Beyond the Sticks: Exploring Brushes and Mallets in Jazz Drumming

Apr 22 / Von Baron
Jazz drumming is both versatile and creative. We use many different styles of drumming in playing Jazz and improvisation is our hallmark.

Jazz drumming also uses wide range of sounds and textures that you don't find so much in other styles of drumming. Some of these include the use of brushes and mallets.

In this article, I'll explore the world of brushes and mallets and how they can be used in your drumming.

The Basics of Brushes

Brushes are one of the most popular alternatives to sticks in Jazz drumming. Brushes are essentially a set of thin wires or bristles that are attached to a handle.

The wires or bristles are made of of nylon, metal, or natural fibers and all have unique sound qualities.  In Jazz drumming we use the metal bristle brushes the most.

These brushes produce a smooth, soft and delicate sound that is perfect for ballads and mellow dynamics in Jazz tunes.
To play brushes, we use a sweeping motion to move the bristles across the drumhead. This motion produces a swish sound like a broom sweeping the floor.

Brushes can create many tones and textures that you can't get from drum sticks.  We play drum brushes mostly on the snare drum, tom toms and cymbals. 

The Advantages of Brushes

Two advantages of using brushes in Jazz drumming are the texture and dynamics we can create. Ballads for example, sound great with the sustained smooth swish sound that only brushes can deliver.  

As drummers we should have control of our drum sticks to play at very quiet to loud volume levels. Even so, brushes can give us a different sound at quiet to medium loud volume levels.  

Using drum brushes just add so much more color to our drumming bag of tricks.  They enhance our creativity too. 
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Mallets in Jazz Drumming

Mallets are another alternative to sticks in Jazz drumming. Mallets are essentially a pair of drumsticks with a soft tip, usually made of felt or rubber.

They are used to produce a softer sound than sticks and are perfect for cymbal rolls, playing on toms toms and the snare drum with the snares turned off.

Like drum brushes, mallets give us another array of colors that we can add to our drumming and enhance the music. 

The Advantages of Mallets

One of the main advantages of using mallets in Jazz drumming is the ability to create a soft, mellow sound. Mallets are perfect for Jazz pieces where a softer touch is needed.

Mallets can also be used to create a wide range of sound variations, including a warm, resonant sound on a cymbal and making your tom toms sing. 

Like brushes, mallets can also be used to create unique textures that are not possible with sticks.

Combining Brushes and Mallets

Drummers can also combine brushes and mallets to create even more unique sound and texture ideas. For example, a drummer can use brushes to create a soft, swishing sound on a snare drum while using mallets to create a warm, resonant sound on a cymbal.

Using drum brushes and mallets together opens up many more color possibilities for our Jazz drumming.  This ultimately helps us interact more with the music and the other musicians. 
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Conclusion

Drum brushes and mallets are two alternative devices that can add tremendous color to your Jazz drumming. Brushes are perfect for creating a softer, smoother sound and offer a wide range of texture variations.

Mallets are also perfect for creating a soft, mellow sound and can also be used to create other textures. Drummers can combine brushes and mallets to create unique sounds and expand their color palette even more.

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced Jazz drummer, using drum brushes and mallets into your drumming will definitely help you become more expressive on the drums.

So explore drum brushes and mallets and add some new sound, texture and color to your Jazz drumming! Keep swinging my friend!
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