Music is an incredibly broad topic. There are way too many musical styles to count them all, and you get different types of drummers that specialize in each style.
However, there are a few main category types that most drummers can easily fall into. These categories are quite broad, and they cover a seriously large range of drumming styles within them.
If you’re wondering what the different types of drum set players are, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve listed a few categories, and I’ve given examples of professional drummers in those categories for you to check out.
Various Types of Drummers
Rock drummers prioritize energy, speed, and powerful grooves.
These are drummers that hit hard and look good while doing it.
There aren’t as many rock drummers today as there were in the late 20th century and early 2000s, but you can still find a wide range of professional players that are considered to be rock guys.
If you want to be a rock drummer, you need to enjoy playing all kinds of heavy music. You should then focus on building the amount of power you get from your drum strokes.
Most rock drummers have excellent stamina as well. They’re able to play hard and fast for gigs that last hours.
The perfect example of a rock drummer is Dave Grohl. He was influenced a lot by John Bonham, who was the greatest rock drummer of all time, but Dave Grohl is a good modern example. He plays with big arm movements, and his power behind the kit is amazing to witness.
Here are a few other rock drummers to check out:
- Tommy Lee
- Josh Freese
- Matt Cameron
- Jon Theodore
- Kenny Aronoff
Jazz drummers are fully immersed in the world of jazz music. There are so many subgenres within the style, but the general idea of jazz is that the music is improvisational.
That means that jazz drummers are brilliant at creating things on the spot and flowing with whatever is happening in the music.
Jazz drummers are brilliant at playing drum solos, but their main role is to support other musicians while they play solos.
Jazz has gone through many changes within the 100 years that it’s been around. An old-school jazz great would be someone like Joe Jones, while a well-known modern jazz drummer would be someone like Mark Guiliana.
Many people hear the word jazz and think of swing music, but that’s only a portion of what jazz is, and many jazz drummers never play swing grooves.
Here are some of the best jazz drummers to check out:
- Elvin Jones
- Tony Williams
- Peter Erskine
- Antonio Sanchez
- Joe Morello
Funk drummers prioritize feel and groove over most other things.
You can tell someone is a funk drummer when they make a basic drum beat sound incredibly groovy and tasty. The touch that a funk drummer makes music sound so good when they’re the ones providing the rhythmic backing.
Funk is another fairly broad term when referring to the musical style, and you’ll often find funk drummers playing other styles like blues and jazz.
One of the best funk drummers of all time is Clyde Stubblefield. He played drums for James Brown, and his “Funky Drummer” groove has always been one of the most famous grooves ever recorded.
A modern example of a funk drummer would be Nate Smith. He plays a lot of jazz as well, but his drumming with bands like The Fearless Flyers and Vulfpeck shows how funky he can get. He’s someone who you could listen to playing the same groove for hours, and that’s a skill that most funk drummers have.
Here are a few more to check out:
Gospel drummers are drummers that grew up playing drums in African-American churches. There’s a huge culture around Gospel drumming, with most of the drummers being well-known for having amazing chops behind the drum kit.
These drummers are brilliant at stringing different patterns together to play intense drum fills and solos.
Most Gospel drummers end up playing pop music as well, as the style of drumming lends very well to live pop shows. When in that style, they often use electronic drum pads to support the music with electronic sounds.
One of the most famous Gospel drummers in the world is Aaron Spears. He has incredible speed and precision when playing, and he’s played with huge pop artists like Ariana Grande and Britney Spears.
Gospel drummers are also known to host drum sheds with each other. This is when multiple drummers set up kits in a room, and then they take turns playing short drum solos. They then share ideas and improve from constantly pushing themselves.
Here are a few other Gospel drummers to check out:
- Calvin Rodgers
- Teddy Campbell
- Eric Moore
- Chris Coleman
- Rashid Williams
The term worship drummer describes types of drummers that are slightly different from Gospel ones. While both types play in church, worship drummers play Christian Contemporary Music. It’s a whole style of music, with the drum parts being very specific.
Worship drummers typically play with deep snare drums, large cymbals, and large drum kits.
It’s very normal for a worship drummer to have 18” hi-hats and 24” cymbals. The cymbals also need to be thin and washy so that they blend within the mix.
A lot of worship drumming is very tom-heavy, so worship drummers are good at playing dozens of different beats using the toms.
