The 21 Best Drummers in Music Right Now


By Dale W. Eisinger

Everyone gives the guitarists all the credit. And even when the light gets shined on the skin bashers, the focus is generally put on the past. But drummers are an integral part of bands, and in some cases, the crux. The primal draw is obvious, the thud of the heart, the trudge of the multitude.

But there’s something more to drumming these days, something more cerebral and cultured. Whether it’s just plain chops, structuring a grove, getting the band to move forward, or being the centerpiece of the set, in 2013, the virtuosity behind drum kits skyrockets. It's understandable you'd miss someone exceptional behind the skins, unless they hit you in the face with a stick.

But a good drummer should not, cannot, go unnoticed—so to give them the recognition they deserve we’ve cropped the 20 best.

Click to start the list

  • Hannah

    No Glenn Kotche?

  • joel

    What..? No KJ Sawka? Or Adam Deitch? How..?

  • M.Wanzer

    Wait…Where is Pat Carney??

  • bfunk

    I don’t even listen to the Dave Matthews Band that much but Carter Beauford is a beast.

  • Dave Miller

    I just scrolled through this quickly, but I don’t remember seeing Zach Hill. Comon, now…

  • khal

    Can’t front; KJ Sawka is a beast on the drumkit. Solid list though, esp with dude being all bloody.

  • Confusion

    He’s number 3 comon now

  • Bob smith

    You’ve got to be joking right? You put a girl on this list and didn’t include Dave Lombardo? Give Dave one stick and he’s still better than half this list

  • Josh

    The fact that Carter Buford of Dave Matthews Band, Bran Dailor of Mastodon, and Stef Brooks of Textures are not on this list is shamefull

  • K

    this list is poorly done. most of the videos that are used for the list are bad quality and don’t highlight the drummers’ talent. the choice and order of drummers could also use a lot of improvement.

  • Peter

    Father John Misty? Carter Beauford?

  • cmmtsundertheinflnce


  • Lawrence Burney

    Hell yeah with the Zach Hill ranking. He’s ridiculous.

  • eyez

    chris dave should be on this list. straight up.

  • teags

    Lists are….up to interpretation. Shitty video selection on the other hand?

  • Taylor

    Chris Myers from Umphreys Mcgee should at least be in the top five.

  • KG

    There are at least 10 players here that I would trade out in a heartbeat, but the simple fact that Chris Dave is not on this list renders the whole thing null and void. He is, without a doubt, one of the most relevant and progressive drummers in the industry right now. Does anyone recall his cover issue of Modern Drummer titled ‘Chris Dave is changing the way we play’ or Questlove’s own quote – ‘Chris Dave is the most dangerous drummer alive’?

    Get with it, Pigeons and Planes.

  • Parker

    No Chris Dave = No list.

  • faulknersaysrelax

    Dave King’s playing is some of the busiest, most hyperactive stuff I’ve ever heard, to say “it’s not what he puts in, but what he leaves out,” suggests this writer hasn’t heard The Bad Plus, or Happy Apple. The music-writer’s cliché-bag only works when the clichés are accurate.

  • Colineee

    Derek Roddy? lmao

  • Colineee

    That Tony guy at number 1 is like amateur lol, i could play that no sweat… where is Derek Roddy? lol

  • diggity.

    Hoping for a mention of Pridgen, got none.

  • Dooger mcdoogin

    Ha. Patrick halllahan. Would smoke these kids. And hes actually part of a good band.Stainer is close though.

  • chris

    Where the hell is danny carrey from tool????

  • Daniel Cunanan

    where’s Neil Peart?

  • KayBee

    Thomas Hedlund?!

  • JoJOn

    Neil Peart is the greatest drummer ever

  • Bryan

    No Darren King?

  • Bill

    No Brann Dailor?

  • Bore

    JayZs drummer??!! Lol…. Horrible list…where’s Gavin Harrison?

  • Scott Ross

    This list is nonsense. The fact that Chris Adler, Mike Mangini, Neil Peart, Mike Portnoy, Chad Smith, Cora Coleman-Dunham, Tré Cool, Taylor Hawkins, Chad Smith, Todd Sucherman, Chris Dave, Cindy Blackman, Dave Weckl, Danny Gottlieb, Marcus Gilmore, and Carter Beauford are ALL missing boggles the mind.

  • Domm

    Where the hell is Chris Adler?

