"Appropriate Finishes"

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Regarding the thread about pink drums (or not pink drums) I think it's fair to address the issue of wildly colored drumsets. Some here think its a masculinity issue, some have no problems with it (I certainly don't). So I'm not gonna jump on any bandwagon about 'social orientation' or anything, but there is something one should think about when choosing a color.

I like the wild colors, and really dug it when Tony Williams came out with that yellow Gretsch kit - I secretly dug it even more when he had his DW yellow kit, with RED hardware and black dot heads - but apparently nobody else did.

But, if you want to work, unless you're Tony Williams, a little more subdued is best. I've done a few weddings and casuals in my time, and the one thing you cannot do is upstage the bride. This is a reason why for years, sparkles were good, other pearls were good, or a solid color, like black, white, blue or red, were extremely popular, and still are. The last thing anyone wants (especially the contractor) on the bandstand is an eye-sore. Same for mismatched colors, and just plain dilapidated equipment. People paying money for a band expect a professional look as well as attitude, and even if it's not paying you what you think you're worth, you gotta grin and bear it because they'll be telling their friends who hire bands about you guys in the band.

Most of us rectify this situation by having more than one set. I love my lipstick red Granstars, but I also own those black oyster pearl Starclassics. Depending on where I'll be playing, will determine which kit I bring out. If they say I have to be in a tuxedo for a high society gig that's generally in black and white, then the lipstick red kit stays home. There was a time when I owned a DW zebra finish ply kit which actually worked out for these b&w jobs while still looking a little wild, but that's my only exception.

Really, I love the wild finishes, but I feel a company like Sonor isn't doing you a favor when they get you hooked on their red tribal finish, or something tiger striped, or that weird bluish wood grain wallpaper thingy. Those are rockstar finishes, so I say if you're going to go that route, you don't pick it for your little bebop jazz kit - you use it for your double bass wall-sized kit and go BIG! When you go back to regular work drumming, keep a white marine pearl or something more subtle around.

I remember when Myron Grombacher was huge with Pat Benatar, and he was doing all these crazy artistic designs, which got crazier when he went with Tama after leaving Ludwig, and he alone I think pushed many drum companies to start cranking out wild finishes on their Export sets being sold to the kids. They're still out there as the last wedding I went to as a guest I saw a Pearl Export kit with this Japanese rising sun design on the drums. The band knew it, they kept the singers in front of it on the bandstand too ;)

So, just a thought when you go out drum shopping: are you a rockstar or are you trying to work and get more work? Two very different trains of thought, and unfortunately, make the drum companies even more money because many of us own two or more kits! It used to be that Ludwig could claim that there's at least one Ringo kit in every four households worldwide (I'm making that up) but even if that's not true, with less households with drums, means there's multiple drumsets in less houses!
 
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Talismanis

Senior Member
I'm all for a sleek black look. It works for just about every situation, and looks professional and cool as hell.
 

Nickropolis

Senior Member
I'll second black, it works for everything.

Although, if done tastefully and you have a slightly artistic flair you can pull of combinations you might not think possible. Like you said, the zebra worked, you just have to own it, make it work for you.
 

larryz

Platinum Member
Must get white marine pearl vintage Slingerlands...now. I don't know Bo, I thnk your red Granstars would be ok at a wedding. You know, the whole "Lady in Red", Chris DeBurgh thing...
 

Anduin

Pioneer Member
Something else to think about is drum colour under stage lights. Sure, your cool n groovy new yellow-tiger-in-a-blender kit looks great under regular room lighting, but put it under some blue gels and it suddenly looks like yesterday’s lunch regurgitated.
 

BradGunnerSGT

Silver Member
I agree, especially with the Sonor thing. Someone put up a post about their new Sonor kit a couple of days ago and they were gushing about when they saw Joe Famous Drummer playing a kit just like it a couple of years ago and how when they got it home they loved it sooooo much.....and I thought it was one of the ugliest things around. I respectfully didn't say anything on his thread but I've looked at some of the finishes available on the Sonor custom configurator tool and man do they make my eyes hurt.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
A few of my friends have told me they think my red to black fade on my birch kit is "loud"... I disagree, I loved it from the moment I saw them.

Not my drums, but this is the color.


I guess they're lucky I didn't go with a sparkle on my wrapped kit. I love a good silver or red sparkle too. In bad taste? No idea.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I would agree with Brad on this. I love Sonor drums and I love natural wood but some of the wood grains look very fake. I'm sure Brady drums are the same way. Great drums and natural woods but some of those grain patterns I would grow very tired of a little too quickly for what they cost. I think that also may hamper the resale market as well. Snares are usually hidden behind the kit os it's not a problem but some of the wood is a bit much. White marine pearl , piano black, subdued black sparkle, are fine by me. I even have a Yellow with black stripe kit I made that I would be very careful as to where I took it. It was done as more of a novelty so I don't wish to sound too much the hypocrite and have that thrown back in my face. Very good thread Bo and it appears you have been there and know of what you speak.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
My major concern about drum finishes is that I don't want to look like a goofball to the other musicians on the gig. I don't believe finishes project to the audience all that much; stage lights tend to wash out bright colors, and patterned or textured-looking finishes don't read strongly more than ten or fifteen feet away. And the presence of musicians on stage will hopefully blow away any interest in the colored plastic wrap on your drums. I think the most you can ask of a finish is that it look special enough when the musicians are offstage that it sets up an expectation of a special performance to come.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Great topic. I rocked a set of clear drums once. Playing blues, it just did not go over. I traded them in shortly afterwards. I know that certain front people want to be the center of attention and don't want some attention grabbing drummer. I like it better when a drummer doesn't try to stick out, but I'm boring. I like it when the drummer can really groove well and is modest.

