What The Heck Is A Drum Solo?

What's a drum solo

A drum solo?

What the heck is that?

You can define a solo as a musical story played on the drum kit.

This story can be shorter or longer, depending on

  • your personal taste,
  • the available time frame and/or
  • the music you’re playing your solo around.

And how do you master the art of playing a drum solo?

This practical drumming guide will provide you with some helpful tips.

Recap: Short Definition Of A Drum Solo

A drum solo can be defined as a musical story you tell on an acoustic or electronic set.

You can play your solo for twenty seconds or even some minutes.

Remember this:

The length doesn’t define its quality.

A short solo can be absolutely mind-blowing, while a long one can be boring as hell.

So, great drum solos are all about telling a captivating story on the kit.

It’s about musical storytelling.

How To Play A Drum Solo: 5 Tried And Tested Tips

Playing a drum solo can feel like a nasty challenge, especially for beginners.

Where should you start?

Or finish?

And besides:

How not to play a boring solo?

Before I share my tips, you might want to check out the drum solo formula for beginners.

I consider this tutorial quite helpful:

Tip 1: Be Prepared

Preparing yourself as a drummer always is a good idea.

After all, thoughtful preparation increases your musical confidence.

So, whenever you can, prepare.

For example, you can

  • think about the musical story you want to tell.
  • define the minimum and maximum length of your solo.
  • pick some drum grooves or fills as a basis for it.

I also recommend studying some classic solos like the one by John Bonham in Moby Dick.

You’re already familiar with drum notes?

Search for some PDF drum solos as well!

Also, get some good books and work on solos during your drum lessons.

Adapting ideas of others will enhance your drumming skills and creativity.

Just like tip 2 will.

Tip 2: Pick Some Grooves As A Basis For Your Drum Solo

You should definitely pick at least one or two different grooves as a basis for your solo.


These grooves are a “safety net” for you.

You can always come back to them if you feel lost or unsure what to play next.

If you’re already more intermediate, you can also pick one or two fills.

By doing so, you’ll never run out of ideas.


You should really be able to nail your “safety net” grooves or fills.

Been stressed out or having a bad day drumming?

Still, you’re able to nail these rhythms.

Tip 3: Map It Out

“I’d love to play a drum solo. But I don’t know what to play.”

Most beginner drummers feel like this, including myself some 15+ years ago.

Soloing can undoubtedly freak you out.

And if it does, make tip 3 work for you.

It’s about mapping out your solo.

What do I mean by that?

Tip 2 was about picking grooves or fills as a basis.

Mapping out your drum solos takes this a step further:

You now set up an easy-to-adjust plan for your solo.


  1. Write down the overall story of your solo.
  2. Think of its structure then: Start with few notes, and increase the intensity of your drumming gradually. If you like to, you can adapt the MICE writing concept to musical storytelling as well.
  3. Does your solo sound good? Record yourself practicing! Change what you don’t like, and keep what sounds good.

Tip 4: Tell Your Story

Fantastic drum solos aren’t just there by accident.

Drummers practice and build up their solos based on their current skills.

Therefore, you can also say:

Work with what you have!

A great drum solo doesn’t need to be complex to move people.

It’s about making somebody feel something.

Entertain your audience.

Capture them.

Tell your story!

That’s also a highly important step to cultivating your own style.

Tip 5: Practice Drum Solos Regularly

By playing drum solos on a regular basis, you’ll become more skilled.

Preparation will give you more

  • confidence,
  • ideas and
  • a rock solid routine.


Excellence comes with doing the right thing over and over again.

Coming up with mind-blowing drum solos makes no difference.

And again:

A solo doesn’t need to be long to move people.

It’s about HOW you tell it.

And that’s up to you.

Awesome, isn’t it? 🙂


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Author: Manu Holmer

Hi, I'm Manu Holmer, nice to meet you! As a professional drummer and drum teacher, my vision is to help others transform their lives with the power of music. Let's not only play the drums. Feel the rhythm & and walk to our own beats!

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