Borrowing from Bonham...


New member
John Bonham's always been a favorite drummer of mine. However, until recently, I've never even considered attempting to do some of his "signature" elements--it just looked/sounded like a blur to me...too complicated. I always just kinda thought I'd never be able to do some of those tricks.

But the other day, a friend of mine was in his garage playing drums, and I noticed he was throwing in those smooth triplet fills, and that weird kickass disorienting foot thing (like in "Good Times, Bad Times").

I was like, "How do you do that?" And when he broke it down for me, it was very simple...triplets...foot, tom, tom--foot, tom, tom. I've gotten to where I can do this kind of fast, I guess....but it doesn't sound like what my friend, or Bonham, was doing. I kept telling my friend that it looks like he's doing something more complicated when he plays it fast. He said, "No, just the same triplet thing".

So right now, I'm almost feeling stupid. I'm realizing this is something that most drummers can do, probably to the point that they're bored with it by now. I've been practicing my ass off to learn this lately--but what I'm playing sounds like some kind of crappy high school band exercise or something, not the smooth, muscular, flowing, blur of trading off between kick, snare, + toms that I'm noticing more + more people have mastered....

I know Bonham's by far NOT the only guy who did this. I'm just using him as a reference because it seems the most obvious, and maybe the most stripped-down example. I'm not out to be Mike Portnoy or anything...I just need some pointers on doing this "basic" kick-ass stuff! The bare-bones of rock, that somehow have escaped me in my years of playing drums. I'm a little embarassed.

Obviously one pointer would be practice it very slow at first. Then, I would think, different combinations of toms to mix it up. But, my friend only has 2 toms, and it sounded so much more complicated...

Oh yeah...I guess it would have been a lot simpler to say, just go to, and watch the footage of Mark Romans playing John Bonham's green kit--this is the exact stuff I'm trying to figure out:

THANK YOU. Sorry for such a long post.


New member
That clip of Mark Romans is excellent! Man, he's got it down. If you close your eyes you could swear its Bonham himself. I've been a huge fan for years, but there has always been some stuff I just couldnt figure out, that footage helps a lot. The info on how Bonham tuned his drums is great too.


New member
pretty cool stuff! Those are good triplet excercises to learn, for sure.
I always thought one of the tougher triplet feels to nail from Bonham was the bass-bass-snare lick that he sneaks in pretty often, like the one you mention- Good Times, Bad Times. I'm pretty sure there's one in Kashmir, too. Those are a good workout!
Nothing builds single-bassdrum speed like copping those triplets.

The Heel

New member
The one thing I hate is when people mistake Bonham for "simple". Its like he gets mistaken for Tommy Lee or something. It happens frequently and the last time I saw it Carter Beuford said it and I nearly puked.

If you watch him and his evolution in "How The West Was Won" and you really pay attention... you can see him doing polyrythms and incredible snare and bass drum ghost notes that just boggle the mind. Especially as a rock drummer at that stage of the game.

Triplets in their simplest form, are basic. When you get the feel down, they flow. Its all practicing them to get them smooth. Dont try to go a hundred miles an hour, work them up slow like you stated. The more control you can have over them slow, the more control you can have over them fast. Like rudiments.

Start with the Bass/right/left. When you feel comfortable with that, try Bass/left/right. Then alternate Bass/Right/Left with Bass/left/right. Move your way around the toms and snare, and eventually you'll feel spots to accent or even to add a double with the foot or with the hand and change the pattern around.

When you feel comfortable with that, you can variate to bass/bass/left, bass/bass/right and try versions such as bass/left/bass/bass/right/bass.

It should feel like a gallop of sorts.

Eventually you will move to quads, where you'll go through the same excercises but with ideas like left/right/bass/bass, right/left/bass/bass and so forth.

Its a little intimidating at first, but this is a great chop building excercise and will help with your coordination. Before you know it you'll be cross arming triplets.

Doing these excercises with a metronome is the only way to really ensure you are making progress. Anytime you feel as if you are regressing... move back to the most simple form and start over again.


New member
yes, all the excercises in the last post are definately what you need to build those chops. I've gotten pretty quick with bass/left/right triplet (being a lefty), but haven't quite gotten it with the right hand leading yet. The key is to START SLOW and build it from there...definately use a metronome. If you try going faster and feel yourself tense up, go back to that slower speed where it feels comfortable and keep working. This is the hardest thing to try and get across to young students... they always want to rip through stuff fast, but don't get there unless they start slow and learn to relax.