Learn To Finger Drum: Mad Zach’s Basic Tutorial

With the rise in live performers who are using finger drumming techniques in their shows, it’s become apparent that learning how to play beats on a MIDI controller is yet another way to rise to the top for DJs and producers. In this article Mad Zach will provide you with a free tutorial on how to get started with only a keyboard, along with a full length 30 minute tutorial that goes into even greater depth.

The truth is, you don’t need a fancy MIDI controller to get started playing beats (although it makes a difference when you get to advanced techniques), just your computer keyboard is a great place to start. That’s why Mad Zach uses a keyboard in the above video – as learning the fundamentals of what he’s teaching doesn’t require special tools.

Improved finger drumming abilities translate to a number of DJ and producer related skills, from jamming out on cue points to live recording a drum track for a new remix – it’s a great way to become a more well-rounded musician overall.

The full-length tutorial is available here for $10


As noted in the video, Mad Zach has split up the full video into 5 easy-to-follow lessons. Here’s what you’ll learn in the full tutorial:

  • Lesson 1: Ergonomic and Sample Layout:  The first, most critical thing when you’re learning finger drumming is ergonomics. You’ve probably heard the word “ergonomics” mostly in the context of office furniture and fancy pens, but all it really means is the study of efficiency in working environments. And you about to do some work on this beat so we need to get you as efficient as possible!
  • Lesson 2: Beats to Practice:  Practice makes perfect, but its hard when you don’t know what to practice! In this lesson Mad Zach shows us a ton of different beats to practice, mainly focused on the right hand and drums.
  • Lesson 3: Techniques for the Left Hand: Once we’ve got the beat groovin’ on the right hand its time to bring in some basslines and atmospheres on the left. We start simple and work up to some more complicated grooves, there’s a lot of different
  • Lesson 4: Fills and Flourishes: A routine can get pretty stagnant if it just loops endlessly, in lesson 4 MZ introduces us to one of his favorite fills, and shows off some techniques for varying up the beat and adding some “spice.”
  • Lesson 5: Advanced Techniques: In the final section we take the routine to the frontier of controllerism with advanced techniques like crabbing, envelope tickling, and using risers to transition between energy levels.
  • BONUS Level: Practicing a Routine: As a culmination of the techniques shown in the tutorial, Mad Zach walks us through a complete routine that incorporates all the elements shown in the tutorial.

finger drummingfinger drumming techniquesmad zachplaying beats on MIDI contorllersTutorial
Comments (55)
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  • Kuan

    Hi, I just wonder what software Zach uses in this video on Mac?

  • cali

    i dont even know how to set up this 😀 i have dl the free pack u test it but yeah, now i have waves and some alp file..how do i use my keyboard with this 😀

  • Ross

    I had purchase the tutorial on the finger drumming. However, I’m disappointed as the video tends to freeze up even when the audio keeps on playing. It would be better if by hitting the pause button, the video can load up fully thus stopping the freezing of the video.

  • Awell Jr

    10 Dollars for this is almost nothing in my opinion.
    Great introduction tutorial Zac and keep up with this articles!

    Personally, DJ TechTools has been my number one source for dj’ing and controllerism since I first started out, so thank you guys!

  • Chris Hurst

    simple for me: make a PC version and I’ll buy the video/soundpack/app. Thanks!

  • BumBum

    Will there be software for PC too?

  • pmgo drums

    any chance for maybe private one on one lessons? I got the basics but could really benefit from a lesson on song form, and putting together a set. i enjoy finger drumming, and shed it a lot, but how do you take it outta the bedroom onto stage. dont you get tired?

  • ????

    ??? ??????? ????? ????????? ?? ???????

  • Zach Beydoun

    could you give us the app he has as a 99 cent download through the mac app store?

  • ???????


  • 0bli0 Jonez

    Can you put a copy of the video in the downloads? it’s hard to keep going back to practice in section two as it takes forever to reload (im on a fast net connection but overseas)

  • NoHero

    I read all the comments and saw peoples views on DJ Tech Tools charging for a video. I didn’t let those views put me off as I believe in paying for good content. I could go and get some finger drumming tutorials off youtube if I didn’t want to pay, but these are from a decent source and lets face it VERY cheap.

    I’m so glad I did! Excellent video with plenty of practice routines and samples to use. Good quality and easy to access from anywhere. It’s very inspiring and I am dying to get stuck in to this.

    I am going to try these on my Maschine and might even grab another controller. I can even see me using these skills with Traktor DJ iPad on the freeze mode or in sample decks.

