Punk Drumming Lessons

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Punk Drumming Lessons - Live Drum Lesson #13

In this live drum lesson, Jared and Dave talk about punk drumming. They teach 5 different popular punk rock beats, give some tips on speed, as well as play some punk drum covers. These punk drum covers include, Blink 182 "Feeling This", Green Day "Basket Case", and The Offspring "Kids Aren't Alright". Also, Dave takes a shot at playing Dream Theater’s Panic Attack.

What Makes a Song Punk?

The lyrics on the original punk songs were what gave this style its name, because of their highly political content. There has been a lot of punk in history. From the Ramones, Iggy Pop and The Clash to some more pop-punk bands like Green Day, blink-182 and Sum 41. However, all of these bands have something in common, high energy when playing, which is what punk is really all about.

Most of the beats played in punk drumming are just basic rock beats, but played with lots of energy and at a higher speed. Whether you want to learn this style or just want to be able to keep time with your favorite punk songs, the foundation will be the same, the standard quarter note or eighth note rock drum beat. You can learn these two beats in the Beginner section of this website. The quarter note beat is teached by Mike Michalkow in the lesson – Learn to Play Drums - and the eighth note beat by Jared Falk, in the lesson – How to Play Drums. So, you can learn this two beats and apply them to your everyday punk drumming. These are not hard beats, but when you play them with a lot of energy, like the one displayed by drummers of the likes of Tré Cool from Green Day and Travis Barker of blink-182, the beats get more exciting and really seem more difficult than they really are.

For this lesson, we have five stereotypical beats to share with you. However, don’t forget that there are much more beats that can be applied to punk. You can also check the Punk Rock Drum Beats on the Rock Drum Lessons section of this site, for more ideas for this style of drumming.

Punk Beats

Beat #1

Punk Drumming Beat #1

The standard eighth note rock beat, may give you trouble if you are just starting out on the drums, because of the eighth notes on the hi-hat. Hence, with this first beat, we cut the time in half in the hi-hat, and instead of eighth notes, we play quarter notes with the hats opened a little bit. This is a simple beat, with the kick drum being played on the 1 and on the AND of 3, and the snare drum on 2 and 4.

Beat #2

Punk Drumming Beat #2

This is pretty much the same thing as beat #1; you are just going to add an extra bass drum on 3. This is one of the most overused punk rock beats in history. When you get at a really high tempo with this one, the kicks on the 3 and on the AND of 3 are played really fast. You can use a double bass pedal for this, but you can also use a single pedal using the slide technique or the heel-toe, to achieve the same effect of fast doubles.

There is a video teaching both the slide and the heel-toe on the Live Lessons section of this website. We will talk a little bit more about this subject on the foot speed and double pedals section of this overview.

Beat #3

Punk Drumming Beat #3

In this beat you alternate the lead hand with the bass drum foot. There are snare hits on 2 and 4. This beat would be more suitable for a bridge section of a song.

Beat #4

Punk Drumming Beat #4

It is almost the same as beat #3 but with the snare and hi-hat being played at the same time on all four counts. Make sure the hi-hat is open. Besides the hi-hat, you can use other cymbals instead.

Beat #5

Punk Drumming Beat #5

For an added challenge, try to play this beat with eighth notes on the hi-hat.

These 5 beats are more for beginner players. If you have been playing punk for a while, you might be working on speed by now. Therefore, let’s see some tips on speed for hands and feet.

Speed Around the Kit

There are lots of songs were the drummers are going fast around the toms. To practice these types of fast movements, you can play groups of four hits randomly around the whole kit. You can also do the same in groups of six or eight hits. This exercise has musical applications, so try to play it with a beat. This is a very important exercise for punk drumming and fits really good in the realm of this style, musically speaking.

Foot Speed and Double Pedals

In beat #2, we started to talk a little about this topic. As was stated, you can play fast doubles with either a double pedal or using a single pedal with the slide technique or heel-toe.

Having a double pedal and being able to use it when you want it to, is great. So when you can, get a double bass pedal. Both Jared and Dave feel that buying a drum kit without a double bass pedal is like buying a car with a tape player. Even if you don’t need to consistently use a double pedal, there will be times were you will want to use it. You can use it in other styles besides heavy-metal, like funk and even jazz. So, with that said, just make sure you practice both feet equally, don’t neglect your single foot speed. When Dave was starting on the drums, he ended up practicing and playing fast doubles with a double pedal, instead of working on his single pedal speed. Then, when he got to drum sets with only a single pedal, he saw himself limited to a certain speed. So, he had to break away from the double pedal and practice his single pedal technique. It is very rewarding to be able to play fast doubles with only one foot; it is something you should strive for.

With four of the five beats, you will have to develop your single bass pedal speed. To do so, one of these two techniques can help you achieve that, the slide and the heel-toe.
With the slide technique, you start half way down the pedal pressing it down for the first hit. Afterwards, you slide the foot up the pedal to do a second hit. This is a technique that takes time to learn. Start it slow and always play it as fast as you can with it still sounding good. When you start sounding sloppy, that is when your technique is going all off.

Once again, remember to check the Live Lesson - Slide Technique vs. Heel-Toe in the Live Lessons section of this website, for further detail on the slide technique and to learn the heel-toe.

Weaker Hand Speed

There are many things you can do to improve the speed of your weaker hand. The first exercise you can practice is doing single strokes with your weaker hand leading and accenting all eighth notes. Even when you are not on the kit, you can play this same exercise on your legs, for instance. There are other things you can do when you are not on the kit which will help you to increase your weaker hand’s strength. Start using your weaker hand when brushing your teeth, when using your computer’s mouse and when you are eating, using it to perform all the tasks of the stronger hand. Nevertheless, the best thing you can do to increase, speed, stamina and control with your weaker hand, is to use it as your leading hand while playing on the kit. This will be very difficult at first, but give it time and you will see an overall increase in performance, not to mention independence.

As you can see, increasing your weaker hand speed is just a matter of overworking it, or at least work it as much as your right hand.


If you are playing a punk song, it is great to do some showmanship stuff, without even needing to do fancy stick tricks. Travis Barker is a good example of this. He plays with lots of energy and with lots of emotion. So, even though he may not be playing the most insane beats, with his way of playing and feeling the music, it becomes a lot cooler to watch. Therefore, if you want to spice up your playing, put some emotion to it, it will give a whole different dimension to the music you are playing, it will make it feel completely different to the watcher, just because you seem to put a lot more emotion to it.

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