Funky Threes 1In this article, we’re going to look at a very simple three-note sticking pattern (LLR) and apply it on the drumkit in a way that you may not have thought of before—with the double strokes voiced between the hi-hat and snare. It’ll take a bit of time to get the orchestration under control, but it will be worth the effort. I’ve found that, when used judiciously, this concept can be a great way to add a little spicy sauce to your grooves.

I’ve placed brackets around the three-note stickings in order to make it easier for you to recognize the pattern. Start off slowly, and repeat the stickings until the motion of your hands feels natural and relaxed. Take your time, and enjoy the sounds of these funky ideas.

To begin, here’s the basic sticking phrased as triplets.

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Here’s the same idea, but phrased as 16th notes, with the right hand moving to the toms.

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Once you have those exercises under control, try the following 16th-note grooves.

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In these examples the three-note lick is phrased as 16th-note triplets.

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In this final groove, I’ve introduced another three-note lick (RRL), voiced on the rack tom, ride cymbal, and snare. Try coming up with your own variations.

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To watch a video demonstrating these grooves, log on to the Education page at

Jeff Salem is an internationally recognized drummer/ educator based in Toronto. He has released three instructional videos (Groove-a-Diddles, Drumology, and Double Bass Vocabulary Volume 1) and written two books for Hudson Music (Turn It Up & Lay It Down: Messin Wid Da Bull and A Rhythmic Twist). For more info, visit