. It's nice to hear that people enjoy what you do.

    I use a notation program to write out charts for any musical gigs where I have to learn tunes as well as creating my teaching and clinic files.

    I have used Encore for many years and although it's not as fully featured as Sibelius and Finale, it's very easy to use and I could export a musical example of, for instance one or two bars, and then import it into a word processor to make my teaching files.

    I recently got Finale which has many more features and better fonts etc. I'm slowly learning to use it but still feel more at home with Encore. I guess it's that I'm so used to the way Encore works. But I would really like to take advantage of Finale's better features so it's probably a case of just getting stuck into learning it.

    Anyway, hope this helps.

    Merry Christmas.

    Cheers Gordo


    Hi Gordo,

    My names Liam and i'm a 20 year old drummer from Melbourne. I've emailed you a couple of times before and found your replies very detailed and extremely helpful. I'm looking at buying a new snare, so i thought i would come to you for some advice.

    Through some research on the net I came across Brady drums. After reading their history and finding out they're an Australian company and along with their premium class artist roster that includes many of my favourites, i'm pretty much sold on getting one of their snares. Although they are quite expensive, everything I have read so far suggests that they are worth every cent. Have you had any experience with Brady snares, and if so would you recommend me to get one?? I'm thinking of buying a Jarrah Ply type.

    I'm also thinking of upgrading my drum kit in the next 6-12 months also. I realise that you're a major endorser of Yamaha drums but i was wondering if you've heard any other drumkits that you thought sounded amazing and what brand and type were they??

    Thanks in Advance.



    G'day Liam,

    Thanks for the email.

    Yes I have played Brady Snares. I used to use a Jarrah 14" x 6". It had such great power, projection and cut and yet it was really warm sounding too. The 12" block shell I used to use as a main snare on the Steve Vizard show. In fact I was only recently looking at some old videos and heard that drum. It was a bit unusual to have such a small drum for a main snare but when you hear it in context it sounded great.

    I haven't used Brady snares for a while as I'm currently enjoying metal drums. I've recently got a Paul Leim Yamaha Signature snare. It's a Brass drum that's been chromed. I really love it! I guess I go through phases. At the moment I just love the sound of metal.

    But I'd say if you've heard one you like, you should probably get it.

    As for drum kits, I endorse Yamaha because I really do love them. I always say that if I didn't have an endorsement deal with Yamaha, I'd still play their drums because they really are the best for me.

    Firstly, they have an incredible sound. There's something in the way they make them because regardless of the type of wood they use, every Yamaha kit has a certain fat, warmth that I rarely hear in other manufacturer's drums. If you mess around long enough you can probably get it on another kit but Yamahas just sound awesome out of the box. I've never played a Yamaha that couldn't be tuned really quickly!

    Having said that they all have that great sound, my favourite is the Birch. I'm currently playing the Birch Absolute Neuveau and they are incredible! I'm using coated Emporers and they sound beautiful.

    The Maples also sound great and have a bit more cut, but they're still really warm. I use a Maple kit for Jazz and my Birch for Funk/Rock stuff.

    The other great thing about Yamaha is the intelligence of the hardware. It's so well designed that's it's really easy to place drums and cymbals exactly where you want them. No other brand can do that as well as Yamaha I believe. It's really well made, very strong, relatively light and very consistent. I've had no trouble with any Yamaha hardware after years of gigging and touring.

    They have have some really cool subtle features too. Nice wide wing nuts for easy adjustments, boom arms that disappear into the main cymbal stand shaft, great little add on stands etc for splash cymbals and mounting percussion, the new Hi Hat stand that has this really cool two leg's a bit hard to describe so here's a picture. It's the HS 1100 model.

    I know this sounds like a typical endorser's rave but I really love Yamaha drums for all these reasons and that's why I play them.

    Hope this helps. Cheers mate, Gordo


    Hi Gordon,

    I just saw your website and noticed you are using oak customs. I am

    considering purchasing a set and would appreciate your opinions on them. Is oak closer in sound/tones/volume to birch or maple. I am tossing up between these and Pearl masters maple drums. The oak's are also considerably cheaper than the Pearl's.

    I have not heard the oak's yet but they intrigue me, as a friend has a set and a Brady set and thinks that the oaks are on a par with his Brady's for tone and volume, particularly in loud live gigs.

    Thank you for your help.





    Hi Luke,

    I should first apologise because I haven't updated the Set Up page of the site for quite some time and I'm currently playing the Birch Custom Absolutes rather than the Oak Customs. I've loved the Birch sound from the first time I played a Yamaha kit. I played the Oaks for a couple of years but then went back to the Birch. The Oaks do sound great. They have amazing punchy clarity and great volume. They're kind of a cross between Birch and Maple. The Maple punch and the Birch warmth.......I used them a lot playing Rock music but found that at lower volumes the Birch had more colour in the tone. So that's why I switched back to Birch.

    I recorded a CD with a band called Green Dollar Colour on Oaks and it came up sounding incredible. The CD is not available in Australia yet but you could get it through the web from Europe. It's kind of old school Hard Rock.

    I have to say that I'm really not a fan of Pearl Drums. They can sound OK but I find that the sound doesn't project back to me as well as it does on the Yamahas. Also I find the hardware difficult to position exactly where I want it.

