Bassists trying to emulate the sound of a double bass sometimes pluck the strings with their thumb and use palm-muting to create a short, "thumpy" tone. Monk Montgomery (who played in Lionel Hampton's big band) and Bruce Palmer (who performed with Buffalo Springfield) use thumb downstrokes. The use of the thumb was acknowledged by early Fender models, which came with a "thumbrest" or "Tug Bar" attached to the pickguard below the strings. Contrary to its name, this was not used to rest the thumb, but to provide leverage while using the thumb to pluck the strings. The thumbrest was moved above the strings in 1970s models (as a true thumbrest) and eliminated in the 1980s. Nevertheless, some reissued versions of vintage Fender basses in the 2010s do include a thumbrest.
Electronic drum pads are the second most widely used type of MIDI performance controllers, after electronic music keyboards.:319–320 Drum controllers may be built into drum machines, they may be standalone control surfaces (e.g., rubber drum pads), or they may emulate the look and feel of acoustic percussion instruments. The pads built into drum machines are typically too small and fragile to be played with sticks, and they are usually played with fingers.:88 Dedicated drum pads such as the Roland Octapad or the DrumKAT are playable with the hands or with sticks, and are often built to resemble the general form of a drum kit. There are also percussion controllers such as the vibraphone-style MalletKAT,:88–91 and Don Buchla's Marimba Lumina.
A unique effect can be created by striking an open hi-hat (i.e., in which the two cymbals are apart) and then closing the cymbals with the foot pedal; this effect is widely used in disco and funk. The hi-hat has a similar function to the ride cymbal. The two are rarely played consistently for long periods at the same time, but one or the other is used to keep the faster-moving rhythms (e.g., sixteenth notes) much of the time in a song. The hi-hats are played by the right stick of a right-handed drummer. Changing between ride and hi-hat, or between either and a "leaner" sound with neither, is often used to mark a change from one passage to another, for example; to distinguish between a verse and chorus.
By World War I, drum kits were often marching band-style military bass drums with many percussion items suspended on and around them. Drum kits became a central part of jazz music, especially Dixieland. The modern drum kit was developed in the Vaudeville era during the 1920s in New Orleans. In 1917, a New Orleans band called "The Original Dixieland Jazz Band " recorded jazz tunes that became hits all over the country. These were the first official jazz recordings. Drummers such as Baby Dodds, "Zutty" Singleton and Ray Bauduc had taken the idea of marching rhythms, combining the bass drum and snare drum and "traps", a term used to refer to the percussion instruments associated with immigrant groups, which included miniature cymbals, tom toms, cowbells and woodblocks. They started incorporating these elements with ragtime, which had been popular for a couple of decades, creating an approach which evolved into a jazz drumming style.
Bass solos are performed using a range of different techniques, such as plucking or fingerpicking. In the 1960s, The Who's bassist, John Entwistle, performed a bass break on the song "My Generation" using a plectrum. He originally intended to use his fingers, but could not put his plectrum down quickly enough. This is considered as one of the first bass solos in rock music, and also one of the most recognizable. Led Zeppelin's "Good Times Bad Times", the first song on their first album, contains two brief bass solos, occurring after the song's first and third choruses. Queen's bassist, John Deacon, occasionally played bass solos, such as on the song "Liar". Metallica's 1983 debut Kill Em All includes the song "(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth," consisting entirely of a bass solo played by Cliff Burton.
The electric bass is a relative newcomer to the world of jazz. The big bands of the 1930s and 1940s Swing era and the small combos of the 1950s Bebop and Hard Bop movements all used the double bass. The electric bass was introduced in some bands in the 1950s and it became prominent during the late 1960s and early 1970s, when rock influences were blended with jazz to create jazz-rock fusion.
Drum kit music is either written down in music notation (called "drum parts"), learned and played "by ear", improvised or some combination of some or all three of these methods. Professional session musician drummers and Big Band jazz drummers are often required to read drum parts. Drum parts are most commonly written on a standard five-line staff. In 2016, a special percussion clef is used, while previously the bass clef was used. However, even if the bass or no clef is used, each line and space is assigned an instrument of the kit, rather than to a pitch. In jazz, traditional music, folk music, rock music and pop music, drummers are expected to be able to learn songs by ear (from a recording or from another musician who is playing or singing the song) and improvise. The degree of improvisation differs in different styles. Jazz and jazz fusion drummers may have lengthy improvised solos in every song. In rock music and blues, there are also drum solos in some songs, although they tend to be shorter than those in jazz. Drummers in all popular music and traditional music styles are expected to be able to improvise accompaniment parts to songs, once they are told the genre or style (e.g., shuffle, ballad, slow blues, etc.).
The type of shell also affects the sound of a drum. Because the vibrations resonate in the shell of the drum, the shell can be used to increase the volume and to manipulate the type of sound produced. The larger the diameter of the shell, the lower the pitch. The larger the depth of the drum, the louder the volume. Shell thickness also determines the volume of drums. Thicker shells produce louder drums. Mahogany raises the frequency of low pitches and keeps higher frequencies at about the same speed. When choosing a set of shells, a jazz drummer may want smaller maple shells, while a rock drummer may want larger birch shells. For more information about tuning drums or the physics of a drum, visit the external links listed below.
When a floor tom is added to make a four-piece kit, the floor tom is usually 14" for jazz, and 16" otherwise. This configuration is usually common in jazz, classic rock and rock and roll. Notable users include Ringo Starr in The Beatles, Mitch Mitchell in the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and John Barbata in the Turtles. For jazz, which normally emphasizes the use of ride cymbal, the lack of second hanging tom in a four-piece kit allows the cymbal to be positioned closer to the drummer, making them easier to be struck.
There are a range of different string types including all-metal strings, which are available in many varieties of winding or finishing, each of which produce different tone, including roundwound, flatwound, halfwound, ground wound, and pressure wound); as well as metal strings with different coverings, such as tapewound and wound with plastic coatings. The variety of materials used in the strings gives bass players a range of tonal options. In the 1950s and early 1960s, bassists mostly used flatwound strings with a smooth surface, which had a smooth, damped sound reminiscent of a double bass. In the late 1960s and 1970s, players began using roundwound bass strings, which produce a brighter tone similar to steel guitar strings, though flatwounds also remained in use by players seeking a vintage tone. Roundwounds have a brighter timbre (tone) with longer sustain than flatwounds.