What Is A Ghost Note On Drums? How To Use Them To Drum BETTER!

By Evan C

The More You Drum, The More You Learn!

If you’ve started drumming recently, you may be wondering, what is a ghost note on drums? Whether you just started or are just encountering this, let’s get into it.

What is a ghost note on drums? It is a quiet note in between regular or accented notes.

I Ain’t Afraid Of No Ghost

A ghost note on drums is a soft and barely audible note played between two louder, more prominent notes.

These soft notes are often used to create complex rhythms and give depth to a drummer’s playing style.

Ghost notes are often used by drummers in all genres of music, from rock and pop to jazz and funk. They can add an extra layer of fullness in any drum groove.

A bar of 8th note ghost notes

Ghosts Everywhere

It may be confusing considering a ghost note guitar (on fretting hand and for bass guitar) notation exists, as well as other instruments that use them and they can mean sort of different things.

We’re going to dive into these quiet notes, how to incorporate ghost notes, as well as some other tips and tricks that’ll help you out!

A Look Into What Is A Ghost Note On Drums!

In this drum lesson, we’re talking about ghost notes! What is a ghost note on drums?

8th Note Triplet Beats – Using our weak hand to add depth with ghost notes

Well, ghost notes are pretty cool! In music theory, a ghost note should be soften or muted when played. The same pretty much applies with drums.

You have your regular note (or loud notes that may be accented) and then you have your quiet notes. However, a ghost note is a distinct note and can really give a lot of rhythmic value and are popular with any drummer doing a lot of complex drum beats or drum fills.

Although, we can also have simple grooves use them and it’s one of the best ways to add the right amount of oomph.

So, complexity is neat, but why use them? We use them because they make you a better drummer. They sound cool and the differences in volume between regular strokes vs. ghost strokes really make the difference. It makes the drum part POP!

Sometimes called a dead note, muted note, or a false note, this concept is not exclusive to the world of drummers. However, I’d argue that they probably sound cooler when implemented on drums.

16th note ghost note beat (8th note ride pattern) – using that Weak hand again!

We can actually use them in may ways on a drum kit. In sheet music and drum notation, you’ll see the ghost notes denoted by small note heads next to regular notes.

Ghost notes can be challenging for beginners as they require precise control of stick velocity and technique.

However, with practice, drummers can master this technique and incorporate them into their playing style.

It’s a good idea to get as comfortable as you can doing ghost notes with both your right hand and left hand.

Whether you are on a practice pad or a snare drum, practicing will be the only way you can get really comfortable with them.

After you’ve gotten comfortable with that, a good next step would be to intertwine ghost strokes and standard strokes. This will ensure you have just enough force fo dial between the two.

Once you’ve established the feel of it, you can bring it to the drum kit. Snare drum notes will be louder than a practice pad, so you’ll have to really get a feel of it on your drum head.

Then, you can begin using ghost notes in beats and add more complexity over time. This is where our coordination can really take off, but it may feel a little weird at first.

Depending on where you’re placing your ghost notes in the beat, your first start may find you getting off beat. You may miss the kick drum, miss a hi hat stroke, or not make the snare notes quiet enough for ghost note-volume.

As you feel more comfortable with ghost notes in beats, you can use them in fills and incorporate them with rudiments like single strokes, paradiddles, and so much more.

Click those previous links to check out my blog posts about paradiddles and buzz rolls vs. double stroke rolls. Great stuff!

It may be hard to play between regular notes and ghost notes, especially as you get faster! Remember that ALL drummers have gone through this hurdle and will continue to do so.

There is stuff I’m always still working on where I incorporate ghost notes and I’ll have to slow it down until it really feels right.

A few songs you can hear ghost notes are Rosanna by Toto, Californication by Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Two Princes by Spin Doctors. There are TONS of other songs where you can pull inspiration from to help your ghost note chops!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little mini lesson.

Use Ghost Notes To Improve Your Drum Chops

So, what is a ghost note on drums? Well, they are quieter musical notes that we play in between regular notes and practicing them helps us become better drummers.

They also add more fun to your playing and you’ll usually impress people with them, especially the more you add into your drumming.

What Are Your Thoughts?

So, what are your thoughts of ghost notes? Do you practice ghost notes or not? I’d love to hear any thoughts or questions you have. Please let me know in the comments below!

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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