Advanced Mike Johnston Groove Solo

Drum enthusiasts and Youtube followers among you will be well-aware of the awesome drummer that is Mike Johnston. If you aren’t, his videos are well worth checking out for inspiration on solos, grooves, fills and linear playing. He has released some epic clips of his own solos that include a range of drum voices and dynamics, one of which has inspired this article.


Mike Johnston 2 Minute Solo


In April 2015 Mike Johnston published a 2 minute groove solo that, for me, provides a really fun example for fans of funky and jazz fusion drumming. Below I have written out an interpretation (and slightly simpler version!) of Mike’s groove solo for you to have a go at.


mike johnston solo snip


Like Mike Johnston’s video, the charts include accents, double strokes, rim shots, ghost notes, half open hi-hats and other dynamics, mixing it up with quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes and some thirty second notes. Pretty tricky at first, but once the general groove of bars 1, 3, 5 and 7 has been figured out, it really starts to flow nicely.

The 9 bars I have written out are all played on the hi-hat, snare and bass drum only. Take your time with it, committing the sticking to muscle memory before concentrating further on dynamics.


Once this groove is flowing, I would suggest experimenting with some fills. For example, I have included some David Garibaldi esque fills on beats 3 and 4 in bars 2, 4, 6 and 8. Follow these by all means; this groove however provides a great foundation for fills of all shapes and sizes.


You can watch the full Mike Johnston groove solo here to grab more inspiration for groove independence and fills. If you haven’t already, also check out his new Groove Freedom app.


white line


Part of the series of drum tips. Written by drum tutor James. Drum lessons are available at Booths Music in Bolton town centre on a daily basis. Please ring 01204 522908 for more details or enquire in the form below.


See also:

Paradiddle Exercises for Beginners.

Double Strokes: Tips on technique.


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