    If I have to dig for a negative, it’s that I would like to download the video to watch offline. Is that possible?

  • Doudou

    What is the software on the laptop

  • Shawnyd

    DJTT never fails to impress me! Thanks for all the info, support and just plain awesome that you equip us with! Mad Zach’s Beta application feels great! I cant wait to send him some feedback on how I use it. Thanks again!

  • Brandon

    $10 for a much more in-depth tutorial that complements the FREE videos that have already been posted. I can’t believe there’s ANYONE out there bitching about this. Don’t go to the bars one night and you’ll have MORE than enough money to pay for a great tutorial. Geez people…

  • Alex Kies

    Ive been stoked on Mad Zachs soundpack application for weeks now, and just figured out its only for Mac?! Hopefully a Windows version comes out ASAP for me and every other DJ who refuses to dish out wayyyy too much $$$$ for a computer just because it has a piece of fruit on it.

  • Dave

    Personally, the 27 minute video was well worth the $10 – plus there are downloads etc, to go along with it. It really is a complete class in finger drumming…

    Just one request – even just a txt document with the actual finger taps for each pattern would be nice – I spend a lot of time watching the patterns over and over to get the fingering down, and some of them are quite fast.

  • Slak Jaw

    I have a question for Mad Zach.
    Is it possible to incorporate finger drumming into my Traktor setup without using a Kontrol F1 or MidiFighter 3D? I currently use Traktor Pro 2.6.1 with a VCI-400 EGE. I also own a MidiFighter Pro, MidiFighter Classic and QuNeo. I’m very interested in this tutorial and adding finger drumming to my live Traktor performance, but I don’t want to purchase any additional software or hardware at this point (unless you guys are interested in doing a trade in on my two existing MidiFighters). Thanks and great article by the way!

  • Simon Heiss

    I just bought it, and it would have been really awesome, if the practice routines would be described a bit better, like in a pdf-sheet or something. It would be cool, to look it up quickly. I don´t know a lot about drum notes, but something similar would really help. Trying to remember the stuff only by seeing it seems to be really hard for me, as someone who is just starting right now :/
    edit: i just tried to write the notes down, but i allready failed multiple times at practice lesson 2 :/

  • Zach's friend

    Zach do you even lift?

  • Alexio Beez

    Tutorial?What do you explain/teach it the 5 minutes video?..It`s just a demo 😉

  • Keeb

    Can’t say I mind that much that it’s a pay-for-content item. What I mind is that I have to go into every blog article asking “am I being suckered into watching an advertisement right now or is this useful info?” A “commercial” tag or something of the like would be appreciated as a long-time DJTT reader.

  • Name

    Nice tutorial, but the Beats to practice wasn’t slow enough for me. 🙂

  • Jetfuel

    where can i find this sound pack performer?

    • Mad Zach

      it should be in your my.djtechtools downloads tab once you finish your purchase

  • Chaser720

    Ive been trying to do something like this in Traktor using cue points but this video and soundpack gave me solid a push in the right direction. Really surprised how helpful it was.

    Would be great to have a slow motion of the video though to break down some of the finger motions in the practice beats section.

    Overall great work with this and if your on the border of spending the $10 bucks or not then I would suggest making the purchase.

  • Mark

    hey i’ve been interested in this for a really long time now! i have one question…what simple and free program can i get for finger drumming? i noticed at the end of the article you guys mentioned a free “soundpack performer” for mac and that sounds really cool but i have a PC 🙁

    keep up the great work DJTT

    • Mad Zach

      there’s a beta of my new soundpack player included in the purchase

      • Mark

        will this work with PC as well as mac though?

  • SonSon

    If you build it, we will come. I’m really diggin these tutorials especially the sample pack bundle you just released. The price fit the benefits, so I’m sure this will too. Thanks!

  • drew

    i’ve definitely gotten more than $10 worth of content from this site, stoked to be able to support it and get some quality tutelage on the cheap. and zach is so handsome! what a deal.

  • Kurt

    Looks great! I only wish there’d been a brief demo of (or at least a look at) the software included, but I’ll probably end up getting it anyway. Looks like just about what I need!

    • Mad Zach

      soon, soon 🙂

  • Dalton Conner

    What’s with all the negative Nancy’s here? I personally am more than happy to spend my money here at DJTT. It makes me happy to know I’m supporting such a great company. If you think about it; for what you’re paying you’re getting an insane deal. Believe it or not but the free content DJTT dishes out is not actually free. They put a lot of time and effort into what they give us. No need to be negative.

