Free Drum Lessons | Bass Drum Fills Pt. 2: Mike Johnston Licks

If you’ve been reading these lessons for any amount of time, you’ve figured out that I have a serious drummer-man-crush on Mike Johnston. And if you’ve followed Mike Johnston at all, you know he’s huge into linear grooves/fills and putting bass drum into his fills. So in the spirit of Mike’s playing, let’s look at some linear fills with bass drum in ’em.

To get started we need to pick a pattern.  For fun, I decided to pick a 5 note pattern like this:


Now that we have a pattern we need to practice it slowly between the hands and feet.  You can do this at your drum kit using snare and kick or without your drums by tapping yours hands on your thighs and stomping on the floor.

Once you have the pattern down, we need to start putting it into some kind of musical framework.  So let’s think about 16th notes.  In one measure of 4/4 time, we have 16 16th notes (duh!).  Dividing 16 by our 5 note pattern means we can play our pattern 3 times and have 1 16th note leftover, which we’ll play on the snare.  So now our pattern looks something like this:

And then once you get that pattern down you can start to move your hands around to the toms or cymbals kinda like this:

So now you can try this idea for yourself and start making your own linear patterns and turn them into some neat fills.

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