playing the rimsI remember the first months of my drum studies. I was astonished when I was allowed to play something on the drum set. When my teacher left the room for a few minutes, I even dared to hit all of the five cymbals.

As I was going into raptures over my experiences with these cymbals, my older drumming friend pointed out that in a few months I will wish that I had more and more and more.

Not quite surprisingly, what he has said turned out to be right. It was not vain that pushed me into buying more cymbals – it was a pressure towards being able to play more and more sounds.

How to Play the Rims of Drums?

There are two basic strokes which involve contact between the drum stick and the rim of a certain drum. The first is what we call rim shots: in the case of these, the tip of the drum stick hits the drum head while the shoulder of the drum stick hits the rim of the drum at the same time. This stroke yields a very powerful sound, an emphasized version of the basic stroke.

The other kind of stroke involving the rim yields a very subtle sound, resembling no more than a simple click: in this case you only hit the rim of the drum, the drum head remains untouched. Since we are going to talk about Latin beats here, the latter is the one which we are going to discuss.

When to Play the Rims?

As long as you do not fall out of the time signature that you are playing in, filling your time with rim strokes is an idea that might turn out to be more useful than what it first seems to be. Playing the standard combination of bass drum, snare drum and closed hi-hats or the ride cymbal has a well-known pulsation.

Similarly, playing drum fills at their full volume yields a rather obtrusive sound. However, if you would like to stay in the background with a groove that still is interesting you might want to transfer your whole beat to the rims.

To exemplify what I have just said, let us just mention introductions and bridges during a sounds or playing along to different instrumental solos. These are all moments when the heavy pulsation of the drums might become unwanted but it still cannot be removed entirely.

Latin music is known for its richness when it comes to different percussion instruments. These instruments – like the clave – are all at the root of what we consider today Latin music. By playing the rims of the toms instead of their heads, you can replace the full-blown obtrusive sound of theirs with a simple, wooden tick that might even resemble the original sound of different Latin percussions.

Will My Drum Sticks Suffer Too Much?

It depends – that is probably the most accurate answer. In most situations we play almost everything using traditional drum sticks. The firmness of these can easily lead to observable damage when they meet with the metal rims of the drums.

However, you do not have to hit the rims like a hammer if your goal is no more than creating wonderful sounds. Let us take a look at other types of drum sticks: while brushes are too soft to play the rims properly, rods might actually be the best choice for this style of playing.

Since rods are made up of a number of (usually bamboo) sticks, they are not as rigid as traditional drum sticks but they are still stiff enough to make the rims sound. If you want to play the rims of your drums but do not want to ruin a pair of drum sticks every half an hour, your best bet is using rods.



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