    I know it sounds a bit like a hard sell, but I would definitely recommend that you go with Yamaha. I do endorse Yamaha but that's because I genuinely think they're the best drums! I've played Yamaha drums for 19 continuous years now,. They are beautifully made and sound great. They're very consistent too. I really do love them. I would play Yamaha even it I didn't have an endorsement.

    So anyway, good luck. I guess it depends what type of music you play but I would check out an Oak kit as well as a Birch.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers Gordo


    Hey Gordo,

    How're things. Happy new year!! I'm well, been keeping busy. Just a quick question, i'm currently using the studio cans, which from my recollection you've also owned. how do the beyer cans compare!! i find the studio cans heavy and i'm not sure i like the way my kit sounds through them. anyway loved to hear what you think!! hey i got louises' album when she was down in melbourne. Great playing!! some great snare sounds and the kick drum on the reggae tune is gold! where the changes in sound achieved with effects or the use of different drums?

    hope your well


    Hi mate,

    Good to hear from you.

    The Studio Kans are pretty good but the isolation is so full that I feel you don't get any sense of touch directly from the drums where as the Beyer DT 770 Ms allow you to hear and feel the kit acoustically. Another advantage is that the Beyers have an attached lead rather than the removable lead on the Studio Kans which would always cause connection problems in my experience. Also the Beyers are certainly lighter and after a quick period of adjustment to the less enclosed sound and the lightness I really have come to prefer them. Oh and another advantage is because of the fact that they're lighter, you can wear them for much longer without the fatigue that you get with the tighter, heavier Studio Kans.

    I had a listen to Louise's CD tonight. I haven't really had a chance to since I got it. I think it's pretty much all done in post production. I can't remember which Bass Drum I used....most likely the Birch Custom Absolute or possibly even the Oak but it's a long time ago now. Sorry I can't be more helpful. I think you're probably referring to the post production effects though.

    Anyway, you should definitely check out the Beyer cans; they're awesome! Catch up with you soon.

    Cheers Gordo.


    Gordon, I just have this one question

    About your on stage monitoring system, what do you use? If its The phones what kind are they? Cause I'm having problems finding the Right h/phones for my electronic drum kit and for them being able to Handle the bottom frequencies. Please email! Thanx Gordon

    P.S By the way you are one of my greatest inspirations


    Hi John,

    Well thanks mate. It's nice to know that people enjoy my playing so thank you for letting me know.

    Much of my work is freelance and therefor I find myself in many different situations where firstly I don't have a lot of control over my monitoring system, and secondly, the monitoring needs will differ. That is if I'm playing acoustic jazz for instance, I don't like to wear headphones. Usually the volume level in that sort of music is such that there is little or no need for monitoring. If the stage is large and they have fold back speakers I'll usually just want some piano as it's generally quieter than horns and doesn't project as well. So it's nice to hear the piano clearly. Also if the bass is quiet I might ask for a little bass and then the lead instrument such as a vocalist. In acoustic jazz I'll generally not have any drums in my fold back.

    For live rock playing, again I like monitor speakers rather than headphones or in ears as it feels more real! In this type of gig I'll have a basic mix of everything with perhaps an emphasis on the bass and drums, particularly the kick drum.

    For studio and TV recording as well as any live stuff with a click, I'll always use headphones. I found that the in ear monitors don't have enough bottom end and feel uncomfortable - even the moulded type. So I'm using Beyer DT 770 headphones. They're very comfortable, have good isolation (but not too much so that you lose your touch on the drums), great frequency range and response, and have a volume slide on the lead so you can get to it easily in mid song. I'm actually looking at endorsing these Beyers. I genuinely think they're great. I was using another brand which was pretty good but they were very tight and became uncomfortable during prolonged use.

    So for your electronics, I'd recommend the Beyer DT 770s.

    Hope this helps.

    All the best for the festive season.

    Cheers Gordo


    howdy Gordo,

    When you played with Sunil De Silva in TUDW 2002, you seemed to play alot of ghost notes on the snare drum and first tom. I was wondering if that is just a habbit of yours or does it contribute to your grove playing in general on the kit and help you improvise accenting patterns and make it sound more interesting.

    cheers, brad


    Hi Brad,

    Thanks for the question.

    The sticking patterns I use contain accents and ghost notes to bring the phrases to life. It is the hills and valleys of a phrase (dynamically speaking) which make it interesting and expressive. Also the ghost notes help to place the accents more accurately and contribute to the flow of a phrase, which in turn helps the groove. So the answer to your question is that I use ghost notes to contribute to the groove and make it sound more interesting.

    Having said that to develop my vocabulary I have practiced various patterns and stickings involving ghosted and accented notes so in a sense you could say that it's a habit - one that I have developed on purpose. But hopefully when I am soloing, I am improvising phrases, sounds and textures that are inspired by the musical setting and are not wholly pre-conceived.

    I hope this answers your question.

    Cheers Gordo


    hey. howz it going?? i wrote to you not so long ago telling you how much of a jet you are on aussie idol but now i need to ask you a question and get your opinion on something. im currently in the market of buying a new kit. i play alot of funky fusion sort of stuff but i also play jazz every now and then. i've been looking at the gretsh catlina birch series..the kit is a fusion size standard 5 piece retailing at $1999. i've also had an offer of a premier genista series kit for around the same price. the only catch is is that the genista kit is third hand and is fairly old(10-15 yrs). now gettin to my question. i was wondering if how old a kit is has any effect on the sound it produces??thats basically my main question so yeh. if you could get bak to me that would get unreal and if u have an ideas on what kit i could purchase please give me your opinion...look after yourself and hope to hear from you soon




    G'day Jono,

    Sorry again for the delayed response. Things have been pretty busy again lately.