  • ACE

    Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater absolutely should have made this list

  • Kyle

    Neil Peart?!

  • TAP

    I agree with you, Neil Peart, Chad Smith, Portnoy, and Carter Beauford, should definitely be on the list, and Steve Smith, and Stewart Copeland should be as well. Tony Royster Jr’s the only one who belongs on it, but I don’t know about the # 1 spot.

  • TAP

    I agree with you, Neil Peart, Chad Smith, Portnoy, and Carter Beauford, should definitely be on the list, and Steve Smith, and Stewart Copeland should be as well. Tony Royster Jr’s the only one who belongs on it, but I don’t know about the # 1 spot.

  • Aaron

    Check out for lessons from cool drummers

  • RC

    YES!!!!!!! HOLY HELL YES

  • Luke

    Danny Carey??? I would even include Phil Selway

  • Kazz

    Worst list ever! Mike Portnoy? Danny Carrey? Dave Weckle? Neil Peart? Marco Minnemann? Thomas Lang? Virgil Donati? Mike Mangini?

  • noloveinfear

    Carter Beauford, Danny Carey, Jon Fishman, Marco Minnemann, Vinnie Colaiuta
    Steve Gadd, Stu Copeland, Terry Bozzio… playing fast is cool and all, but the guys I just named breathe/feel/live rhythm. Dale Crover, Questlove, Brian Chase Tony Royster, and Josh Freese belong on this list. Maybe they were just terrible recordings, but I don’t see a lot of awe-inspiring talent in the videos.

  • Charlie B

    Haha, this is just a list you can’t win on. There’s too many drummers with too many styles. Tony’s number one though, we got that right. I’d like to have seen Spanky on there too, maybe Teddy Campbell, Chris Dave for sure, Freddy Boswell jr. Aaron Spears (I like those gospel dudes). But Neil Peart and those other legends are on every list mann, give it a rest. If anything, this sparked a cool discussion and we all got to check out drummers we’ve never heard about. Dale E., guy who wrote this article is actually a beast of a drummer himself. Big ups bro, long time no see haha



  • Tifosi Nelson

    Stupid list!

  • Garrett Gerhard Nayar

    A lot of these drummers suck hardcore, gets better toward #1 but common is #13 a joke?

  • JH

    Most of these drummers are NOT elite and not even close

  • Craig F

    Where the hell is Joey Castillo???

  • kepnx

    This list is mostly…embarrassing! Not that
    women can’t be good drummers but it seemed hormones were running rampant on this list! THREE!?

  • kepnx

    Someone that would compare and also belong on this list is Animal from the Muppets! I’m just saying…

  • kepnx

    Damn, I was so uninterested in this list that I didn’t realize there is actually FOUR frickin’ women on this list! You gotta be kidding me!!! I know I’m gonna hear it after I say this – but I’m not sure I know four good female drummers! I don’t mean this; I’m just trying to make my point!

  • Semper Fido

    You have absolutely gotta be kidding me. My brother is a studio drummer, and he smokes them all. That tells you what this list means. Peter Chris from KISS is a better drummer than all of this lot.

  • Semper Fido

    Don’t forget Tim Alexander. He doesn’t get the credit he deserves all too often.

  • JB smoove

    Decent job displaying the “best” drummers in music RIGHT NOW. Most of these guys have been pushing boundaries either recently (like Fox) or finally getting acknowledged for their years of innovation (Chippendale). I think the reality is that guys like Neil Peart, influential as they are, haven’t really down much for the art-form of percussion in decades. Inevitably there will be those who questionably missed the cut (Dailor, Beauford, Carey, Harrison, Blake Richardson), but what truly shocks me is that Jojo Mayer, widely regarded by many serious players as the PINNACLE of modern drumming for the last decade, doesn’t get a mention anywhere. Most (MOST) of these guys rose to prominence with their respective bands, whereas i feel like Jojo is viewed more as a stellar drummer/musician/creator that transcends whatever ensemble he’s with at the time. These lists are by their nature limiting, and they also tend to focus HEAVILY on rock when there are legions of killer jazz guys out there that deserve lots o’ props. That being said, this is, in my opinion, the best drummer list I’ve found. Very diverse group wherein each drummer masterfully blends technique and style. At the very least, this list forces the reader to reevaluate how they look at (even their own) drumming.

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