So Many Books, So Little Time
If you’re trying to up your drum chops, you’re probably looking for the best drum books. With so many choices, it can be difficult.
The Best Drum Books
The best drum books include the following 10 based on ratings, reviews, and personal experience:
There’s Always More To Books
With all those titles, you’d probably wanna know what each one actually goes over. Let’s look at that and talk about what other drummers have said about these books!
The Best Drum Books Deep Dive
1. The Language of Drumming: A System of Musical Expression by Benny Greb
The Language of Drumming by Benny Greb is one of the a best books to take your drum set skills to some of the most creatively expressive levels!
This book includes and expands on concepts in his best-selling DVD and it really provides a ton of practice material.
Whether for different styles of music, advanced drummers or any beginner drummer, there is a complete system for achieving freedom of expression on the drum kit.
Benny’s approach to drumming is based on the familiar concept of language learning, offering practical exercises for grooves, fills, independence, and other techniques.
The system starts with foundational rhythmic “letters” and “words” and progresses to more advanced “syntax” and “language,” making it accessible for drummers at any level.
Throughout the learning process, the system introduces new hi-hat groove variations, ghost-note exercises, and a comprehensive method for mastering odd groupings in your playing, including 3, 5, and 7.
Additionally, this comprehensive package includes online audio and video for convenient streaming or download. It is 96 pages long and includes tons of exercises to keep you busy practicing.
Drummers have said this is one of the best drumming books and really lays out a framework and mindset you can adapt to build your drumming vocabulary up!
They also like that it complements their sense of time and it’s straightforward enough to implement concepts right away. A complaint I’ve heard is about the access code to the follow-along videos not being included with the book.
Benny Greb is a professional drummer who lays out everything in this book in solid progressive steps. If you’re looking for a great place to start for discovering your drumming voice, this is the perfect book.
I had to include this at the top because Benny is really a great drummer and I’ve been able to use his teachings to discover more about my own playing and build a more solid foundation.
I think the test of time won’t affect the impact of the teachings available here, as it’s one of the best drum books any drummer could have in their arsenal.
- Great framework for creativity
- A compliment to your sense of time
- Potential problem with code not being included (I didn’t have this issue)
2. Exploring Your Creativity on the Drumset by Mark Guiliana
This great book by Mark Guiliana gives a comprehensive system that offers a solution to creativity problems. The book is based on a system called D.R.O.P.: Dynamics, Rate, Orchestration, and Phrasing.
Mark takes apart each of these building blocks individually, presenting rhythmic concepts that will allow you to access different rhythmic rates and subdivisions with ease, move them around the drum kit freely, and ultimately use them to create exciting and complex phrases that sound like “polyrhythms” and “metric modulations.”
These concepts are based on a solid foundation of drumming basics that will give you the confidence to develop your own unique style on the drumset.
In addition to the book, this package includes live footage of Mark playing with two of his longtime collaborators, Tim Lefebvre (bass) and Jason Lindner (keys).
These three musicians have played together for years and recently formed the rhythm section for David Bowie’s final album, Blackstar.
You can watch Mark interact with these world-class musicians in both electric and acoustic settings as they apply his concepts in inspiring performances.
The book also comes with a code that provides access to online video content for convenient download. Additionally, the book is 88 pages long.
Drummers have said this book offers a great opportunity to be able to improve your musical IQ and how to master writing your own drum sheet music that is uniquely yours.
It also really helps with your timing and improv as a drummer. A complaint I’ve heard is that there are not too many practical examples included.
I have this book and it’s opened up my playing in different ways. It’s got a great introduction that keeps you hooked and wanting to push forward with realizing your drum chops.
I feel like one of the best ways we can push past our drumming plateaus is getting better with our sight reading, improv, and timing, which is what is discussed in this book. This is one of the best drum books I own.
- Great opportunity to improve musical IQ
- Master writing your own drum notation
- Too many practical examples
3. Stick Control: For the Snare Drummer by George Lawrence Stone
Whether you are playing on the practice pad or your drum kit, Stick Control is a book that I’d recommend you, especially with equalizing your hands with rudiments.
This book, by George Lawrence Stone is a classic and teaches drummers everything from tough, control, and speed, to developing your weak hand.
The book was recognized by Modern Drummer magazine in 1993 as one of the top 25 books of all time.
The author describes it as the perfect tool for drummers seeking to enhance their “control, speed, flexibility, touch, rhythm, lightness, delicacy, power, endurance, preciseness of execution, and muscular coordination,” with particular emphasis on strengthening the non-dominant hand.
