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Ask the Experts - Drumset Tips

"I would like to ask Dom Famularo one question...
How to practice left hand?  Thank you very much in advance."

Cracow, Poland

Thanks so much for the question! This is very important! If your left hand is your weaker hand, then it will be very needed to make it feel as good as your stronger hand!
I would suggest to first find a teacher who can see how you play and assist you with patterns to practice.
First, use your left hand more in your everyday life! Open doors with your left hand, brush your teeth and comb your hair all with your weaker hand. This will begin to make it stronger and more of a leader!
Second, play more left hand patterns on the Remo pad. This feels like a drum, but reduces the sound. Patterns like:
Repeat these over and over again. Maybe for two to five minutes each, every day!
Third, start to play on the drumset playing fills and patterns leading with your left hand. Try to make your left hand a strong leader on the drum set. Play some fills only with left hand.
Forth, play grooves on the drum set leading with your left hand. Lower your High hat to the height of your snare drum and play a simple beat with your left hand on the high hat and your right hand on the snare! This will really help balance your hands together.
Think lefty in your daily life and during your practice time!
I now play with my left hand on my high hat and I moved my ride cymbal to my left also. This is called Open Handed playing. Do not cross your right over your left. Listen to players like Billy Cobham and Simon Philips. They are both natural righty, but they lead with their left hand! It is possible and it takes time and discipline!
It is fun. In the few months I've done this, I have seen great improvement with my left hand! Embrace the challenge and mostly have fun!
Let me know how this all turns out and keep in touch with me on Also, check out my free cyber lessons on and check out the different hand positions to help you with this! There is also some open handed playing for you to see and hear!
Have fun!

Dom Famularo
Onward and Upward...


To: Dom Famularo
I own an entry-level kit and I've never put anything but Remo clear pinstripes on top of the toms. Now that I have more experience and also tend to play softer than I used to, I would like to swap to lighter heads on top (Remo clear ambassadors perhaps) to get more response and resonance. While I was ready to give it a try, I read more than once in drum forums that single-ply heads are not appropriate for entry-level kits, since these kits sound very thin without 2-ply heads. Is this true? Why? Could you please recommend heads made by remo that offer sensitivity and fullness at the same time? Any tuning tips would be appreciated.

Stefanos, thanks for the question. I can see you are really starting to feel change in the way your hands feel. More experience means you are growing as a musician. Remember, your brain and ears are also developing! As you develop technique, the way you feel the stick strike the head changes. It is this feeling in your hands and the growth of your ears musically that makes the difference. So what you feel in your hands and what sound you want is how to go about choosing the best combination to your sound.

What I do every now and then, is pick up some Remo heads from a store that I normally would not use. This really is the only way to hear and feel what I am looking for. Stop by your local music store and ask the drum salesperson to make some suggestions and listen to some of the drum sets in the store. There are many combinations and you will be the final judge as to if you like the sound and feel or not! Take your time, this takes patience.

I feel entry kits are made much better now than ever. I think you should try the single ply heads. I have heard entry kits and was very impressed with the sound. You may want to put an Emperor clear on also. Compare the sound and see what sound this offers you. I always enjoyed learning about the sounds when I changed heads. This form of education will lead you to know just what you like!

I suggest you try tuning the bottom head a little tighter than the top and listen to how that sounds and feels! Then, try tuning both bottom and top the same sound, again hear and feel the difference. Then finally, tune the top head tighter and the bottom looser. You will notice change and it may be just a little difference, but then you will have a better understanding on what you may like.

Again, with the entry sets, they are made well and can give a very professional sound. Tuning takes time and trust your ears. Get together with some drumming friends and do this. Have one of you play while the other listens, then switch. You will learn so much and this will even give you more experience. You playing will get better and this for me means more fun! Take private lessons with a teacher in your area and ask for suggestions. Again, the drum salesperson in your local store will also help with ideas. Talk with everyone, try these ideas and keep in touch with me here at to let me know how this all turns out!

Feel free to check out my web site and check out the free cyber lessons.

I hope this all helps, the most important thing is to have fun with drumming!

Dom Famularo

"I've got a question for Chad.  What type of heads (both top and bottom) did you use on Blood, Sugar Sex Magik, and how did you tune them to get that sound.  Did the producer mess with the drum sound a lot?  You're my fav. drummer.  Thanks for your time."
-Siggi (from Iceland)

Coated ambassadors on the top of the toms and clear ones on the bottom.  Powerstroke 3 on the kick drum and CS coated on the top snare, Ambassador on the bottom...nuthin` fancy with the recording of the drums  just analog gear and me kickin the s*** out of them in a big room.....(it`s been a long time now, that`s my best recollection...gretch drums with paiste cymbals)....see you next month...your friend  

To the guys @,
I have a quick question for Chad Smith. I would just like to know what size snare and what type of head he used for the song 'I could have lied' off RHCP's 'Blood Sugar Sex Magik' album? I'd also like to know how he tuned that snare.