    I don't know a whole lot about Premier or Gretch drums. But the age of a drum shouldn't effect the sound unless it's been badly treated. If for instance it's been on the road and perhaps dropped or left out in the sun it may go "out of round"; that is to say that the drum may no longer form a perfect circle which can definitely have an adverse effect on the sound. If the Genista kit is a high quality professional model, and it's been looked after then it might be OK......have a good play on it and mess around with the tuning to see if it tunes easily. If you have any problems then don't buy it.

    To be honest I was never a real fan of the Premier sound.......

    Certainly the cheaper quality kits won't last as well as a top quality kit.

    Have you checked out any Yamaha drums? I know it sounds a bit like a hard sell, but I would definitely recommend that you have a try of a Yamaha. I do endorse Yamaha but the reason is because I genuinely think they're the best drums! I've played Yamaha drums for 19 years now. They are beautifully made and sound great. They're very consistent too. I really do love them. If you could pick up an old 9000 series Birch, (that's the classic Steve Gadd sound), then that would be awesome.

    If you live in Sydney, Billy Hydes has the Yamaha Absolute Birch (which is the updated 9000 series) kit that I used this season on Australian Idol. And I know that they'd be willing to sell it at a great price because it's been used. It does have a 22" kick which might be too big for playing, mainly fusion and Jazz. The toms are, 10", 12" and 14". It's a beautiful kit and the finish is a purple to silver fade!

    Anyway, sorry I can't really help with the specific Premier and Gretch kits but take your time and check out a Yamaha because once you buy the drums you'll have to live with them for a while. Make sure you're going to be happy with them.

    Cheers Gordo


    hey gords

    howz it goin??

    i just got my new kit the other day( its a 7 piece gretsch catalina birch series) and im having a bit of trouble tuning it...ive got the bass sounding nice and fat and ive got the 8 inch tom sounding unbelieveable (its my fav out of all of them)...the 10 ans 12 inch toms are fairly good aswell but its the 14 and 16 inch floor toms that im having trouble with.....i was wondering if you got any tips on how to get them sounding nice and to the best of thier ability...

    have a good one


    P.S...when you use or 8 inch tom do u use a 22 or 20 bass???


    Hi mate,

    That's really tough without seeing the drums. Have you tried thicker heads? For instance if you use Ambassadors on the small toms you might want to try Emperors on the Floors. Then again you might need to go thinner. It all depends on the drums. As I said it's hard to say without hearing them and I'm really not that familiar with Gretch.

    I'm sorry I can't help more.

    i haven't used an 8" tom for a while now but when I did I used it with both a 20" and 22" kick. For the last few years I've been using a 20" but this last year on Australian Idol Yamaha supplied a kit with a 22" kick and i really loved the sound. So fat with so much bottom. So I'm looking at going back to a 22". My toms at the moment are 10", 12" and 14" or 15". THE 8" is great but I felt I needed lower tones. It took me many years to change though. I've been using an 8" from 1987 to 2004!!

    Anyway, sorry I can't help more with the floor toms.

    Good luck. Cheers Gordo


    hey gordy

    how are you doing??

    i was wondering if you could help me out. im thinking about( and probably will) convert my 16inch floor tom into a bass drum. just because i need it for those small quiter gigs and it will be easier to move aorund for practises. now getting to my point, i was wondering if you have used many 12inch hats.I'm thinking about buying some to go with the 16 bass. i would like them to sound nice and funky and id rather them b not to loud. got any ideas, even if they dont match what i want i'd really like to hear what you think....

    anyway take care and hopefully ill get to see you play soon ( i live in melbourne)



    Hi Jono,

    I do have a great pair of 12" Hi-Hats. They're called 12" Mini Hats by Sabian. I usually use them as an auxiliary pair of Hi-Hats, set up on the Right side of the kit just above the Floor Tom when my main pair is 13". (Sometimes I use 14s as the main pair and 13s as the auxiliaries).

    Having said that I used the 12s the other day on a session as my main Hats, set up with my 18" Be Bop Bass Drum and my 10" Snare to create a high pitched loop. They sounded great for that. Very bright and clear. Great for hip hop! Check them out. They might be just what you're after.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers Gordo


    Hi Gordon! My name is Robert. I've applied for The Bachelor of Music majoring in Composition at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. I also play the drums. While waiting until next year when uni starts (hoping to get into the Con.) I've been doing a lot of song writing. I was just wondering, the orchestra they used for the track 'The Prayer' by Anthony Callea, is how many piece orchestra? Im interested in writing songs combining it with an orchestra, similar to the song 'the Prayer'.

    Thank you very much for your time.

    Robert - God bless


    Hi Robert,

    I can't recall exactly how many players were in the orchestra and really I'd only be guessing. I do remember that the large room at studio 301 was pretty full. I'll ask John Foreman who conducted and produced the song.

    At a rough guess, there were maybe 35 orchestral type musicians - strings, horns and percussion etc, plus the rock rhythm section, bass, piano, drums and of course vocals. But as I said I'll check with John Foreman.

    Sorry I can't be more accurate at this point.

    I'll let you know when I get a response.

    Cheers Gordo


    Hi Robert,

    John Foreman has replied to my email with the following details.

