Double Stroke Roll Vs Buzz Roll: How To Play These Drum Rudiments

By Evan C

Hot And Fresh Rolls

When learning drum rudiments, the double stroke roll vs buzz roll conversation may come up. It’s not uncommon to wonder about the differences between the two.

Roll Call

Double Stroke Roll Vs Buzz Roll Explained!

A double stroke roll entails a roll with two strokes per hand alternating (right right left left, etc), while a buzz roll has multiple strokes per hand alternating.

Double strokes, also known as an open roll, are used a lot in rudimentary solos and with marching drummers.

Buzz rolls, also known as a closed roll or press roll, are used a lot in concert percussion and in building up from an open to a closed roll.

So Many Different Ones

You may be wondering what any of that meant and I understand. Let’s dive into how each differs/compares and how you can use them to spice up any drum fill! Drum roll please..

Rudimental Drumming

Enjoy this free drum lesson of a double stroke roll vs buzz roll.

When you think of a snare drum, the first thing you think of is a roll (usually). This could be a blazing fast single stroke roll (right hand, left hand, repeat), multiple bounce roll or bounce stroke.

There are a few different rolls where individual strokes with each hand may vary.

A double stroke roll and a buzz roll differ a lot in sound and also number of strokes. With double strokes, you stick bounces twice per hand and you just alternate (rr ll rr ll rr ll).

There is a very open sound because the pattern is repeated. The number of bounces remain the same.

With a buzz roll, it’s a much more closed sound. There are an undefined number of bounces as you alternate between your right and left hand.

There may be a little bit of fulcrum pressure to attain a tighter, ‘closed’ sound and you’ll end up with several buzzes per hand. A short buzz roll can sometimes be called a crush roll.

With a double-stroke roll, you’re working on getting every drum stroke as even as possible. As you get faster, you want the double bounce between each hand to sound and feel identical.

Double Stroke Roll pyramid
Double Stroke Roll Exercise

A good way get started with double stroke rolls and also build speed start with a quarter note and alternate right stick and left stick.

Change to eighth notes when you feel comfortable. We’re just diving deeper into the subdivisions (subdividing notes as you’ll notice more note stem as we get faster).

The note value is increasing and you’re getting faster! Once you’re comfortable with the 8th note pace, increase to 16th notes (doubling the previous).

We are working on our individual strokes while we build up speed. 32nd notes are next up and these can be fast. You’ll start with a full stroke with slower speeds and eventually be playing closer to the drum head the faster you get.

I also recommend practicing with a metronome and going to faster tempos as you feel comfortable. You should never abandon your metronome and take your time getting the ‘feel’ right before increasing tempos.

You’ll want to apply that same logic to buzz rolls, but you are just working on getting the most amount of buzz per stroke.

Buzz roll exercise
Buzz Roll Exercise

Start slow and use the fulcrum point (natural balance point) and let your right stick drop and bounce as much as possible on your snare drum or pad.

The next step is to do the same with your left stick. Make sure you have a relaxed grip on your sticks.

From there, you can practice with a metronome (increasing speed when comfortable) and also doing the 8th and 16th note subdivision exercise.

With a buzz roll, you’re just trying to get it as buzzy sounding as possible, but right and left hand alterations (RLRL) still need to have a continuous fluid sound as you buzz.

You may notice you have to press more firmly on the stick as you get faster. This is normal and you should still try to stay as relaxed as you can.

relaxed drumming

Deep breaths in and out and the right posture will help you! I’m not a medical expert, but it’s helped me. 🥁 👍🏻

We mentioned the single stroke roll and this is more popular then the double because it can be easier to manage.

You are also just alternating hands and there is one stroke per hand (RLRL, etc), like the buzz roll, but without buzz.

To get better with single stroke rolls, you can practice the same way as I mentioned above. If you feel your weaker hand is holding you back, you can isolate it and work on it twice as much during practice. Try to stay relaxed!

This applies to every aspect of our drumming and not just the double stroke roll vs buzz roll. This way of thinking/practicing also transitions to multiple percussion instruments.

Continuous practice is the only way we can build our stick control. Also, don’t be afraid of using your back fingers.

They are just making sure the stick doesn’t fly out of your hand, but you can use them, especially with single stroke rolls, to attain faster speeds with less effort.

Drummers like Thomas Lang are so well-practiced, that they can flawlessly switch between their hands and feet (from the bass drum to the floor tom, crash cymbal, other drums/cymbals, etc.), doing different roll rudiments and non-roll rudiments.

Floating drums

This guy can literally play paradiddles and double strokes as smooth with his feet as he can with his hands!

Common Uses:

There isn’t really a hard set rule for how to use these rolls. I’ve used both double strokes and buzz rolls behind in drums in different contexts.

I think the open sound of double stroke rolls sound great, but I also love buzz rolls. Nothing beats that buzz roll for the Star Spangled Banner.

It just adds more to the piece of music. I personally always liked double stroke rolls for marching band too. The snare heads are so tight that when you play them fast enough, they sound like an automatic rifle. It’s pretty cool!

It’s a good idea to become familiar with these two different rolls and also rudiments in general.

I did want to mention you may hear of open, closed, open within drumming and that is when you start slow with a roll and get faster gradually and then reduce speed.

Some Other Rudiments:

A triple stroke roll is similar to the double stroke roll, but the only difference is there are three strokes per hand before alternating (RRR LLL RRR LLL). I’m honestly still always working on these. They sound really cool up to speed.

Triple Stroke Roll
Half a measure of a triple stroke roll

A single paradiddle is almost a little hybrid of a single stroke roll and a double stroke roll (RLRR LRLL). This rudiment takes time and also one I’m still working on. I’m not afraid to admit I’ll always be chipping away at my weaknesses.

There are 40 drum rudiments and they are so vital to being able to express ourselves as drummers with the most freedom! I won’t delve into them here, but will make other posts about them.

Single paradiddle
Half a measure of a single paradiddle

The Differences Are There

So, as you can see there are some differences between the double stroke roll vs buzz roll. They both have their wide uses and nothing is off limits with you creativity. Find out what sounds good to you and go with it!

Keep Learning Those Rolls

How do you feel about these rolls? Which one is your favorite and are you having any issues trying to get them where you want them? Trust me, I know how you feel! Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear your experiences.

Want FREE drum hacks to help your drum chops foundation and get you on the right track?

Get those by clicking here.

Until next time, stay attuned!

-Evan C.

About the author

Hi there, I'm Evan and I love drums.. Also, I love music! I've been playing drums for most of my life and nothing beats the thrill I get from it. I hope to be able to provide you with insightful tips and reviews on things within the drum and music world!

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