Guitar Center Drum Competition

So I was in guitar center the other day and I signed up for the drum competition. when I looked at the other people on the list, I was the oldest person who signed up. Everyone else was 16-20. Now I'm 25, studied music in college and am a Band Director in Texas now. I'm wondering if maybe I shouldn't do the competition. I'm not trying to go out and prove anything.
 

Coldhardsteel

Gold Member
Nah, man. Do what you wanna do! You wanted to play drums in that competition, and the age of other people shouldn't have anything to do with whether you change your mind or not.

What would be the reasoning behind that anyway?
 

zakhopper316

Silver Member
Have you watched videos of previous winners? In my opinion they aren't all that great to win a national drum off, I mean I don't wanna hate on them I was just surprised ya know! I was expecting to see the best of the best since guitar center is a large national retailer..
 
Honestly watching the previous winners is what made me think about dropping out. They weren't that great. Not much groove, soul or even technique to speak of. More flashy than anything and that really isn't my style. I might go in there and play an Elvin Jones solo, or maybe something similar.
 
I guess the point that I was trying to make was that aren't the point of competitions to see how you stack up against everyone else. If I already know where I'm at in the musical world, whats the point?
 

Thaard

Platinum Member
If you're a band-director and making a living out of drumming and music, you have already won(more or less). Just try to be creative, think different, have fun and groove. It will be the exact opposite of the drummers that are there.

I'm opposed to these contests, because they bring competition/competitiveness into music, where no competition should be. You see all the time that people judge musicians over their skills and chops, which in my opinion is not good. It's good to have fun, but these competitions probably brings out many nasty competitive people that fling crap at each other and what not.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Honestly watching the previous winners is what made me think about dropping out. They weren't that great. Not much groove, soul or even technique to speak of. More flashy than anything and that really isn't my style. I might go in there and play an Elvin Jones solo, or maybe something similar.
Remember, the drum-off is a competition, not an audition. It's about chops & flash, not (necessarily) groove. It's a drum solo and therefore, the more extreme, the better for the contestant. Over the last 22+ years of the competition, a few of the national winners have been noticed by the music community, so entering/winning should not be considered a guarantee of anything. It's fun, and there are prizes at a certain level, and that's all a contestant should expect.

I've been judging the drum-offs regularly since about 1989, and I think the only age restriction is at the lower end. At 25 you're hardly too old for it. I don't recall any 60-year-olds up there, but age, gender or ethicity aren't factors in the judging. Each person is scored based on how well they do what they do. But because this is a more extreme event than the real world of playing drums, someone playing a perfect groove for 5 minutes wouldn't impress the judges, and would lose points for creativity.

Yeah, re-reading my words... it's an extreme event. It's a contest. It's not drumming that would ever be done in real life by 99.999% of working drummers out there. A lot of the contestants briefly show that they can play time and groove, but that's not what the competition is about. It's good to know that they know the difference.

But anyone coming into this thinking that there's a gig waiting if they win, is in for a disappointment. The winner is also in for a big surprise: paying taxes on $25,000 worth of prizes!

Anyway, if your chops are up to task and you can play an interesting solo and have at least decent showmanship - that is, don't look bored up there - you'll have some fun and perhaps win your local store and have a shot at a district win, or more!

Bermuda
 
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bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I'm opposed to these contests, because they bring competition/competitiveness into music, where no competition should be. You see all the time that people judge musicians over their skills and chops, which in my opinion is not good.
But the actual competitiveness ends with the drum-off, and is a very real problem for those who don't know the difference between chops and groove, or a contest and an audition. In the real world, artists and bands always seem to make the right choices when choosing a drummer, and it's always about groove, not solos. Competitions like the drum-off, WFD etc. didn't create those drummers who have a skewed idea of what to play around other musicians, they've always been around and their lack of concept of the right parts is a much discussed issue.

Of course, the competitions do tend to draw in the drummers who think that blazing chops are the path to a career in music, and they will either forever wonder why they can't get a gig, or change their drumming ways to styles and parts that pay. But those who are more experienced - and this is where being a little older helps - understand that the competition is just for fun, and then they return to their normal gigging schedule.

The contests aren't the problem, it's the drummers who just don't know. And that reaches a lot further into the music community than the occasional competition intended to promote a store and its suppliers.

Bermuda
 

Thaard

Platinum Member
But the actual competitiveness ends with the drum-off, and is a very real problem for those who don't know the difference between chops and groove, or a contest and an audition. In the real world, artists and bands always seem to make the right choices when choosing a drummer, and it's always about groove, not solos. Competitions like the drum-off, WFD etc. didn't create those drummers who have a skewed idea of what to play around other musicians, they've always been around and their lack of concept of the right parts is a much discussed issue.

Of course, the competitions do tend to draw in the drummers who think that blazing chops are the path to a career in music, and they will either forever wonder why they can't get a gig, or change their drumming ways to styles and parts that pay. But those who are more experienced - and this is where being a little older helps - understand that the competition is just for fun, and then they return to their normal gigging schedule.

