Master the Art of Playing with Drum Brushes: Tips and Techniques for Perfecting Your Sound

Apr 18 / Von Baron
Playing the drums is an art, and playing with drum brushes is an even more delicate art. Brush playing is a technique that every drummer should master to enhance their skill and sound options on the drums.

Using drum brushes can give you a softer, more mellow sound, compared to drum sticks. However, it takes more than just picking up a pair of brushes to play them well.

In this article, I'll guide you through some of the basics of playing with drum brushes to begin adding this skill to your drumming.

Choosing the Right Brushes

There are many types of drum brushes available on the market, and choosing the right ones can make all the difference in your sound. Nylon brushes are the most common and are ideal for Fusion, Pop, Rock and Funk music. However, if you're into Country, Blues, or Jazz music, metal wire brushes work great.

Metal brushes produce a brighter sound, and you can adjust the volume by playing harder or softer. Most metal brushes have adjustable settings, which allow you to change the spread of the brush, the length of the bristles, and the amount of attack you get.
I have used the Vic Firth Heritage Brushes for over 10 years and love them.

Drumming Grip

Drumming grip is another important aspect of playing with drum brushes. Like drum sticks, you don't need to grip the brushes tightly. Hold the brush with the same strength as if you're holding a pencil or pen.

There are two drumming grips we use in in Jazz. One is Matched grip where the hands are symmetrical and the other is Traditional grip which is asymmetrical. See my pictures below for both Matched and Traditional grips. 

Traditional grip is a bit more complicated than matched grip but actually the drumming grip I prefer when playing with drum brushes. I teach you how to play with Traditional grip in my Brushes Mastery Course. 
Matched Grip.
Traditional Grip Overhead Angle.
Traditional Grip Front Angle with brushes. 
Enroll in my Brushes Mastery Course to learn all the sounds, textures, grooves and possibilities of drum brushes for your drumming. 

The Jazz Swing Pattern

Playing with drum brushes is all about getting a smooth sound, and it starts with technique.  The most common brushes technique is the sweeping motion.

Start by holding the brush near the center of the head and sweep it across the drumhead towards the rim. You can also use a circular motion, where you sweep the brush in either a clockwise or counterclockwise motion. The circular motion produces a soft sound and is ideal for ballads and slow music.

Another technique is the tap stroke, where you tap the drumhead with the bristles of the brush. The tap stroke produces a shorter sound than the sweeping motion.  You can use it to create accents and to add texture to your playing. You can also use the tap stroke to play on cymbals.

I often use a combination of the sweeping motion and the tap stroke to create different sounds, textures and grooves. There are of course, many more sound and texture possibilities with brushes. 

Drum brushes have an almost endless possibilities for sounds for any kind of music. It's why I actually enjoy playing with brushes more than with sticks! 


Playing with drum brushes is a delicate skill that every drummer should learn for their drumming and especially Jazz drumming. Selecting your brushes,  choosing your drumming grip and exploring different ways to get sound and texture from your brushes are a great way to get started. 

Like anything, it's always easier to learn brushes from someone who's been doing it a while.  Join my Brushes Mastery Course today and learn dozens of brushes patterns for many styles of music, drum fills and how to play your brushes in a band. 

Get swishing those brushes and keep swinging my friend!
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