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The Single-Stroke Four (Four-Stroke Ruff) by Joel Rothman

Mar 12, 2022, 08:00 AM by Rhythm Scene Staff

The Single-Stroke Four, which I prefer to call the Four-Stroke Ruff, is one of the most lovely sounding rhythmic embellishments played by drummers, especially when executed perfectly, either with brushes or sticks. And it is used quite often by most players. But the ruff is not easy to perform correctly every time. I’ve heard even top-notch drummers mess it up once in a while. The exercises below will go a long way in helping any drummer develop or polish up this wonderful rudiment.

The ruffs are notated in “open” form within patterns of sixteenth notes and eighth-note triplets. Obviously, as you increase the tempo, the notes of the ruffs become closer so that eventually they sound “closed."

Once you’ve mastered each exercise on the snare, try splitting the notes between the snare, toms, and bass on the drum set.

Rothman Single-Stroke-Four 16ths

Rothman Single-Stroke-Four-Triplets

Joel RothmanJoel Rothman is the writer and publisher of almost 100 drum and percussion books. They can all be found on his website (, or you can contact Joel at

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