Hot dog, "look at me" loud, vocal, blowhard drummers make me cringe. I feel ashamed to play the same instrument as them sometimes.

But this thread is about finishes. As in most things drumming, it's better to blend in than be stuck out. Said by a boring guy.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
I think the most you can ask of a finish is that it look special enough when the musicians are offstage that it sets up an expectation of a special performance to come.
+1

I like beauty in a finish - the natural wood or a beautiful colour. I think DeathMetalConga's kit is the most beautiful kit of manageable size that I've seen.

I've been lucky - my old Rogers was a gorgeous sky blue (I think called Pacific Blue) and my Red Wine RT / Frankenstein is quite a sight.

I'd still like to have a pink kit. If you see a pink kit you'll figure a band's going to be fun.

Edit: Larry, funny how a kit's finish reflects the value system of the drummer - and of the band, who have to be comfortable with whatever image a kit is projecting. Yeah, I can imagine blues guys thinking you're a real mug lair (translated from Oz: lout, gauche showoff) for having a clear kit. "Hey kid, wanna play Whole Lotta Love, do you? hur hur" ;-)

In some scenes you have to be conservative and in others it's an advantage to be way out there. I've never played a wedding (the band played two of them while I was looking after Dad) but Glenn tells me they're a pain and he doesn't want to do any more.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I guess its hard to come up with a blanket essay about a blanket subject because everyone's experience will be a little different. I say if the finish works and nobody minds, more power to ya'. But I've been in and seen those situations where it just didn't work. Had a piano player show up with a bright red keyboard, and some people couldn't get past that. I was praised in a rock band setting about my lipstick red drums, so that was cool. I'm just saying don't bring your flaming red Flying V to a jazz gig where the Gibson jazz box would've been a better choice.

And I concur on the lighting issues. This is why white is a great color - it tends to reflect the colors that are pointed on it. Any other color and whatever you saw in the store and at home just disappears! Black just becomes a shadow and red becomes almost this certain shade of vomit ;) Wood grains disappear, as much as I love me a good wood kit, and with colored lighting becomes pretty unattractive, I think.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
On important gigs, I light my own kit. For my burst finish, which is actually blue paint, but appears greenish because of the yellow color of the veneer, I figured out that an amber light best complimented the color and grain. So I have clip on lights with amber bulbs (not just any amber bulbs, Westinghouse amber bulbs look best) that I clamp onto my stands. They really bring out the exotic grain and make my dark finished drums look way classy.


A little off topic but related...You know those new LED stage lights? They make everything and everyone look ghastly. Plus the glare from that light is in a class by itself. I really detest the look of LED "PAR" lights.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
... but there is something one should think about when choosing a color.
Agreed. Most people know what kind of band they want to be in, before they join a band. You don't get a neon green double-bassed monster if you're gonna play in a blues band. And some drums only scream a few genres of music. Gregg Bissonette's Pearl drums looked really cool, in the David Lee Roth "Eat 'Em And Smile" arena shows ...... and that's about all they were good for. Sat for years and years at Jammin' Jersey's ..... I don't know if someone ever bought them, or they traded for them, or what.​
Most of us rectify this situation by having more than one set.
Indeed, drums are tools. The right tool, for the job.​
 

Toolate

Platinum Member
There was a set of RCI acrylics for sale on Craig's here for almost a year for $1500. 28" kick, 10,12,14,16,18 toms. With gibraltar rack.

Sat forever because they had American flags all over them. I wanted them so bad but didn't get the gig ti play half time at the super bowl so I didn't buy. Even called rci to see if I could refinish them but the flags are cast into the acrylic.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
A little off topic but related...You know those new LED stage lights? They make everything and everyone look ghastly. Plus the glare from that light is in a class by itself. I really detest the look of LED "PAR" lights.
Do they stay cooler, though? I've been under some lights that were relatively uncomfortable on a warm night while drumming away.
 

toddmc

Gold Member
I'd have to say it's a very simple decision: If you're not gigging and the kit is for home use only, then by all means go out and buy a vomit coloured kit if that's what turns you on.
If you're a working drummer who has to play a variety of styles and venues then yeah, probably better to stick with a more subdued finish lest your vomit-kit causes offence! : )
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Do they stay cooler, though? I've been under some lights that were relatively uncomfortable on a warm night while drumming away.
Yeah, LED's run much cooler, in fact, they're downright cold, but the look takes some getting used to. I'm sure the technology is getting better all the time and soon LED's will be used for all manner of stage lighting. I tell you though, I set up a kit on one of our stages in the damp coldness of morning (SIR delivered the kit at 4AM) and when the gig happened after it had been sitting outside on this stage all day while the crew worked around the gear and did a soundcheck, when the night fell and the non-LED lights went up, it was easily about 100 degrees on stage. Poor drums ;)
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
A little off topic but related...You know those new LED stage lights? They make everything and everyone look ghastly. Plus the glare from that light is in a class by itself. I really detest the look of LED "PAR" lights.
The hobby stuff isn't as rich as the incandescent stuff, but the pro stuff is good. We use fittings with multiple10 / 50watt RBGW units that colour mix in the "bulb", & they kill traditional pars.

Chrome wraps always look great under stage lighting. Whether they're "appropriate" for some gigs is another matter (wear white cotton gloves for setup & breakdown though). Shiny cymbals can easily add enough bling in most gigs, especially if you point pinspots at the top of them & under light the kit. When struck, they put on their own light display.
 
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