Fred Below: The Drum is a Beautiful Instrument if Played Correctly

Scott K Fish

Silver Member
Fred Below: The Drum is a Beautiful Instrument if Played Correctly

SKF NOTE: This is an excerpt from my interview with drummer Fred Below, arguably the father of Chicago electric blues drumming. Mr. Below recorded with Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, The Aces, Little Walter, Chuck Berry, and other pivotal blues musicians. The interview was published in Modern Drummer‘s September 9, 1983 issue as, Fred Below: Magic Maker.

Mr. Below is shown in this blog post behind Ludwig and Sonor drumsets. He was playing the Sonor kit when we had this interview. In fact, the Sonor photo here is one of several MD used for this interview.

Scott K Fish: Do you have a preference between matched grip and traditional grip?

Fred Below: I use traditional myself because it works good. But, I’ve seen guys use drumsticks like mallets. To me, that gives off a different sound and a different beat. It’s harder. It’s not soft enough.

I like my way best, the traditional, because of the technique and the pressure. You’re no so much slamming/bang, slamming/bang.

The drum is a beautiful instrument if you play it correctly. You can get beautiful sounds. And your drums should be tuned so that you can hear different tones coming out of all the different sizes.

You can be playing in a band, and all of a sudden you hear that their tones are going up. You can’t reach it up if your drums are flat. You just have a plop sound that don’t have no tone. But if you’ve got tone, if the band goes up, you can go right up with it.

SKF: Was there any one person that taught you how to tune drums?

Scott K Fish Blog: Life Beyond the Cymbals - Click Here for Full Fred Below Interview