Thanks for your time.


Hi Sam,

The snare drum was a early 70`s black beauty...5 .5  brass, ambassador coated head, tight fact,i used that drum for most of that record.


my question is for the great chuck silverman.
I hail from india, which is not really know to have any drum school of anysort, neither are there any good teachers around, i'm very intrested in learning how to read and write drum notations but have not been able to find someone to teach me to do so. i subsribe to modern drummer, but so many terms used in the magz go over my head, is there anyway i can learn drum notations from the very basics, are there anybooks for the same. Also i play a lot of pop and popular rock with my band, i have a pearl 5 piece kit with remo black ebony pinstipe heads which i managed to get from the net. could u please advise me if there is a certain note where i should tune my first tom too, i'm very confused with what is the correct sound and thus am always bothered about my drums not being tuned rather than playing, i know the techniques of tuning but could u suggest me a particular note where i can tune my first tom and my snare , that reference would be very good as i'm not very good at tuning by my ear....thanking you...regards....warren

Hi Warren,
Thanks for writing me at  Regarding drum notation, are you referring to "reading music"? If you are, a good teacher is your best bet. Where do you live? Perhaps I can recommend a teacher in your area. Oops, your in India!  Well.....I recommend "Modern Reading Text in 4/4" by Louis Bellson.  I'm sure you can order that online. It's a great book for learning the basics of reading. I learned a lot from it without the help of a teacher.  If you're talking about drum notation, as in what notes mean which drums, there is a book by Norm Weinberg, and produced by the Percussive Arts Society ( that can help you immediately.  Regarding an actual note for tuning your first tom, hmmm....what size is your first tom. What I do when tuning, is find the best note for each particular drum. For me, it's the note where the drum sounds like it is singing uninhibitedly, with no choking. Have you checked out the tuning article in my Pro Tips section on my web site. That may help you. Find the note for each drum where the sound is not choked but a sweet note.  I hope this helps you. Please feel free to keep in touch.

Best, Chuck Silverman

This question is for the great drum teacher Gary Chaffee:
 I noticed that your hand technique has an unsusual technique specially in the left hand. I know something about moeller technique but in the fashion of Mr Jim Chapin, but I do not know if you use some type of moeller movements for accenting notes and not accenting notes in the examples you play. Is there an up and downstroke for this movement or if it is another technique please describe it because it seem to be very good to play fast and for controlling accents, and in your pattern books there is no explanation of how to move the wrist and arms only finger excersises..

The only way I understand your technique is to relate to some type of reverse finger technique that was explained in the last video of Dave Weckl, but it begins with a french grip in the first stroke and then for the second stroke the wrist is rotated to a german grip fashion, I am not shure if you use more a hibrid technique or it is the hidden secret of the american grip. JULIAN
I am a mexican drummer so I have not the chance to see many good teachers in my area, please apologize of my redaction in english, I hope I am not sounding unpolite or incoherent. I have seen your latest 2 videos from the pattern books from 1998 , I know you had another ones from the late decade of 80's but I do not know if the old ones have something similiar to the new releases from DCI. 

Thanks for the interesting question concerning a technique I use in my videos.  The short answer is: this is not Moeller, or Chapin, or based upon anybody else's technique system. I ran into this idea more or less through trial and error and it seemed the best way to move from the ghost notes to the accents (for me). The rotation from French grip to German grip offers some possibilities in other situations as well.  'Work with it for awhile and you'll see what I mean.
Thanks, Gary  

"Can you offer some help on selecting a good set of heads. I have a pearl 5-piece standard drum kit. toms=12", 13", and 16" floor tom. snare=metal 14", and a 22" bass. We play electric blues (eg. muddy waters, t bone walker, buddy guy) and would appreciate any help." Best regards, Dave.

Dear Dave,
Thanks for the question on heads. Although there are many choices today, I think the place to start is with Remo Ambassador weight heads. I use coated on the tops, clear on the bottoms. The coated heads are a little darker and ''warmer' than the clear which makes for a richer sound. Also, in general, the Ambassador's weight heads are (to me) the best all purpose heads, since they offer the widest overtone possibilities. Thicker heads tend to have a more 'centered' sound, (more fundamental, less overtones.)

Tuning is also a very important in relationship to the heads you use. I generally tune the batter heads to the pitch (and feel) I want, and then tune the bottom heads tighter which brings out more of the upper overtones. Experiment with different intervals (3rd, 4ths, 5ths, etc) between the heads until you find the right relationship. Generally the bigger the drum, the wider the interval.

Finally, with the size BD you're playing, you may need some slight muffling. Might I suggest the Gary Chaffee Physics Muffler! It's designed specifically for playing ambassador heads on wide open drums. You'll love it!
Hope this helps.

Gary Chaffee

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