Video: Funk drumming masterclass with Ralph Rolle part one

Ralph Rolle of Nile Rodgers & Chic sat at Yamaha Tour Custom drum kit
Ralph Rolle of Nile Rodgers & Chic (Image credit: Future Publishing)


Ralph Rolle occupies one of the grooviest drum chairs on the planet. As well as his current job, holding down the foundation for disco/funk legends Nile Rogers & Chic, Ralph has also played for an impressive list of funk, soul, hip-hop artists and beyond, with a CV boasting Stevie Wonder, D’Angelo, Notorious B.I.G., Roger Daltrey, Bono and many, many more.


Armed with our cameras, we met Ralph at Yamaha’s UK HQ where he took the time to share some of his favourite funk and disco concepts, as well as important advice on how to approach your drumming goals.

Chic 'Good Times' main groove

In part one of our video masterclass, Ralph breaks down how he performs the main groove from Chic's 'Good Times', using a Roland SPD-SX to provide percussion and clap sounds. 

Funk drumming: Ghost notes and dynamics

In our second video, Ralph shows us how he uses ghost notes on the snare and varied hi-hat dynamics to change the feel of a funk beat.

We'll be uploading the second part of Ralph's masterclass on 21st May, so check back!

Ralph Rolle's kit

Thanks to Yamaha, Zildjian and Remo for supplying the gear used in this masterclass. 

Drums: Yamaha Tour Custom (maple shells)
Toms: 10” x 7” 12” x 8”, 16” x 15”
Bass drum: 22 x 16”
Snare Drum: Yamaha Tour Custom 14 x 6.5”

Zildjian: 13” K hi-hats, 10” A Custom Splash, 16” A Custom Fast Crash, 16” A Custom Medium Crash, 17” K Custom Hybrid Crash, 17” K China, 20” A Custom Ride

Remo Ambassador Coated, Powerstroke P3 Clear bass drum batter

Roland SPD-SX 

Stuart Williams

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.