How to Play a Ruff on the Snare Drum

Like all rudiments for snare drum the word “Ruff” is onomatopoeic. The word sounds like the action or the sound of the rudiment itself. It’s important to remember this so when you’re learning to play your Ruffs you will know how they’re supposed to sound.

If you can roll your “R’s” when you say the word you’ll say it just the way it’s supposed to sound on the drum.

Take a look at this video for an in depth description of how to play a RUFF.

This video was made on location on one of the Thousand Islands located on the St Lawrence River. The island is on the New York State side of the River, but you can see Canada across the water behind me in the video.

Normally when I practice my rudiments I play on my Reel Feel Practice Pad by Evans but because this video was made out doors by the water with the wind blowing I am playing on a piece of wood so that it’s easier to hear what I’m doing.

The drum sticks that I’m playing with are made by Cooperman and are the Graham C. Johns # 1 Persimmon model that you can buy at Percussion Source.

Say Ruff and roll your R’s and it should sound like “RRUFF”

A ruff is similar to a flam and played just about the same way, but instead of one grace note being played before the main note there are two.
how to play a ruff

You should practice your Ruffs alternatively. llR rrL and so on. The grace notes are played with an UP Stroke that bounces and makes two sounds and the main note or the “UFF” is played with a down stroke that rebounds only an inch or so off the head of the drum after it’s played so that stick is then ready to play the next up stroke. Be careful to start the down stroke from a high stick position and the up stroke from a low stick height position.

Make sure that the main note or the UFF is on the beat and not the “rr”. Practice this by playing just the UFF’s so that they are with the beat then add the “rr” in front of the “UFF” without changing the meter or the beat.

When you practice your RUFFS try to always play cleanly by only allowing the up stroke to bounce twice. Developing the control to do this will not only help your RUFFs sound better but you will develop more overall control in your snare drum technique.

If you want to step up your game a little bit you can learn to play the four stroke ruff drum rudiment.

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