Chops Drummer or Song Drummer?

Who Would You Rather Listen To?

  • Technical Chops Drummer

    Votes: 6 17.6%
  • Song Drummer/Team Player

    Votes: 28 82.4%

  • Total voters

Ryan Culberson

Well-known Member
I’ll take song drummers for 200, Alex.

As others have mentioned, the two choices aren’t necessarily exclusive, but I’d rather hear songs with no fills over songs that have been “chopped” to the gills. Just preference, though. It’s art, there’s no right or wrong answer.

Jeremy Bender

Platinum Member
Yup, both. Context and musicality is key…:)(y)

ex: Two famous drummers from the same country & same era of music are Nick Mason & Carl Palmer.

If swapped, their playing style would be very mismatched for the bands that made them famous. Playing context and musicality indeed.
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Chris Whitten

Silver Member
A drummer with chops or not, who plays for the song.
They ARE out there. I find chops for the sake of chops super boring.
Most of the fusion type music with odd bar times etc sounds very old fashioned to me. People were nailing it (Cobham, Bozzio, Lenny White, Simon Phillips) in the late 70's, surely music and drumming has moved on in 50 years?


Diamond Member
Chops drummers always disrupt the flow of the song. Especially if it’s me. 🤣


Silver Member


Senior Member
I admire the skill but I find chops drumming annoying most of the time. No doubt envy plays a part in that but that's not the whole story.

Just as people can talk too much, musicians can noodle too much. There are reasons why Jazz doesn't enjoy anywhere near the audience that Pop music does and I suspect that nonstop noodling is one of the reasons. A generalization perhaps, but you get my drift.
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"Uncle Larry" - Administrator
Staff member
Rather than try and develop my "chops" I go in the opposite direction because there are plenty of drummers who cover that. So I try and provide an alternative to lots of drum notes. Instead, I focus on proper volume for the band, good inner kit dynamics, (punchy bass drum, cracking snare, hi hat and cymbals not too loud, a melodic approach to fills, and most of all, the maturity and security to know that in my mind it sounds best to support the others and not try to showcase drum fills. The others appreciate that I don't push drums to the forefront except when necessary.

For the music I play, single strokes on toms are too choppy. I do have to do them sometimes because the original song has them, but personally, I'm a little repulsed by my own choppy fills. If I do put something in, it's likely going to be a press roll with volume swells...something that is a long tone, not a bunch of single stroke hits. The music I play benefits from rolls not choppy tom work.

Depends on what music is being played mainly.

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I concur that both can exist, but as a
musician contractor I’ll take the song drummer any day of the week. Literally, after a few minutes, you get tired of all that “drummy” drumming, especially from guys who don’t play solid time.


Platinum Member
I agree they aren't mutually exclusive, but I think the root of the issue is (to borrow an excellent analogy from Jeremy Bender) that you have too many guys trying to play like Carl Palmer in Nick Mason's gig.


Platinum Member
Some songs need a just a steady beat, and some songs need lots of drumming. Knowing the difference comes with experience. Peace and goodwill.


Senior Member
For going to watch a band play live, a chops drummer any day of the week—as long as he or she uses their chops in a way that works for the song. Chops for the sake of chops can get old. Living in LA, I get to go to the Baked Potato as often as I like, and most of the drummers who play there have great chops and use them wisely. If anyone is visiting LA, I highly recommend going there at least one night.

As for listening at home, it really just depends on the music. I like both simple and complicated music, as well as everything in between.


Active Member
once and for all let's get this straight

there. that should settle it.
What's that sound that happens before every quarter note bass drum hit during the drop outs? It's like a cross between a shaker and the bass drum pedal squeak. :geek:


Silver Member
i like music that has both, from laid back groove stuff to technical deaht metal :)

and if i can play music and drum things that get people dancing, then im happy :) and if i can use chops and fun stuff in a solo i do, then im also happy :)