    "There were approximately ten first violins, eight seconds, six violas, four celli and a couple of double basses were joined by three french horns, two trumpets, a trombone or two, an oboe, a flute, a harp, a timpani and the rhythm section to form our "Prayer" ensemble."

    The rhythm section was Bass, Piano and Drums - no guitar.

    So I make that 43 or 44 musicians in the band.

    Hope this helps.

    Have a great Christmas.

    Cheers Gordo


    Question about Sight Reading

    Hi Gordon,

    Just a quick question. I would like to learn how to sight read, what instructional materials would you recommend?



    G’day Bobby,

    Thanks for your question.

    I feel there are two main stages in developing the ability to sight read real charts. Depending where you’re at, you can decide where to start.

    First you have to develop the ability to read rhythmic figures and understand how other instruments phrase and feel those figures. This is pretty genre-specific. For instance a couple of great sources of Big Band Jazz phrases are Ted Reed’s “PROGRESSIVE STEP TO SYNCOPATION” (commonly referred to as “Syncopation”), and Louis Bellson & Gil Breines’, “MODERN READING TEXT IN 4/4”. There’s some good 16th note reading in the melody pages of Gary Chester’s “THE NEW BREED” - this applies more to Rock and Funk feels. Other good rhythm books include “THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO READING RHYTHM” by local drummer Bill Kezelos.

    Once you’re confident that you can read and interpret single line rhythms you then need to develop the ability to keep your place by counting and ultimately feel bars going by in groups of 4, 8, 12 and 16 etc. This really comes from doing it. You also need to understand the layout and “road map” of a real chart. For this, I’d highly recommend “CHART READING WORKBOOK” by Bobby Gabriele. It progresses clearly and logically through simple figure-interpretation as well as road map concepts such as repeats, 1st and 2nd time bars, Signs, Codas and so on. It also has a play along CD and is based on Big Band style but the concepts apply to any style of reading. Another great book that could be a bit harder to find is Steve Houghton’s “STUDIO & BIG BAND DRUMMING”. It too has great examples of real charts but in a variety of styles. Also the road map concepts are thoroughly explained and there’s a play along too (a tape on my version but I imagine it comes with a CD now). You may have to look online to track this one down. Other good books on materials include, “THE BIG BAND DRUMMER” – a great book by Modern Drummer Magazine editor Ron Spagnardi. Steve Houghton also had a video called “The Drummer's Guide to Reading Drum Charts”. Here’s a rave about it but once again it may be hard to track down.

    “This video provides the drummer with strong, overall skills for reading drum set charts.
    Houghton uses a detailed approach in discussing musical definitions, stylised reading, set-up
    techniques, sight-reading concepts, ensemble playing skills, and chart analysis.

    Houghton uses 22 actual charts to demonstrate various problems and trouble
    spots in reading drum charts. The collection covers almost every reading
    situation and format the drummer might encounter.”

    So I hope this answers your question. Most of this material is based on Big Band type reading but this is a great way to establish the foundations of any style of reading.

    Good luck and let me know how you go.

    Cheers Gordo


    G'Day Gordy,

    I recently caught your gig at the Syd drummer's weekend. I was impressed at how smooth your playing style is, though annoyed that they shortened your time.

    When you were playing it sounded as though you were using a double pedal for certain fills, however i didnt think that you had one set up on the kit. Can I ask what technique do you use to get that double pedal sound?

    Keep up the great work!



    Hi Kristian,

    Sorry for the slow reply. It's been a busy Christmas period for us. But I hope you've had a good holiday season.

    Thanks for your kind words. Yeah it was a drag that we had to cut our set short but that's the way it goes I guess. I would really have loved to have devoted some time for questions on the day (such as yours) not only to share what I can but to gauge where people are at during the clinic. I mean it's best to talk about stuff that you know people want to talk about rather than rave about something that only interests me!

    So anyway, thanks for your question.

    Funnily enough, I did in fact have a double pedal set up that day but didn't use it at all! Double pedal playing is something that for me anyway, I have to work to maintain. At certain times over the years when I've been playing music that warrants a double pedal I've managed to stay in reasonable that I mean basic single stroke rolls in 16ths, triplets and the occasional flam. I've never got my feet doing double stroke rolls or any super fast Virgil stuff! Anyway, I like to use the pedals at clinics and drum shows but the truth is that my feet were pretty out of shape during the drum festival as I really haven't had cause to play much double-kick since Lee Harding left Idol in 2005! So I did set them up but on the day opted to not play the left pedal.

    So to answer your question, I developed my right foot regular bass drum technique kind of inadvertently through two main sources. Firstly, when I started playing drums seriously I would try to copy John Bonham's famous broken triplet lick which he often played but which can be heard very clearly and to great effect in "Good Times, Bad Times" from Led Zeppelin's first album. This is a cool sounding lick and has since been used by many others including Dennis Chambers. Here’s a variation written below.

    The other thing that helped develop my right foot was playing in a Brazilian band. We would play lots of sambas at pretty fast tempos (half note equals 130 bpm plus) and we’d often play a song for 20 minutes or more when people were dancing so that did wonders for my power and endurance. I’d generally play what I’ve written below on the bass drum for the whole time...

    I would also practice the following three motifs to develop integrating the bass drum with the the hands in my fills.

    Other things I would practice to help integrate the kick within fills include the dexterity studies that Dave Weckl demonstrates on his “Next Step” video and some hand foot combinations in triplets and 16ths.

