Back To Basics: How To Play A Rim-Click

How To Play A Rim-Click

rim click

Playing a good rim-click is not always as easy as it seems, yet it is a crucial technique for playing ballads, Latin styles, and rock songs. Striking the snare drum’s rim with one end of a stick, while the opposite end rests against the head, creates a rim-click sound. The sound we’re trying to produce is a loud and woody sound, similar to the tone obtained from striking a woodblock. There are many variables involved in consistently producing a good rim-click.

One problem many drummers have is accurately hitting the sweet spot of the head and rim. On a 14" snare, you’ll find planting your palm and the pivoting end of the stick about a finger’s length from the rim will get you close to your drum’s sweet spot. Take your favorite stick and play until you find a good loud tone, and mark the point where the stick contacts the head with a felt-tip pen, and along its edge to indicate the optimum angle.

The butt end offers the loudest, and is the best way to get a good sound. Traditional-grip players can easily flip their stick over to matched grip, and use the butt to strike the rim. Matched-grip players must either flip the stick halfway and catch it, as Carter Beauford of the Dave Matthews Band does, or play with the butt-end of the stick with their left hand all the time. This produces a poor sound on cymbals and makes rolls more difficult. Some matched grip drummers don’t bother, opting to play with the butt placed on the head, and strike the rim with the shoulder of the stick. This can work quite well with larger sticks.

If you still have trouble there are some other things to try. Substituting a thicker top rim gives a better rim-click than thinner rims do. Die-cast and wooden hoops may help a lot.

It’s easier to get a good sound on a 14" snare than it is on a 13" or 12" drum. Yamaha offers Russ Miller’s Wedge, which is a wooden accessory that attaches to a smaller drum and allows drummers to extend its effective diameter.

Larger sticks will produce a louder tone. Wood type (hickory, oak, and maple) vary some as do synthetic drumsticks. Some synthetics fail miserably. Finally, using no muffling and striking hard can help a lot!

Get the How To Tune Drums Minibook when you subscribe to our newsletter