The drag ruff works a lot like the flam. It has two or more grace notes that are followed by a primary stroke, and is featured on all the drum rudiments from the drag family. In this free drum lesson, Lionel Duperron teaches you how to play the drag ruff and how to apply it to drum beats and drum fills.
The grace notes on the drag ruff can be played as two strokes – in which case you should use bounced double strokes – or as an undisclosed number of strokes using the multiple bounce roll. It’s important you learn how to play the drag ruff with both types of grace notes. It gives you way more options when playing the drag ruff. Therefore, go through the free drum lessons on the double stroke roll and the multiple bounce roll before working through these exercises.
Focus on playing consistent sounding drag ruffs as you move from hand to hand. This is achievable if you play very similar primary strokes, and buzzed or double stroked grace notes. Remember to take your time with these exercises. You’ll be better off in the long run.
Exercise #1 is an 8th note drum beat. The drag ruffs are performed on the hi-hat on all the “ands”, and between the hi-hat and the snare drum on counts 2 and 4. Once the hands are happening, add the bass drum on counts 1 and 3. Experiment with different bass drum patterns once you’ve mastered this drum beat. Use the bass drum patterns from the drum beats on this website for some inspiration.
Exercise #2 is an 8th note drum beat that incorporates dragged snare shots on counts 2 and 4. The hi-hat is played on all the 8th notes – except for counts 2 and 4. The bass drum pattern is a little busier here. It’s played on counts 1 and 3, and on the “and” of count 2.
Exercise #3 is an 8th note drum fill. The grace notes are all played with the left hand on the snare drum and the primary strokes are moved around the various drums. Don’t forget to practice this drum fill with buzzed grace notes as well.
Exercise #4 is a very cool sounding 16th note drum fill that features the drag ruff and the single paradiddle. The grace notes are played on the snare drum with the left hand while the right hand plays the primary notes on a crash cymbal on counts 1 and 2, and on the snare drum on count 3. The cymbal shots are played in unison with the bass drum. If you’d like to get a different feel from this drum fill, try choking the cymbal shots. A 16th note single paradiddle finishes this drum fill off on count 4.
Once you’ve learned how to play the drag ruff, you’ll start hearing it everywhere since it’s used in many styles of music. Before moving on to learn how to play the single drag tap, experiment adding drag ruffs to some of the drum fills and drum beats on this website. Check the free drum lesson “Adding Drags To Your Fills” for some inspiration.