This comprehensive guide for drummers of all genres features a wide range of rhythms, progressing from basic to advanced levels. It covers single-beat combinations, triplets, short roll combinations, flam beats, flam triplets, dotted notes, and short roll progressions.
Drummers have said this has helped them form good habits and it’s easy to follow. Many drummers have had this book their whole career and are retired now, but give thanks to this book for becoming better drummers. This is arguably one of the best drum books out there (and most popular). A complaint I’ve seen is the lack of exciting exercises.
I have this book and am always stick working through it. There are a lot of unorthodox exercises that’ll get you thinking differently about the way you create drum parts.
This is one of the first books that I’d recommend to newer drummers, but it’s perfect for drummers of all skill levels and it offers a great way to up your chops through various exercises.
- Form great habits as a drummer
- This has been a really popular book for a long time
- Lack of exciting exercises
4. 4-Way Coordination by Marvin Dahlgren and Elliot Fine
The ability to excel as a drummer has traditionally relied on superior manual dexterity. Nevertheless, with the advent of contemporary drumming methods, it has become more and more imperative to acquire absolute autonomy of both hands and feet.
By employing a range of rhythmic drills presented in clear notation, 4-Way Coordination aims to lead drummers from basic patterns to intricate polyrhythms.
By studying this instructional material, students will develop valuable listening abilities and techniques that offer new perspectives on drumming across all genres.
Drummers have said this book really helps you to break barriers in your limb independence and that your can really see more fluidity in your drumming. Many have considered this one of the best drum books on limb independence drumming.
A complaint I’ve heard is that there isn’t a lot that in the exercises that are really applicable in real playing scenarios. It’s almost just a system for coordination for the sake of coordination.
I have gone through samples of this book and I think it’s got a pretty solid arsenal of beneficial exercises to pull inspiration from.
- Break barriers in limb independence
- More fluidity in your drumming
- Lack of exercises for real playing scenarios
5. New Breed by Gary Chester
This book called New Breed by Gary Chester comes from Modern Drummer’s list of publications and is another one that is powerful for your drum chops.
Gary Chester was an in-demand session drummer during the 1960s and 1970s, lending his skills to numerous chart-topping records. Renowned drummers like Kenny Aronoff, Danny Gottlieb, and Dave Weckl have endorsed his techniques.
Rather than a run-of-the-mill drumming manual, his system aims to equip aspiring musicians with the skills necessary to excel in today’s studio environment.
The exercises are more than just mere drills; they serve as a means of generating innovative musical concepts that can be adapted to suit any genre.
Using this book, you’ll enhance your abilities in reading music, concentration, coordination, playing with either hand, and sensitivity to the metronome. Additionally, the revised edition features access to an online interview with Chester.
Drummers have said this book is wonderful for extending your ‘vocab’ behind the drums and that it’s very effective for students looking to improve their creative awareness of the drums.
A complaint I’ve heard about this book is that the exercises are catered to those with larger, extensive drum sets.
I have a sample of this book on my books app and have gone through a few exercises. I haven’t focused on this exclusively, but I can tell there are a lot of helpful exercises for building your creativity.
- Wonderful for extending your vocab behind the kit
- Very effective for improving creative awareness
- Exercises seem catered to those with larger kits, like Gary Chester
6. Advanced Techniques for the Modern Drummer by Jim Chapin
Jim Chapin is a pioneer jazz drummer and also known as the “Father of Jazz Independence.” This book is one of the most popular drumming method books of all time.
Every drummer, regardless of their skill level, can benefit from having this timeless masterpiece in their collection. This exceptional book offers endless opportunities to acquire new knowledge and refine your drumming techniques.
The system is designed to enhance your coordination, sticking, power, speed, and stamina on the drum kit, promoting greater independence and finesse.
Regardless of your experience level, this system has the potential to elevate your drumming skills to the next level.
Drummers have said this book has been the key in developing their limb independence for jazz drumming and that the exercises are versatile enough to provide an endless amount of possibilities.
A complaint I’ve heard is that the notation included throughout the book may be a bit difficult to read (maybe not printed clear enough).
I always see this book when I go into different music stores. I’ve never owned it, but I have learned a lot through Jim Chapin via Youtube. He knew what he was talking about and this book will help your chops. This is probably one of the best drum books a jazz drummer can get!
- Key in developing limb independence for Jazz and many other styles of music
- Versatile exercises provide endless amount of opportunities
- Print not clear for the notation and is difficult to read
7. Master Studies by Joe Morello
Joe Morello’s Master Studies is an extraordinary drum method book, regarded as a classic among only a handful of others.