    Anyway, once again, thanks for the question and sorry for the delay. I’m glad you enjoyed our performance at the Drum Festival.

    I really hope this helps to answer your question. All the best for the new year.

    Cheers Gordo



    Hi, I would like to know how to get the best action out of my kick drum Pedal. I have used all the best pedals there are. Can u give me some pointer on:

    1. How tight should the spring tension be?

    2. How high should the beater be, all the way?

    3. How far should the stroke be, from the time you're at rest with the pedal and till it hits the drum head?

    Are there any stand guidelines to go by? Please help!

    Big Ed


    Hi Ed,

    Sorry for the slow reply.

    I’m afraid there really is no correct answer to your questions; it really does vary from player to player. What I can tell you is what works for me although I should add that like most things in drumming, this is basically where I’m at at the moment. One thing I’ve realised after playing for twenty six years is that everything changes. Issues such as seat height, traditional verses matched grip and drum sizes are a work in progress. And so too is bass drum technique and pedal set-up.

    Another factor in determining how you play and set-up your pedal is the style of music you play. The old argument between heal up or heal down is highly influenced by the music you play. For instance in acoustic jazz, where the bass drum is typically tuned more open with more ring, it makes sense to me to play heal down so you can let the beater release from the head after the stroke. Playing louder music such as rock, where the tuning is often much more dead, I like to play with my heal up which enables me to get more power with less effort.

    So to answer your questions:

    1. How tight should the spring tension be?

    As I said there really is no correct answer as the spring tension will vary for different players but I actually have the springs as tight as they will go. This gives me the best response from the pedal and it springs back to the starting position much quicker.

    2. How high should the beater be, all the way ?

    Again this will vary from player to player but I usually try to make the beater hit the dead centre of the drum head. That’s the spot that produces the sound I like. On a 22” Bass Drum this is just about all the way up. I haven’t played a 24” for many years but I guess if I did, I’d need longer beater shaft to meet the middle of the drum. On an 18” Bass Drum this shaft will need to be lowered to hit the centre of the head but you can experiment. If you feel that the shaft is not getting enough power then maybe give it a little more length and hit the head above the centre. It really is a matter of finding the compromise between the feeling you like and the sound you like.

    3. How far should the stroke be, from the time you're at rest with the pedal and until it hits the drum head?

    I think you’re asking about the arc of the beater. My beater sits about 80mm above the top of my foot (when it’s resting between strokes), and travels through almost 90 degrees to make contact with the head.

    I use regular Yamaha pedals with Danmar felt beaters (mostly but occasionally I’ll use the Danmar wooden beater with a patch on the head).

    I’m really sorry I can’t give you a definitive answer to your questions but like everything in drumming it’s an individual thing.

    Good luck and I hope that this does help.

    Cheers Gordo.


    Hey Gordo,

    My name is Andrew I’m 20 years old I had a lesson with you in early 2005 and I try to make it to most of your gigs where ever possible. You are truly inspiring and such a professional drummer, it’s amazing to hear and watch you play live! I have a tricky question for you and one that gets spoken about regularly between drummers and musos alike. My question is regarding groove and playing in the pocket. Everytime I hear you play live, the groove is rock solid and everything just sits in the pocket. I’m wondering have you worked on anything to develop playing in the pocket and that strong sense of groove? Or can you recommend anything that develops this apart from the obvious of practicing with a click/metronome?
    I’d be interested to know your thoughts on this area of drumming.

    Keep up the great work!

    Andrew Warren


    Hi Andrew,

    Well thank you very much for your kind words. I really appreciate it.

    That really is the ultimate question - how do I groove better? It’s going to be tough to give you the answer as fully as I would like but here goes...

    The way I see it, we as drummers and musicians, whether aware or not, prioritise all the elements that make us up as players. Some people enjoy fast technical playing, others admire great coordination, some respond to great bass drum speed and control whilst others like simplicity etc. Perhaps most people like a combination of all of these facets of playing but it’s the way one prioritises each that makes us all different. I think in my case, my priorities have changed. While I always enjoyed a great groove, it was the fast and technical aspects of playing that really caught my imagination as a teenager. I did a lot of practice in these areas (for which I’m very grateful now), but it wasn’t until later that I really discovered the beauty, and the feeling of a great groove. Gradually, with my playing experiences, the pursuit of the groove became more and more of a priority for me eventually surpassing any technical pursuits and becoming the primary requisite for playing music. So in answer to you question, the first element in developing your groove is to genuinely LOVE it and want to go for it all the time! Now the fact that you’ve written and asked this question, and cited that that’s what you enjoy about my playing suggests that you do indeed already have the bug! You do want to pursue the groove. I know that’s all stating the obvious but having the desire to make the music feel as good as possible is a huge factor in achieving a great pocket.

    So what makes up a good feel?

    One very important aspect of a good feel is the ability to generate a strong pulse. If you listen to house music, which is basically modern day dance music, it’s dominated by a massive quarter note bass drum beat. There’s often Hi Hats and some kind of snare back beat but the music is primarily based on this driving quarter note kick. I feel this is breaking the music down to it’s absolute simplest element – a strong pulse. Now I’m not advocating that you just replicate a house beat but I’m using that music as an example to demonstrate the importance of a strong pulse.