CCM music has shaped how worship drummers play over the years, but the style of drumming is very similar for everyone that drums in churches that play it.
A good example of a popular modern worship drummer is Brendan Tan. He’s the drummer for Hillsong Young & Free.
Here are a few others to look out for:
- Austin Davis
- Payden Hilliard
- Sebastian Suarez
- Harrison J Wood
- David Whitworth
Marching drummers play in the drum line of a marching band. Unlike drum kit players, each marching drummer plays a single drum.
The drum line is formed of marching snare drums, tenor drums, bass drums, and cymbals. Marching drummers specialize in playing one of those instruments.
Marching drumming is very rudimental. Since there aren’t many different sounds to get out of a single drum, marching drummers use rudiments and dynamics to convey different ideas.
They also play every type of marching drum while standing, whereas drum kit players play while sitting on a drum throne.
Something to note about marching drummers is that many of them don’t play drum kits. You get a few that can play drum kits relatively well, but they choose to put all their time and effort into marching drumming.
Kiichi Kobayashi is a good example of someone who plays a marching snare drum brilliantly.
Here are a few other marching drummers to check out:
- Jeff Queen
- Matt Keown
- Joel Hilbert
- Connor Ferguson
- Phil Andrews
Like marching drummers, orchestral drummers don’t often play full drum kits.
The percussion section is divided up into a few parts, and orchestral drummers play snare drums, concert bass drums, and a few hand percussion instruments. They often play African drums as well.
Orchestral drummers are also very rudimental in the way they play. They have very light touches, and most of the music they play is notated down in scores.
Here are a few good orchestral drummers to check out:
- Colin Currie
- Adrian Spillet
- Simone Rubino
Metal drummers focus on precision, speed and endurance.
They’re the biggest demographic of drummers that use double kick drum pedals, with many metal drummers being able to reach incredibly high speeds while playing the bass drum.
Metal music has a very distinct sound, and metal drummers add to that by playing things like blast beats and breakdowns.
Most metal drummers also have a certain look that often includes long hair, tattoos, and wearing shorts instead of long pants. That’s not true for all metal drummers, but it’s easy to spot one!
Eloy Casagrande is one of the best metal drummers in the world at the moment. He’s a great musician to watch, as he has incredible power behind his playing, but he also plays at very high speeds.
Here are a few other good ones:
- Tomas Haake
- Chris Adler
- Matt Greiner
- Alex Rudinger
- Mike Mangini
Understanding Drumming Types
It’s important to know that these different types of drummers aren’t stuck in boxes. While someone could be known as a rock drummer, it doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t do well in a jazz band.
Some drummers prefer to stick with one style and make it known that they’re specialists in it, while others prefer to be more versatile.
A good example of a versatile drummer is Steve Jordan. Steve Jordan is often referred to as a funk drummer, but he’s played with plenty of jazz artists throughout his career. He’s currently touring with the Rolling Stones, who are one of the biggest rock bands ever.
Steve Smith is another good example of a versatile drummer. He has incredible jazz chops, as he played jazz for most of his early career. He then became the drummer for Journey, which is another one of the biggest rock bands to come out of the 20th century.
Should You Learn All Drumming Styles?
No, it’s not necessary to learn all styles of drumming. It can benefit your playing by delving into different ideas from each style, but you’re not going to enjoy playing sambas if you really don’t like listening to Latin music.
Think about the reason you started playing the drums. Is it because you love how the drum parts sound from your favorite rock bands? You should probably stick to learning rock drumming then.
If you want to be a versatile drummer, you should learn how to play rock and jazz. Those two styles have the most extreme differences, so everything in between should be easy to pick up if you’re comfortable playing both of them.
The big outlier is metal drumming. Most styles of metal require very specific styles of playing to achieve high speeds, and that way of playing doesn’t transfer over too well to more simplistic drumming styles.
There are far more styles of drumming than the ones I mentioned, so there are far more types of drummers to learn about.
However, the styles mentioned are key ones that tend to branch out into subgenres. The drummers that play in those styles tend to delve into those other ones too.
It’s really eye-opening to see all the different types of drummers playing bot acoustic drums and electronic drums.
It’s a good idea to watch a few that play styles that you’re not familiar with. That will give you a better appreciation for drumming and music in general.