    • Brandon

      I’ve watched SO many videos with great and detailed information and yet haven’t bought anything from the store yet. $10 for an in-depth tutorial that compliments the other finger drumming video he put out is MORE than worth it. Everyone bitching just feels entitled that they should get everything for free “just because”.

  • chrillmusic

    afraid to hit buy after killian’s post I am very interested in the app and how it works with midi controls and its all around ability to handle a live performance

  • Kilian Kerner

    Bought it, but the link for the download says “doesn’t exist”. Please fix this.

    • Aes

      They really need to step their game up with the store… I’ve spent several hundred dollars over the course of a year and I have some sort of issue almost every time I make a purchase (albeit sometimes in my favor)…dead links, improper charges, difficulty configuring/building the device (Midi Fighter), incorrect/lost order, etc.

      • Ean Golden

        sorry to hear you had problems in the store. We try really hard to make everything in DJTT land very easy and fun to use but sometimes bugs pop up. If anyone ever has a problem, you are all welcome to email me directly and we will do anything possible to correct it right away.

    • Spacecamp

      These are now working! Thanks for letting us know you were having issues.

      • Morpse

        Almost: you have the WAV and alp packs swapped. Not a huge deal.

  • David

    isn’t this like the fourth article that is about this or an extremely similar topic?

    • Spacecamp

      David – you’re right! We have published some very basic finger drumming in short articles and videos in the past – but this is a 27 minute long video. You can think of this as a complete “class” in video form that gives you everything you need to get started working on finger drumming mastery

  • =( =( =(

    goodbye dj techtools that shared full lenght tutorials and stuff with us for free 🙁

    • Alvaro Sandoval

      they gotta make money, yo! just like people that pay for music because they want quality products, people that pay for quality tutorials will also receive quality products.

    • Lapinfuu

      Everybody need to eat,
      They make a bet on this website and the actual DJ community growing and growing make them win this bet, so respect that stop whine about 10$ that would be better investment in this tutorial than in any gear. Thanks DJTT for your work.

    • Ean Golden

      There is a 5 minutes tutorial here for free which gives you the basics of finger-drumming. Then we shot another 30 minutes for those that wanted to go a little bit deeper. The full version is paid, but there will always be great free content for everyone. I agree that we could have made the free version even more valuable, and will certainly do so in the future! Thank you for your feedback.

      • Daniel Dow

        In support of Ean and the rest of the staff, 5 minutes of basic video and 30 minutes more you can pay for is completely reasonable, also if you combine this and watch mad zachs last fingerdrumming tutorial on the white midifighter pro, you should have hours of practice ahead before you need the advanced video.

        However, Ean have you guys thought about including some paid tutorials or access to all, or maybe just 2 or 3 per purchase with sales from the djtt store? Im sure those of us who purchased a MF3D all would love to support djtt more but it seems fairly reasonable for us to have access to a more advanced tutorial for registering products or something to that point.

        Just suggestions though, keep doing what you guys are doing, I’ll still read daily.

        • Ean Golden

          great point! some free content and tutorials with a MF purchase makes a lot of sense.

        • PinkUnicorn

          I applaud DJTT’s entrepreneurship with their unique products and community. I just wanted to relate that I came here looking for the ‘free packs’ but now it seems they are now bundled and for sale. Fair enough, it’s a free market where everything can be bought and sold. Though this sample pack appears to be a good product, the price point is indeed subject to criticisms I see here in this thread… here’s why:

          Posted over the years, there have been many partial and full Ableton tutorials on Youtube with links to downloads that offer pre-monetized vids and/or additional downloads produced by both individual proprietors and educational institutions. All monetized video and download offers compete with the free. Live tutorial makers, like Tom Cosm for example, offer for free what could a hundred+ hours of how-to in Live. Everything for sale on Youtube is competing against this one guy let alone wealth of free videos by posters similar to him. Granted he clearly has also made a bid to monetize a product, the wealth of what he has for free relative to Zach’s product is perhaps arguably makes Zach’s bid premature. And of course, Zach’s product is not exactly Tom’s, but there is plenty of crossover information; and, there’s other figure drumming tutorials. So that being said, the monetizing of figure drumming tutorials and sound packs has an obvious barrier to market. That barrier is that it competes with ‘free’ whether Zach’s product $30, $100 or $1.

          Now, I may to be not necessarily flamed for this post but perhaps at least countered by DJTT users and/or business partners. I can read them already in this thread. But, whatever. That’s just smart PR.

    • SL

      You do understand this here is a business, right? You won’t pay for a video but I bet you pay for sex.