    Every great drummer in any style of music has a strong pulse...from Steve Gadd to Tony Williams to Jimmy Cobb to Buddy Rich to David Garibaldi to Ian Paice to Phil Rudd – it’s all about pulse!

    Then there’s subdivision. I feel it’s important to develop the ability to play a variety of subdivisions which helps to pull a band together. The obvious subdivisions are straight 8ths, 16ths and swung 8ths and triplets; but then there are all the nuances in between. Check out Richie Hayward with Little Feat to see great examples of in-between playing. It comes from New Orleans. Also there’s a beautiful demonstration of holding and in-between subdivision by Bill Stewart on his Modern Drummer Festival video appearance on the Stevie Wonder tune Big Brother. Check that out!

    Another factor that influences the groove is how everyone else in the ensemble plays. People must share the same pulse and ideally the same subdivisions although it can work if the subdivisions are different. The pulse must be the same.

    So having raved on, to directly address your questions as succinctly as possible:

    I’m wondering have you worked on anything to develop playing in the pocket and that strong sense of groove?

    Without trying to sound clever, everything I’ve worked has helped me to develop playing in the pocket and a stronger sense of groove. Practicing rudiments help my stick control so I can better place the notes where I want to with the touch that I want and the volume the music demands; coordination exercises help me to be true to the pulse so that I’m not tripping up and breaking the flow of time through the music; Polyrhythmic studies give me a better sense of the space between notes and help in subdividing the pulse; and bass drum exercises like rudiments allow me to better place the notes and so on. So practicing all the usual stuff that you’re probably already doing is beneficial. What’s important is to give it all a context and that’s what you’re doing by going for a deeper groove.

    Or can you recommend anything that develops this apart from the obvious of practicing with a click/metronome?

    Practicing with a metronome or drum machine will certainly help you develop your pulse but to get better subdivisions, practice along to recordings of good bands and players. Really the best practice is doing gigs with a real band. This is where you’ll really hone your groove!

    I really hope this helps and I’m glad that you’re into the pocket. Because for me, that’s what makes music great!

    Good luck and I hope this helps.

    Cheers Gordo.


    Hi Gordo,

    I am seriously considering a drumming career and honestly don’t know where to start.

    I am not sure whether to audition at the Con, or Aus institute or if there are any other uni’s that offer drum courses?

    Do you have any Reccomendations?

    My mum sent the Con an email and about a k-12 music program which you may know of. See below:

    We do accept percussionists into the Senior School. (I assume he means senior school program)

    If you are interested in applying for an audition, the Chair of Percusssion is listening to two auditions for Semester 1, 2007 on Monday 12 February at 3:30pm. I am not sure, but I would imagine he would probably be happy to listen to another one on the day. If you want your son to apply for an audition, please fill out the attached application form and fax it back to us on 9351 1210.
    He will be expected to play a piece on mallets, timpani and snare drum. He may also be asked to complete a sightreading test”

    What do you think?

    Thanks so much mate,



    Hi Steve,

    I was under the impression that your primary interest is drum kit rather than percussion. If that’s the case then my recommendation would be to finish school where you are, and in the mean time keep studying and practicing and listening to all styles of music that you can. Then audition for all of the drum kit courses available. I’m not up with the latest on what’s around but the two places you’ve mentioned are a good start.

    The Sydney Con is primarily a jazz course which is great if you love jazz but can be a little frustrating if you want to play other styles too. Having said that, the drum kit as an instrument was born in jazz and evolved through jazz history so in my opinion, understanding the role of the drums in jazz gives your playing much more depth and credibility. I was never really a fan of jazz in before I went to the Con but I’m very grateful for having done the jazz course as I feel my playing is consequently much more rounded. I’ve since developed a love for jazz but even if you don’t, the benefits of studying jazz at the Sydney Con a wide and many!

    I have written an article for Drum Scene which outlines some of my views on tertiary study. In it I wrote, "while the qualification itself is not necessarily going to help your playing career, there are definite advantages such as the provision of an instant network of musicians, access to great knowledge, the potential to legitimise what you love to do in the eyes of others and access to practice facilities and resources that would otherwise be unattainable".

    It was as a result of making contacts in the Con that I was able to get established in the jazz scene and then later the commercial scene. So if you are going to have a go, I think enrolling in a good tertiary institution is a great idea.

    The Australian Institute of Music is an alternative. The advantage there is that it’s a contemporary music course rather than just a jazz course but I have to say, from my experience, the Conservatorium attracts a better standard of player and is therefore a much better environment in which to study albeit a jazz school.

    If it is percussion where your interests lie, then you probably need to speak to Darryl Pratt at the Sydney Con. Call the main switch and ask to be put through. He’s a great guy (and player) and can advise as to your best options. But for drum kit, the jazz course is probably the best place to go.

    One thing I should add is to not be in too much of a hurry. Try to get experience playing with good musicians. The real currency of success is how well you feel you’re playing, not how much money you make, how many gigs you’re doing or who you’ve played with!!!

    I really hope this helps. All the best in your journey. Let me know how you’re going.

    Cheers Gordo.


    hi gordon,

    my names katie, i am mark _____' step sister, he gave me your email address. i am recently back from london and a beginner drummer (x-classical pianist) i havent been home for a few years and wanted to try and set myself up with a drum kit to keep practising on. just wondering if you knew of any or the best way to get myself a half decent but not too pricy kit to muck around on.

    and then leading on from that, i was also just wondering if you gave
    lessons, and how that all worked.

    ive just started working at the basement in sydney, which is great, hard to beat london but still, funk is in my heart, so im missing london alot right now. i dont know if you know darryn farrugia, i actually met him in london where hes teaching at drumtech over there. figured as your both pretty top drummers you'd know each other. he's a top bloke.