The contests aren't the problem, it's the drummers who just don't know. And that reaches a lot further into the music community than the occasional competition intended to promote a store and its suppliers.

Bermuda
True that. I'm actually a guy who likes chops, but on a musical level.

It's true that these "omg u must play 1000 bpm"-type of drummers have always been there, but since the invention of the internet, they've become a lot more prominent.
With the invention of so called drum-offs, you will have them come up and get confirmation that "chops gives you money and power to win competitions". This again can spawn whole communities that devote themselves to chops and speed. Just look at sickdrummer.com and gospel-chops. They are technically very good, but most of them are just blazing without a lot of musical context(even the extreme metal genres). I can't remember seeing much of this before these past few years.

Another problem would be someone with great groove and understanding of music, giving up, because he got bad scores on the drum-off(not everyone can differentiate from audition and competition). Maybe someone who's never been on a drum-off or audition, has bad self-esteem etc.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
With the invention of so called drum-offs, you will have them come up and get confirmation that "chops gives you money and power to win competitions". This again can spawn whole communities that devote themselves to chops and speed. Just look at sickdrummer.com and gospel-chops. They are technically very good, but most of them are just blazing without a lot of musical context(even the extreme metal genres).
Some drummers get that idea from the contests, but so many already think that way to begin with. The good news is, what a band or artist wants in a drummer will be their decision, not the prospective drummer's. At some point, it has to occur to those drummers why they're not passing auditions or getting called for paying gigs.

I don't begrudge drummers who love playing more technical and expressive stuff. I wish them luck. It's hard to get ahead and make money doing certain styles. But those drummers need to be realistic in terms of where they can go with their drumming, assuming they even want to. Some guys play strictly for fun, and on their own terms. I suppose there's a certain freedom in that, as long as they accept that it doesn't lead anywhere.

Bermuda
 

zakhopper316

Silver Member
But the actual competitiveness ends with the drum-off, and is a very real problem for those who don't know the difference between chops and groove, or a contest and an audition. In the real world, artists and bands always seem to make the right choices when choosing a drummer, and it's always about groove, not solos. Competitions like the drum-off, WFD etc. didn't create those drummers who have a skewed idea of what to play around other musicians, they've always been around and their lack of concept of the right parts is a much discussed issue.

Of course, the competitions do tend to draw in the drummers who think that blazing chops are the path to a career in music, and they will either forever wonder why they can't get a gig, or change their drumming ways to styles and parts that pay. But those who are more experienced - and this is where being a little older helps - understand that the competition is just for fun, and then they return to their normal gigging schedule.

The contests aren't the problem, it's the drummers who just don't know. And that reaches a lot further into the music community than the occasional competition intended to promote a store and its suppliers.

Bermuda
It should still be musical tho in my opinion. Have you ever seen a David king drum solo or even his comping behind the bad plus? It's really not anything that would be gig winning for 99.99% of jobs but it would fit all the requirements for this type of thing and it is also very musical and Mind blowing. Basically all I mean is I would expect to have my mind blown at a national drum off and my mind was not blown when I watched the YouTube videos of past GC drum offs.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
It should still be musical tho in my opinion.
That's a plus, maybe even refreshing for the judges to hear, but the drum-off is a chops contest, period. It's a solo, and typically more extreme than you'd hear in real life. I don't know if that's what GC envisioned way back when they started this, but that's what it's been for some time. It's not about musicality, it's primarily a display of chops (showmanship also counts.)

It's like WFD - strictly a display of technical skill/finesse, and virtually nothing to do with making music.

You have to put the concept of a competition in perspective; asking it to be like real-life is asking too much. It's not an audition, it's about who can out-do the next guy in terms of chops.

Bermuda
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Basically all I mean is I would expect to have my mind blown at a national drum off and my mind was not blown when I watched the YouTube videos of past GC drum offs.
In contests of this type, the entrants are judged against each other. It's a question of the best of the bunch. If the finalists are all absoluetly incredible, they can't all win, just as if the finalists are average, they can't all lose. In the end, one person gets picked, and he/she is the winner.

I haven't looked on YouTube, but how many years back do the winner videos go? Maybe the recent-ish videos are of the less stellar winners from the fairly rich history of the drum-off. I guarantee you there are some contestants/winners who are in the Bozzio/Vinnie league. The reason we don't hear from them is that the music world has a handful of such drummers, and doesn't need any more. In 15-20 years when the new crop of drumming heroes emerges, perhaps some of them will be former drum-off entrants.

Bermuda
 

zakhopper316

Silver Member
In contests of this type, the entrants are judged against each other. It's a question of the best of the bunch. If the finalists are all absoluetly incredible, they can't all win, just as if the finalists are average, they can't all lose. In the end, one person gets picked, and he/she is the winner.

