Drum Rim Shot – What it is and How to Play it?

December 27, 2023

A drum rim shot is a percussive sound produced by striking the drumhead and the metal rim of a drum simultaneously.

It adds a sharp and distinctive sound to the drumbeat, emphasizing certain beats or creating accents.

In this article, I will teach you all you need to know about the percussive sound used in approximately 95% of modern rock songs.

Let’s dive in.

What’s the drum rim shot purpose? Why drummers play it?

Because of the  most important thing in music – SOUND.

This stroke will amplify and change the sound of a drum. It is usually played on snare drum, toms, percussion etc.

It’s simple, if you hit a snare drum in the middle, you get a certain sound, perfect for some beats or genres like jazz and reggae, for instance.

But, some groove or song demand more aggressive drums. In other case this may be appropriate for a live performance on a big stage.

If that’s the case, now, instead of hitting a snare drum or any drum in the middle, your drummer will hit it together with an edge or a rim. This way you get double sounds because now you are hitting two components.

This sound is louder, sharper, it has more attack and, because of that accent, the whole experience is now different. Either you just play it on a snare drum to get a stronger backbeat or you use it in a fill to spice things up it sounds different.

That “different sound” is what rock musicians love.

Here’s a short sample, so you can hear the difference:

How to play drum rim shot? Step by Step

The technique requires precision and control to achieve a clean and balanced sound between the drumhead and rim. If you are wondering you should play it or not, before we jump into learning, here are the benefits of playing rim shots:

  1. Enhanced Accentuation
  2. Increased Dynamic Range
  3. Musical Versatility
  4. Improved Timing and Precision
  5. Distinctive Sound

Hand Placement

Use a traditional or matched grip, depending on your comfort and training. If you play traditional, you will want to adjust the snare drum angle so when you hit rim shots, volume stays consistent.

The stick should be angled so that when you strike, one end hits the drumhead and the other end hits the rim simultaneously. Here’s a quick training:

Step 1. Place a drumstick on a snare drum, so it touches the rim and the center of drumhead simultaneously like this:

hand placement for drum rim shot

Make sure to remember that position.

It’s better to pull the drumstick towards yourself than to push it over the center. 

You don’t want a stick falling out of your hand and there’s no need to use the entire stick’s body to hit the drum. 

To the center or little less will be enough.

Striking the Drum

Step 2. Now lift the stick so the tip of the stick and strike a drum like this:

Make sure stick placement is as we practiced in the first step. 

You have two approaches here:

First, to hit the drum and move the stick up to get a more open sound.

Second, to  strike and leave the drumstick either on a snare drum or closely above. 

Perfecting the drum rim shot sound

The tip of the stick should strike near the center of the drumhead, while the shaft (near the other end of the stick) should hit the rim. This requires a bit of practice to get the angle and positioning right.

The motion should be controlled and precise. It’s not just about using force; accuracy is key.

Practice striking with different levels of force to see how it affects the sound. A rim shot can be loud and sharp, but you can vary the dynamics.

After striking, let the stick rebound naturally. This helps in preparing for the next stroke and prevents a stifled sound.

Start slowly, focusing on hitting the rim and the head at the same time consistently.

Gradually increase speed as you become more comfortable and accurate.


 Common Mistakes to Avoid during Rim shots

If You’re Not Getting the Distinctive Sharpness of a Proper Rim shot…

  • Likely Issue: Your stick angles might be inconsistent. This is a common hurdle if you find that your drum rim shots are missing that crisp, sharp sound.
  • What You Should Do: Focus on the angle at which you’re holding your drumstick. It’s crucial that the tip of the stick hits the drumhead while the shaft simultaneously strikes the rim. Experiment with different angles and grips until you find the one that consistently produces that sharp rim shot sound.

If Your Rim shots Sound Weak or You Often Miss…

  • Likely Issue: Your stick positioning could be off. This often happens if you’re placing the stick too far from the rim or too close to it.
  • What You Should Do: Practice finding the ‘sweet spot’ on your drum. It’s usually a spot close to the edge of the drumhead where your stick naturally hits both the head and the rim. Spend time adjusting your positioning until you find this spot.

If Your Rim shots Sound Harsh or Uncontrolled…

  • Likely Issue: You might be using excessive force. It’s a common misconception that a louder drum rim shot is a better one. 
  • What You Should Do: Work on refining your technique rather than relying on force. A good rim shot is about precision, not power. Practice making controlled, precise strikes where the stick hits the head and rim with just enough force to create a sharp sound.

Why are drum rim shots so loud?

Rim shots are loud because they involve striking both the drumhead and the metal rim of the drum simultaneously, creating a more intense and sharp sound.

The technique used in a rimshot often involves a more forceful strike than a regular drum hit, contributing to the increased volume.

The rim of the drum, typically made of metal, acts as an amplifier. When the stick hits the rim, it produces a sharp, cutting sound that is naturally louder and more piercing than the sound produced by the drumhead alone.

Striking two surfaces (the head and the rim) allows for more energy transfer from the stick to the drum. This energy transfer results in a louder sound.

The design of the snare drum, with its tight drum head and resonant body, further amplifies the sound. The rimshot takes advantage of this design, projecting the sound more forcefully.

What is the difference between ping shot and rim shot?

The difference between a ping shot and a rim shot lies in their execution and the resulting sound:

In a rim shot, the drummer strikes the drum head and the rim of the drum simultaneously with a drumstick. This is typically done on a snare drum.

A ping shot is a technique where the drummer strikes the drumhead very close to the rim but does not actually hit the rim. It’s often executed with the tip of the stick close to the rim of the drum.

Rimshots are loud, sharp, and cutting sound while, the ping shot produces a clear, articulate, and high-pitched tone.

Wrap up

In conclusion, the drum rim shot is a vital technique for drummers seeking to add emphasis and a unique edge to their playing. I

It’s not just about power, but precision and control, striking the perfect balance between the drumhead and rim. 

As you practice, you’ll discover how this dynamic technique can significantly enhance your musical expression across various genres. So, embrace the rim shot, refine your skills, and watch as it transforms your drumming performance. 

Happy drumming!

Denis Loncaric
Denis Loncaric

My name is Denis. I am a drummer, percussionist, music enthusiast, and blogger. Drums have been my passion for 15 years now. My idea is to write about the things I like and I am interested in. I want to share my drum passion with fellow musicians who walk, talk, and breathe drums.

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