    Hi Katie,

    Sorry for the slow reply. We're about to have a baby here and things have been chaotic lately so my apologies.

    Regarding a kit, I've recently been searching around on behalf of one of my neighbours so I'm kind of up on things. I used to suggest to people that buying a good quality pro level (good brand name) second hand kit is better than the entry level new kits. Although having recently been "in the market" I'm feeling that that may no longer be the case.....It seems that the good quality pro level second hand kits are more expensive than they used to be. Having said that, there's always a bargain somewhere if you're lucky.....try private sales in the Trading Post or Ebay. Any drum shop is going to have to factor in a profit on a second hand kit sale. But you could try Billy Hydes in Surry Hills or Drummer's Dream.

    So having discovered that, I've looked at the new entry level kits of major brands and some seem pretty good. I believe that drums are made better and more consistently than they used to be.

    So maybe check out the name brand cheaper kits such as Yamaha's Rydeen.

    I do teach although generally not on a regular basis. I tend to take on students who just want to brush up an area of their playing so they might come for 3 or 4 lessons over a couple of months and then I might not see them again for a year or so. It works out well for more advanced students as they can get specifically what they want but can come once only if that suits them and it works out well for me too because I'm not tied down to a regular time and can work my teaching around my gigs and sessions.

    I do know Darryn very well. In fact I just replied to one of his emails this morning too. He is a great player and very funny too. I'm glad he's doing well in London.

    Anyway, take care, all the best with your playing and I hope this helps in your search for a kit.

    Cheers Gordo.


    Hi Gordon,

    Just checking out your setup on your homepage. I have a question in regards to the mini-hts you are using. It states that you use 12" AAX hats. Do sabian make mini-hats in the aax range? I thought they only made mini-hats in the AA series? Actually trying to chase some 12" hats myself and I cannot find anything in the AAX or HHX range.

    Thanks for your help. Ben.


    Hi Ben,

    Sorry for the slow reply. We're about to have a baby here and things have been chaotic lately so my apologies as usual.

    I’m afraid you’re aboslutely correct. My 12 inch hats are indeed AA not AAX as it says on the website. Again my apologies. You do have a very keen eye! They sound great by the way!

    Thanks for your email.

    All the best,

    Cheers Gordo.


    Hi Gordon,

    Thanks for the reply. Just one other question, i've been trying to video-analyse Buddy Rich's drum solos, particularly his video 'at the top'. It's so hard to comprehend due to his incredible speed. I'm just wondering what chops he most predominately used? Was it a combination/mixture of extended paradiddles?

    Lately, i've been practicing the solo 'Buddy" from Frank Corniola's 'rudiments and motions' book. Is this a good portrayal of what Buddy most often used around the snare? It seems he does much more than just double stroke triplets. I've also heard from various drummers that there is an instructional video available that breaks down Buddy's solos, but I'm unsure what it is called.

    Thanks. Ben.


    Hi Ben,

    I guess if you accept that paradiddles and their extensions are combinations of single and double strokes, then you could say that Buddy used mainly “extended paradiddles” but he really used a variety of stickings and hand/foot combinations when he played.

    There are many DVDs of him playing but I’m not sure of a video that breaks down his stuff. If you search the Buddy Rich fan sites I’m sure something would exist by way of an instructional video with someone breaking down some of Buddy’s patterns. There is, however a great book called “Buddy Rich: Jazz Legend 1917-1987 : Transcriptions and Analysis of the World's Greatest Drummer”. This is a great publication and they’ve gone to a lot of trouble to examine Buddy’s playing in great depth. The book has transcriptions of Buddy solos and highlights many of his more often used licks and then breaks them down. I highly recommend it if you’re trying to work out what Buddy played. The book is a fantastic resource.

    I think that solo in Frank's book is not necessarily based on typical Buddy stickings. It’s more a “tribute in the spirit of Buddy” rather than an actual combination of his stickings. Still, that’s a great book and you’ll get a lot out of studying those solos – particularly that one!

    Hope this helps.

    All the best,

    Cheers Gordo.


    Hi Gordon,

    just a couple of questions. In regards to the sabian artisan vault 22" medium and 20" artisan light rides, do you use natural or brilliant finishes and why? And also, just wondering if you ever do any session work for Hillsong in Sydney?

    Thanks. Ben.


    Hi Ben,

    When I’m playing Jazz, I use natural finish Vault rides because I feel that the sound is a little darker and warmer which seems to blend better with acoustic instruments. It just feels and sounds more organic I guess. For other types of music, like Rock, where I have to cut through electric guitar and bass, I use brighter cymbals. I haven’t actually tried any Vault cymbals in a brilliant finish as yet. For most electric music I use a 19” AAX Metal Crash as a Ride! On the current Australian Idol run I’m using a 22” AAX Ride which is working really well in covering a lot of styles. It has a clear stick definition that cuts through but there aren’t too many overtones so it just sits in the mix beautifully.

    I’ve not yet performed either live or recorded for Hillsong although it is only five minutes from where I live. Maybe one day.

    Thanks for the questions. Hope that answers them OK.

    Best regards.

    Cheers Gordo.


