A thumb roll is a wonderful technique to be able to perform when you need to play a quiet roll on a tambourine.
The first thing you need to do is to get your tambourine a little sticky. I use bee’s wax, but you can use rosin or the Grover Roll Ring to make your thumb rolls really easy to play. Just rub the bee’s wax all over the drum head or apply the Roll Ring which is a fine sand paper that can stick to the head. You can also lick your thumb to wet it slightly to make it a little tackier.
Hold the tambourine in a normal playing position with the drum in your left hand at a 45 degree angle. Thinking of the drum head as a clock face, you are holding the tambourine at the 6 o’clock position so start your roll by placing your thumb at 5 o’clock and press slightly against the instrument while pushing your thumb counter clockwise along the head’s edge towards 12 o’clock.
Your thumb grips the head of the tambourine and bounces across the head making the jingles jingle in a quiet roll.
Try a Figure of 8 on the Tambourine
Once you have the thumb roll working try to move your thumb in a figure of 8 pattern around the edge of the head so that you make a continuous thumb roll.