Drum Etiquette at Open Jams

Aeolian

Platinum Member
I find the one-up, one-down, two-cymbal, horribly tuned kits at an open mike or jam night to be a challenge and not a limiter. How can I get up there and just through touch and feel alone make this kit sound like a million dollars? And when the guys on stage turn around and grin, and I get handshakes and back slaps all around as I amble over to my table and a waiting drink... I know it worked.

I don't need extra, I don't want extra, and the worse-sounding, the better. I can hang!
^^ This. I've seen some great drummers sit down at a horrid kit and drive the band like a freight train, and often get sound out of them that nobody else could. It's easy to be comfortable, doing what you always do. Growth comes from stretching a bit. Even if I have to simplify what I'm doing, if I can groove and drive the band, then the musicians in the room will know. And any drummers who sit down on that kit will wonder how I did that. Until one of the really good cats comes in and plays the way they always do in spite of the kit. What I aspire to be.
 

Malti

Senior Member
All of these posts have prompted me to re-think my approach to Open Jams entirely. Now I'll just go in with the idea that my goal is to become more versatile, (instead of necessarily do justice to the song I'm playing), just expect a challenge, and more than anything, learn how to wing it. This is very difficult for me as a recovering perfectionist and self conscience player who has almost no experience playing with others to begin with. But the more I play out the greater my confidence level increases. Since I'm not in a band, I'm always playing with people I've never played with before at a Jam Session, and occasionally playing songs I don't know even though the guys are always gracious in letting me make recommendations. I don't know the lingo ("Twice around the block"? What's that?), I don't know the hand signals (The leader is waving his arms around and I'm thinking he's telling me the song's about the end but I really have no idea). And, Oh - now there's a random guitar solo - guess I'll just keep on grooving until it's over, whenever that is. Last jam I was at had no monitors and I couldn't hear a thing being played on the stage ahead of me so all I could do was watch everybody and try to figure out what was going on in our impromptu version of the song we were playing. I gotta admit, when the set was over, I was pretty proud of myself. It was an exhilarating experience to say the least. And you know what they say about experience: it's what you get when you don't get what you asked for!
 

T.Underhill

Pioneer Member
All of these posts have prompted me to re-think my approach to Open Jams entirely. Now I'll just go in with the idea that my goal is to become more versatile, (instead of necessarily do justice to the song I'm playing), just expect a challenge, and more than anything, learn how to wing it.
That's a good attitude. In regards to the gear I would have a tough time adjusting to a different set in my early days and want to bring a lot of gear. Now I don't even bring anything besides sticks most of the time because I hate carrying and keeping watch on my stuff.

Besides, if the kit sounds and operates like crap make sure you're the best guy there so it sounds the best. If that makes sense haha.
 

Magenta

Platinum Member
I take the kit I don't like and my crappiest cymbals to our jam night. Yesterday I had the pleasure of having an expert tell me the bass drum batter head could do with tightening and that the spurs were at the wrong angle, and he was kind enough to adjust the toms too. Luckily he had a tuning key attached to his car keyring.

Next week David Floegel and Liam will be there, so I think we'll get them up first (there are two kits, so they can do a thirty-minute drum-off), and then ask this chap to play :)
 

Malti

Senior Member
Magenta - I'm looking into portable e-kits to bring to jams and open mics where there isn't a kit available. The Roland TD-4KP is at the top of my list because of maximum portability and weight, but the Roland HD-1 looks good too. I should probably get some input on here by opening up a thread on the Drum Gear (?) section in case there are folks who have experience with either of these 2 kits and would be willing to give their input.
 

Magenta

Platinum Member
Magenta - I'm looking into portable e-kits to bring to jams and open mics where there isn't a kit available.
That's a jolly good idea. I don't think I'd mind if anybody adjusted my e-kit. I knew I shouldn't have sold mine, but if I hadn't I wouldn't have my favourite kit. Life, eh.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
All of these posts have prompted me to re-think my approach to Open Jams entirely. Now I'll just go in with the idea that my goal is to become more versatile, (instead of necessarily do justice to the song I'm playing), just expect a challenge, and more than anything, learn how to wing it. This is very difficult for me as a recovering perfectionist and self conscience player who has almost no experience playing with others to begin with. But the more I play out the greater my confidence level increases. Since I'm not in a band, I'm always playing with people I've never played with before at a Jam Session, and occasionally playing songs I don't know even though the guys are always gracious in letting me make recommendations. I don't know the lingo ("Twice around the block"? What's that?), I don't know the hand signals (The leader is waving his arms around and I'm thinking he's telling me the song's about the end but I really have no idea). And, Oh - now there's a random guitar solo - guess I'll just keep on grooving until it's over, whenever that is. Last jam I was at had no monitors and I couldn't hear a thing being played on the stage ahead of me so all I could do was watch everybody and try to figure out what was going on in our impromptu version of the song we were playing. I gotta admit, when the set was over, I was pretty proud of myself. It was an exhilarating experience to say the least. And you know what they say about experience: it's what you get when you don't get what you asked for!
Recovering perfectionist lol. Love it. Twice around the block....I'm pretty sure he means that the solo he's referring to will run through the chord progression 2 whole times.

Some tips I've gleaned from the 8 years I attended open mic jams, not directed at you Malti, just generally speaking...To be a preferred drummer at an open jam...don't try to impress everyone with fancy drumming. The drummers who are at the top of the list that the others want to play with....those drummers are all about supporting the soloist, supporting the singer, and are focused on the rest of the band as opposed to being focused only on the drum part, and how impressive it can be. It's backwards. If you try to impress, you fail. If you don't try and impress, you impress. Backwards. I've found that guitarists and others value a drummer who gives support, instead of the ones trying to impress everyone by playing lead drums, or otherwise try and be completely bitchin.

It's not about the drummer in open mics, it's about how well the drummer can make the "band" sound. That's what everyone wants from the drummer in blues jams.

When in doubt, keep good feeling time.
 

T.Underhill

Pioneer Member
It's not about the drummer in open mics, it's about how well the drummer can make the "band" sound. That's what everyone wants from the drummer in blues jams.
Blues jams are notoriously known for long-winded harp solos, Stratocaster mast****tion mastery, and solid drumming. We're there to keep the noise going in time.
 

STXBob

Gold Member
I host an open mic/jam session every Thursday at a local watering hole. (If you ever find yourselves on my island, stop by! :) )

I agree that bringing extra drums is Not Done. So is moving things all over the place. Though that line is not etched in stone. I don't care if you change the snare height, or if you screw with the rack tom (so long as you're careful not to mar the finish on the bass drum in the process). Bringing your own pedal(s) and cymbals is perfectly fine with me, though I've never experienced complaints about mine. Neither have I had complaints about tuning.

Which brings to mind the real basis for adding my tuppence. As musicians we have a responsibility to tune our instruments. We don't begrudge a guitarist tuning his axe, whether it's to retune an instrument that's gone out (which often happens at jams, if instruments are shared) or to tune a guitar to 'drop D' or an open tuning for slide playing. Why is it different for drums? Why, if the drums sound like ass, should I just grit my teeth and bear it? I'm not advocating stopping everything for ten minutes to tune everything properly, or anything approaching stopping the show for more than a few minutes. But if I was a regular participant in a jam where the backline kit sounded like plastic buckets, I'd take a moment to commune with the loaner kit's owner and "philosophize about tuning." If that conversation goes well, I'd offer to come early next week and tune the drums. :)
 
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