Bonham Drum Tutorials

John Bonham Triplets

John Bonham was a master at applying triplet patterns all around the kit to create monstrous drum fills. One of the best examples of this intense triplet fill is found just after the guitar solo on the song "Dazed and Confused" from the band's self-titled debut album. It's one of John's most influential licks that has been imitated time and time again by the many drummers he's insprired.

Bonham's explosive drum triplets around the kit became one of his tradmarks:

Bonham Triplets Exercise 4
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Drum Reference Key:
Drum Notation Key

Step One:

Let's first dissect the triplet rhythm into its simplest form - restricting the drums used to just the snare drum and bass drum whilst maintaining the rhythm. So we are playing triplets with the first 2 beats played by the hands, leading with the left hand, and the third beat played on the bass drum. Try to play the triplets as evenly as possible. Learning this pattern will get you the coordination you need between your hands and feet to move onto the next step.

Bonham Triplets Exercise 1
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Step Two:

The next step is to vary the drums played on the first two beats of each set of triplets helping you achieve independent coordination between your hands and feet. So here we are going to play:

1st triplet set:
     snare, snare, bass drum
2nd triplet set:
     rack tom, rack tom, bass drum
3rd triplet set:
     floor tom, floor tom, bass drum
4th triplet set:
     rack tom, rack tom, bass drum

Bonham Triplets Exercise 2
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Step Three:

The trickiest bit of playing John Bonham's triplet passage is probably the alternating crossing of the right hand over the left when it moves from floor tom to rack tom (this takes place at the second half of the bar). So here we will start in the crossed position beginning with the left hand playing the floor tom and the right hand playing the rack tom. The 2nd set of triplets is in uncrossed position with the left hand playing the rack tom and the right playing the floor tom. Repeat this pattern going from crossed to uncrossed until it becomes fluid and you don't keep hitting your hand together and bruising yourself silly.

Bonham Triplets Exercise 3
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Summary & Final Step:

So up until this point we have learnt:

  1. To play triplets alternating between the hands and feet (Left Hand, Right Hand, BassDrum)
  2. To move the triplets played by the hands to different drums while the 3rd beat stays on the bass drum.
  3. For the hands to be able to play in an alternating pattern of crossed, then uncrossed.

WARNING: Step four will be one of the most memorable drumming moments of your life when it is first successfully carried out... After all this hard work you have put in, you will now be rewarded by playing the complete drum triplet passage and feeling like a god! HA:

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