According to Morello’s preface, this book is not a typical “how-to” guide. Instead, it is a collection of exercises designed to help drummers develop the necessary skills for controlling and accenting different pressures in single strokes, double strokes, and closed rolls.
Morello emphasizes that the ideas presented in this book can be applied to any musical style and can be used in conjunction with any technique the reader may have been taught.
The chapters are divided into topics such as control studies, accenting, buzz rolls, stroke combinations, ostinatos, fill-ins, and flams.
The second volume is a natural continuation of the first, providing additional material for developing the hands.
Morello clarifies that while some of the exercises can be played on a drumset, this is not a drumset or coordination book.
The exercises can be utilized by classical, jazz, rock, or even rudimental drummers. Many drummers have said this book really helps with technique (regardless of different techniques) and that it offers a real fundamental way of learning control as a drummer.
A complaint I’ve heard is this book not being expansive enough for more advanced drummers. This is another book that I’ve seen a TON, but never purchased.
Joe Morello is another drummer I’ve watched several videos on, however. He is solid and always offers a lot of material in his teachings. He’s also got some of the best drum books on jazz drumming.
- Helps different techniques
- Offers real fundamental way of learning control as a drummer
- Book not expansive enough for more advanced drummers
8. Art of Bop Drumming by John Riley
If you are looking for the definitive book on bop drumming, look no further than with this book. Contemporary music’s evolution hinges on bop as a pivotal style.
The book and audio package offers an immersive combination of written material, music, and relevant quotes that delves into crucial jazz concepts such as timing, accompaniment, improvisation, brush technique, and other essentials, along with charts.
Drummers have said this book is a staple in learning and training yourself to play jazz. I’ve also heard it’s a valuable challenge in honing your freedom as a drummer.
A complaint I’ve heard is about the last section of the book being a bit confusing, as there is no guidance on how to interpret it.
I’ve not purchased this book, but this is another one I see all the time. I’ve always heard mostly great reviews about it and I know it’s popular because it continues to show up.
- Simple in learning and training yourself to play jazz
- Also a valuable challenge in honing your freedom as a drummer
- Last section of book may be confusing
9. The Sound of Brushes by Ed Thigpen
The Sound of Brushes is perfect for jazz drummers and even those who’d like to branch out and have an essential guide for brush playing. This book is a step-by-step guide that will help you master the art of brush playing.
This new edition has been updated and includes a section for rock applications, plus more brush-stroke techniques!
Ed Thigpen’ in-depth approach includes all the patterns shown with full-size diagrams and CDs with every pattern, beat, and play-along track.
Drummers have said the material is presented really well in this book and it also helps to push your brush work to the next level.
A complaint I’ve heard is that Ed could slow down in explaining/playing some of the exercises. I have not personally purchased this book, but it has always kind of been in the back of my mind.
I don’t play brushes really that much, but this could be a great area in my own drumming to tackle!
- Material presented really well
- Will help push your brushwork to the next level
- There could be more explanation and slower showcasing some of the exercises
10. Afro-Cuban Rhythms for Drumset by Frank Malabe and Bob Weiner
If you’re in for learning a different style of drums, I’d recommend this book! This book is an intro to Afro-Cuban rhythms, including traditional instruments, the history, and basic styles of Afro-Cuban music.
The book delves into the intricacies of different styles, presenting the information in a straightforward and easy-to-grasp manner.
Those looking to incorporate these rhythms into their drumming will find the accompanying audio to be an essential resource.
It is 64 pages long. Drummers have said this is the real deal when it comes to evolving your Afro-Cuban and Latin music drum chops.
There is also a lot to learn in it. A complaint I’ve heard is that the book goes too in depth. I do not own this book, but it is one I want to dive into.
I know I could benefit from attaining a firm grasp on those styles of drumming. Any style will always further your drum progression.
- Will help you dominate Afro-Cuban and Latin music chops
- A lot to learn in this book
- The book may go too in depth
So Many To Choose From Still
So, these are the best drum books. There are so many more out there and this list is not the only exclusive one. I encourage you to go see what else is out there and how you can get better as a drummer and musician.
Let Me Know Your Favorite Drum Book!
What are your thoughts? What are your best drum books? Anything I didn’t mention? Let me know in the comments below! Also, feel free to ask me any questions.
Want to know how I DOUBLED my hand speed by just using a few simple techniques?!
Until next time, stay attuned!