    Hi Gordon,

    I've just come across a copy of this DVD, and really enjoyed your playing. I'm in the process of choosing a new acoustic kit and, like you, love Yamaha drums. Your set up on the DVD seems very neat and compact. I was wondering if you can remember what the tom sizes were? I can't make up my mind if they were 8/10/14 or 10/12/14. What ever they were the tone you achieved form them was lovely. Deep, thick and short on resonance.

    All the best

    Martyn (UK)


    Hi Martyn,

    Thanks for the kind words; I'm glad you enjoyed my playing. For memory, the kit I used at the UDW 2002 was supplied by Yamaha. It was an Oak Custom which was a fairly new model at the time. The sizes were 8", 10" and 14" with a 22" Kick drum. I've since moved up to a 10", 12", 14" set up as standard, I had been using the 8" for many years prior to that and moved up to the 10" not long after. I'm glad you liked the sound too because I recall there being very little time spent on any mix. So what you're hearing is pretty much real as it went down. But that is the beauty of Yamaha drums - they sound like a studio recording even in the room.

    Hope this helps. Thanks for your question and good luck with your new kit.

    All the best, cheers Gordo.


    hey Gordo,

    quick message. What china cymbal did you use with that Adrian Cunningham gig at the seymore centre last year? Still recall it, and want that sound.




    Hi Steve,

    I can't remember accurately that far back but my guess is that it was one of two possibilities.

    If it was a crash type China, I was probably using a 19" PARAGON CHINESE CRASH - that's the Neil Peart designed one. If a it was more of a China that you'd ride on, it was most likely 20" HHX THIN CHINESE with about 3 rivets in it.

    Is that the gig on Adrian's live DVD?

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers Gordo.


    Matt from Perth here. Really enjoy your groove...

    Just with regard to playing a shuffle...

    I have been playing and listening to blues for a while and have noticed that different drummers approach their shuffles in different ways. Specifically what i have noticed is that there are some players (even local players here in Perth Rick Whittle/Rick eastman) who at times seem to be playing slightly in front of the beat placing their strokes i.e. 3rd triplet note in the shuffle sequence (with the second triplet not played) slighty closer to the next triplet note in the sequence (the first note of the next triplet). It gives the shuffle almost a rushed/driving feel but generally sounds very precise. Perhaps this is just a figment of my imagination but it sounds different to my shuffle (i think). I tend to play on top of the beat however it sounds a little pedestrian at times. The best recorded example i can think of is Robben Ford - Tired of Talkin (album: handful of blues drummer: Tom bretchlein) I hope i havent confused you but i am just interested to know if you have had any thoughts on the idea.


    Matt C


    Hi Matt,

    Great question! I do find that trying to analyse the essence of what makes a beat groove better is often a futile task. By that I mean you can conclude a groove will feel better for certain reasons and then you'll hear someone come along and break all your deduced "rules" and play a groove that's totally killing!

    To explain that further, I believe that there really are no rules. What makes a groove work in one situation won't necessarily work in another. For instance if your bass player is playing shorter notes, (or longer notes for that matter), copying the shuffle of your favourite drummer might night work in your situation because he or she was playing with a different bass player. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that where you place each note, (or how you approach any of the infinite variables in playing a beat), depends on outside factors such as the combination of players you're playing with, the sound in the room, the sound of your drums, whether there's more stuff to go on top etc.

    So I would start with a view to creating a sense of forward motion. I feel that the key to do this is to lay down a strong quarter note pulse with the back beat accented on beats 2 and 4. When it comes time to add the shuffle notes, (ie the third note of the triplet), I'd place them so as to average out where everyone in the ensemble is playing it. If everyone is playing it in completely different places, I'd probably play it at a very light dynamic if at all.

    Now all of this sounds very analytical - it's a very cerebral approach. But eventually adapting your groove becomes instinctive such that you'll automatically adjust your beat placement, internal dynamics, degree of pushiness or how you lay back etc according to what's going on around you. Having said that I think it is fruitful to analyse rhythmically what's going on in words to try to understand how things work however ultimately you have to just PLAY IT HOW IT FEELS BEST at the time!

    Good question. I really hope this helps.

    Cheers Gordo.


    Hello Gordon.

    I saw Aus Idol big band night and was blown away by that cooking groove you had going in "Single ladies" for Stan Walker. Could you please supply a transcription of that. It sounds sort of like a layered New Orleans groove with that distinctive off beat 1/8th note cymbal locking it all in. Simply awesome!




    Hi Paul, Thanks for that. It's nice to know people are listening.

    Here's what was written on the chart:

    I took the kick drum pattern from the first bar and just played that rather than the written pattern above. On the snare I played a series of slightly swung eighth notes. That really is the key I think; the degree to which you swing the eighths. It's somewhere in between straight and triplets. The best way to cop the feel is to immerse yourself in New Orleans music or better still, go there. The main pattern I played was basically (as Harry Connick mentioned), ripped off the classic Meters' tune "Hey Pocky A-way" with a few variations as below:

    Then when the chart moved up a gear I introduced the off beat bell as follows.

    There are also variations such as pair of ghosted sixteenth notes starting on the "& of 1" as in the third bar below:

    I think it's less about WHAT is being played and more about HOW it's being played. 

    I hope this helps.

    All the best and thanks for writing.

    Double click the picture above to hear what Harry Connick had to say about Stan Walker's Big Band version of "Single Ladies".