What Is A Pocket Drummer? 3 Tricks To Become Your Own Drum Hero

By Evan C

Not My Pockets..

If you own a drum set, you may have heard of the term pocket drummer. What is a pocket drummer exactly and how does it have to do with anything?

What is a pocket drummer?

Drumming In The Pocket

A pocket drummer is a drummer who possesses great groove, impeccable timing, and serves the music to the fullest.

In summary, your drumming sounds really good and it’s one of the most important things that allows the rest of the band to comfortably share that ‘space’ with you.

When a drummer plays a solid groove and knows how to work around that drum beat within the song, with almost perfect time, fellow musicians may say something about that being a deep pocket jam. This sense of pocket is the watering hole for a drummer and their bandmates.

Where To Start With All Of It?

You may still be wondering about a few other things and maybe one of those things is how to be a better pocket drummer. I got you covered, so let’s dig in!

Explanation: What Is A Pocket Drummer

Let’s break down the three things we talked about the make a pocket drummer.

1. Serving the Music

One of the most important aspects of achieving a pocket groove is by first starting any jam with what fits the song.

It is the best way to earn and give respect from the musicians you’re jamming with and the music.

If you’re jamming with a bass player and the jam calls for a bass drum pattern on beats 1 and 3 and a snare drum on 2 and 4, then that’s what you have to do.

You have to really feel our your musical performances and determine what you’re going to provide as the ‘conductor’ of the rhythm section.

A good way to first determine what should be played is to ask a bandmate (if you aren’t sure). Ask that bass guitar player what beats work for the song.

Maybe showcase them a few that have a great feel to you. They’ll be able to help you as they’re listening to the drums from a different perspective.

Even in classical music, the amount of drums present can vary greatly. Whatever makes the most sense for the piece will be used.

If you only take one thing away from serving the music, it’s always been said that less is more. If you want to be a good pocket drummer, you should first achieve a solid foundation of a simple groove. What is a pocket drummer without groove? Nothing!

Are you ready to become a drummer who serves the music better!? Click here and check out these drum hacks and other things that’ll get you on the right track!

a metronome
A traditional metronome (click track as we call them today)

2. Timing

Keeping time well and becoming as comfortable with a click track as possible are a big part of a pocket drummer’s arsenal.

Whatever beat you’re working on should be cohesive with the click track. You should be comfortable with where each different drum individually sits within confines of that metronome. Serving the music is important and it really starts with the tempo of the song.

While it’s good to also practice without a click track, it should never be taken for granted. It takes years and years to become ‘one’ with the metronome.

I’m always internalizing that click track to different tempos depending on whatever I’m practicing.

ask any old drummer or even young drummers who play professionally and they’ll tell you that a metronome is the cornerstone for our whole essence of drumming.

You need to learn to depend on the click track, internalize it, and lead the way for the rest of the band.

Establishing a pocket groove
Establishing Groove

3. Great groove

While this relates to serving the music, one final aspect of pocket drumming is absolutely a great groove!

Once you’ve become really comfortable with serving the music at the absolute basic and you’re constantly working on your timing, you can develop your groove more.

Not to say you’re not working on your groove as you serve the music and work on your timing. Drummers tend to get more comfortable the more time they put in practicing.

As a drummer gets better and establishes their sense of time, their different colors begin to come out and groove is born.

This groove feel comes out beyond just listening and responding to the click track/song. It may be hard to understand for some, but it’s a sense of being in the music and feeling out each and every beat of every measure.

Once you can get lost in that space, you can establish habits of creating those pockets.


Other tips and thoughts:

What is a pocket drummer without all of those things? However, there is something else I wanted to mention that relates to feeling out the music and the drumming.

I think every hit/stroke on the drums should come with a 100% confidence and conviction.

Whether you’re hitting the kick drum, snare drum (side snare), toms, etc. or whatever single note is happening, it should be felt with a sense of assurance.

It’s not only going to help the overall drum sound you’re going for, but it’s a great way to go about your drumming journey.

It can be hard to be confident sometimes, but no one is you and all you can do is push forward as much as possible.

With all that being said, I really believe becoming a pocket drummer involves getting so comfortable with the drums and feeling the music out (as I mentioned earlier).

Bernard Purdie and Steve Jordan are just a few drummers who are really great at creating that pocket. Watching any of their videos will give you a great example as to what is pocket drumming!

Bernard’s shuffles are awesome and his ghost notes are so precise. They both really have such a laidback feel to their drumming and their chops are outstanding.

I’ve been told before I have really good pocket groove (not being prideful) and it feels great to be told that! I’m even more excited that all the hard work I put into my drumming and other musical endeavors have been noticed.

I don’t take that statement as a, “You’re good enough, stop now!” I know there are TONS of drummers better than me and that’s another thing that drives me everyday!

There’s not a better feeling of getting better and being told and it’s really that that helps keep you moving forward and always improving too.

YOU can do it!

You Can Absolutely Achieve Becoming A Pocket Drummer

So, I hope ‘what is a pocket drummer’, is a question that doesn’t come to your mind anymore. It can definitely be confusing because the word pocket and all (lol).

Just think of it as a drummer with great groove, sense of time, and the chops to serve the music to its fullest potential.

What Drummers Would You Consider?

Who is your favorite drummer out there? Would you consider them a pocket drummer and what do you like most about their chops?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and am ALWAYS down to hear a drummer I may not know about! 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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