I haven't looked on YouTube, but how many years back do the winner videos go? Maybe the recent-ish videos are of the less stellar winners from the fairly rich history of the drum-off. I guarantee you there are some contestants/winners who are in the Bozzio/Vinnie league. The reason we don't hear from them is that the music world has a handful of such drummers, and doesn't need any more. In 15-20 years when the new crop of drumming heroes emerges, perhaps some of them will be former drum-off entrants.

Bermuda
In all fairness I've only seen the last 2 years finalists and my local NYC drum comp. It's nice to have the POV of someone who has actually judged these comps! I get what ya mean man, it's just not for me, I'd be more interested in a comp that's more like American idol or similar where it's not just technique but based more on being musical and artistic.
 

uhuruskins

Junior Member
You're never too old to play music , anywhere or anytime.

I've read a lot of peoples posts in regards to the Guitar Center Drum-off here on this forum. So here's my 2 cents:

Most judges at the Guitar Center Drum-off want to see groove, pocket, chops and technique / originality. There is a judging criteria though and even if you have the best groove and chops by far, if you score little on let's say audience reaction or showmanship it could mean the difference between you winning or loosing. Sometimes it just depends on who's judging you that night.

Most judges who are drummers or professionals in the music industry will judge everything based on your ability to keep a disciplined pocket underneath and around everything else you play. This is what will get you hired and paid in the music industry. There's no point in a drummer being able to play a blazing speeds and amazing chops if they cannot apply it in a groove form and keep the pocket. But then again there is a SET judging criteria and they still have to rate you on things like showmanship, originality, etc.

There are also judges unfortunately that judge based on who they want to see win verses who really should have won. I've seen other posts on this forum similar to this subject. It doesn't happen at every guitar center but it's common when you're competing at the preliminaries local level. We all know that in the music industry it's not what you do but who you know and unfortunately that same concept lurks it's way into the GC Drum-off. Not always but a fair share of the time.

One year I competed at the store preliminaries (first round). The previous two years I went to the district finals. This year however after everybody played they said there was a tie between me and another drummer. So we had to play 2 minutes each to see who would break the tie. The other drummer ended up winning. Everybody was confused and said I should have won. I didn't complain with any rebuttal I just accepted it and congratulated the other drummer. The next morning I received a call from the department manager at guitar center who tallied up the scores and he said it wasn't even a tie and that I had won by a clear 20 points. He apologized and said he didn't realize how that happened. I realized that after everybody played that night the guy's bandmates came in and took over the judging when the other judges had to leave after tallying up the scores. Apparently they must have changed something with the scores and rigged a tie then rigged a "tie-breaker score" to make their friend win because I know the other judges wouldn't have done that as they are very legit honest music professionals. Nonetheless I felt really bad for the guy who thought he had won because he walked out so happy , amazed and completely soaked it all up. I couldn't imagine how he felt when he received the call from guitar center saying "Uh , sorry dude but .. you actually didn't win. See what happened was...".

I used to read about similar incidents happening with other competitors at the drum-off but didn't know whether or not to believe it until I saw this incident take place, and then similar ones down the line.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't compete , you meet a lot of cool people and it's an excellent way to network with other drummers. I've met some really cool drummers that I still run into this day and i've networked , shared tips with and learned from other drummers who go to the nationals.

Honestly the best thing you can get at the GC drum off is critique from the judges regardless how good you've played. Unfortunately there will be those times when some judges will do favoritism points to see certain people win that they know personally, etc.. That's just how the music industry works on a larger picture so don't be shocked if that happens at a drum-off competition. And sometimes the drummer who was obviously amazing and by far the best will loose because he scored lower on something a little less relevant such as flashyflash crowed wow's that the other drummer did. If thats the judging criteria then the judge may be strict on that criteria when he/she know's that the other drummer should have won. But in the end, regardless, I just say congratulate the winner , keep playing , if you're jaded just choose a different store next year.
Good drummers are hard to find and every band needs a drummer. The drummer is the most important piece of the unit holding everything together. The show can go on without one of the guitarists, horn player, etc. but never without the drummer. So it's always good to put yourself out there as a drummer because you'll never know who is looking to hire somebody for a gig that might be a path in the right direction of exposure.

You're never too old or too good to stop playing learning and growing as a drummer and musician.
 

mattsmith

Platinum Member
It's like WFD - strictly a display of technical skill/finesse, and virtually nothing to do with making music.

You have to put the concept of a competition in perspective; asking it to be like real-life is asking too much. It's not an audition, it's about who can out-do the next guy in terms of chops.

Bermuda
Absolutely true. I've always scratched my head at those who claim the GC Drumoff is some kind of artistic event. It's really an award for mastery of your practice exercises. Of course there's nothing wrong with that because its beneficial any time you put yourself up for a challenge. But finished product music it aint...and I'm sure most of the grand champions would say the same thing.
 
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