This time we’ll learn how the great Buddy Rich was able to pull off his illusion of a one-handed roll.

Even though I’m capable of playing a continuous single-handed roll, I often use Buddy’s method because there’s so much you can do with it and it sounds awesome. So whether or not you’ve mastered a legit one-handed roll or a gravity blast using the drum rim, this is still a worthwhile technique to add to your bag of tricks.

Video Demonstration

Take at look at the first exercise in the music notation. Practice it without the accents first. Add them after you become comfortable and can play the unaccented version with ease.

Once you get the first exercise up to speed on a single surface, it’s time to apply Buddy’s trick to the drum set. Take a look at the second exercise in the music notation. Play the sixteenth note pattern with your right hand moving around your toms and cymbals along with an accented bass drum stroke and your left hand on the snare drum. This completes the one-handed roll illusion. Watch the video to see and hear it in both slow and actual performance speeds.


One-Handed Roll - A Buddy Rich Trick


Regular practice will build this sticking into your muscle memory, which makes it easier when you go to apply it to the drumset. When you watch the drumset video demo, you’ll notice that I play the exact written pattern at slow speed but I add a slight variation when I play it up to speed. This is exactly what I want you to do when you practice. You can base your patterns on sixteenth notes as shown here or in triplets, it really doesn’t matter. Just have fun and get creative with it. Also, to develop equal coordination on both sides, practice with the reverse sticking as well.

As long as you play your patterns fast enough, this trick will provide the illusion of a true one-handed roll with very little effort on your part. If you have questions on this month’s lesson or would like more info on my Tension Free Drumming methods, visit me at

Until next time, have fun and stay loose!

Tiger Bill Meligar