How hard do you have to play the hi hat to be heard?

cantstoplt021

Senior Member
I've heard on here that you don't need to play the hi hat that hard for it to cut through the mix. Apparently its in a frequency range nearly all by itself so it's heard easily. Is this true? Can you get away with not smashing the hell out of it in a band setting?
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
I think the hi hats cut through better than anything else. I use bright hats, Zildjian New Beats, Sabian XS-20 Rock & Sabian Pro.
 

Spaz

Senior Member
The hi-hats are notorious for slicing through the mix. I also tend to aim my snare drum mic semi under my hi-hat to help pick it up in the mix. But they cut pretty good.
 

Wave Deckel

Gold Member
Hihats should almost always be played a lot quieter than your snaredrum in order to get a good, well rounded drum-sound. Many people forget that and hit their hihats way too hard.

When I play my hihats (rather soflty) with jazzstick(!) in my rockband(!), nobody ever complained in the practice-room (where I play unmic'd) that it would be too quiet. They always cut through. And when playing live, sound engineers are always happy that I don't hit the sh*t out of my hihats.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
Hihats should almost always be played a lot quieter than your snaredrum in order to get a good, well rounded drum-sound. Many people forget that and hit their hihats way too hard.
100% agreed. It's the concept of acting as your own mixer via dynamic playing and not relying on the knob-twiddler to make your kit sound balanced. I like the hats to sit just underneath the snare volume-wise.

Play each kit element with the force and intensity appropriate to its place, but no more than that. Because the relationships are often moving targets, you have to have your ears on all the time. With most forms of rock drumming, hats don't function to define the beat the way snare drum backbeats do, so it ends up sounding like amateur-hour to have the snare getting buried by them. But it's what tends to happen when they're both hit with the same force.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
Can you get away with not smashing the hell out of it in a band setting?
If you're "smashing the hell" out of anything, then you aren't drumming.

If you aren't able to produce the volume that you want/need in your band setting then you need to modify your playing or your instrument, not start smashing things. Try using bigger/heavier sticks before you smash things!


As for your question, I do find that hitting the closed HH can cut through pretty much everything. I played in a cavernous museum the other day and the HH was echoing too much, but the rest of the set was fine. I also remember my teacher in school telling me that it was easier to control dynamics on the ride vs closed HH.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
I used to set my hats up high and play on the edge. At larger gigs the sound engineers would complain that the snare mic was always picking up too much hats.
Over time I changed. Now I set the hats much lower and play from above, 1-2 inches in from the edge. Shorter, softer sound. It balances well.

Rule of thumb: Rock music - snare and kick should be loudest.
Jazz - ride and hihat should be loudest.
 

cantstoplt021

Senior Member
I think I've been playing the hats too hard for awhile now. I guess I was always afraid of being too quiet, but I guess that's hard to do with the hats. I just tried playing with a much lighter touch and it was certainly easier to play. Felt more natural and relaxed. Every stroke shouldn't be coming up close to your face I'm guessing.
 

GeoB

Gold Member
Jordan and Carter Beauford use crashes for hi-hats.

I use New Beats 14" and in louder situations they are barely audible.
 
G

Ghostnote

Guest
I find the hats will cut more than you think they do. Sometimes I use two 17" or 18" thin crashes as hats, which is quite a low pitched and soft sound, and after watching clips of me playing with a band I realised that even those cut through just fine.
 

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
It's my own personal taste that the hi-hat doesn't need to be loud, sometimes I just tap it and let the kick and snare shine through.
 

Smoke

Silver Member
You can vary the volume/cut with the hat pedal. I'm sure you've noticed that hats clamped tight gives a different sound/volume than almost open.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
I remember the last audition I went to (which I nailed). I saw what looked like the leftovers from a saw mill next to the hi hat stand. I thought to myself, what are these drummers doing that I'm not doing?

The fact is, I don't play the hats very hard like a woodchopper. I like to finesse the hats throughout the songs. To me, the hi hats are an instrument all their own in a way. There so much variation, texture and emotion that can be conveyed through proper playing of the hi hats. They're not a one-trick pony where you just unwittingly flail away.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Hats cut easy.

The exception is really only a rolling lick or a bark.

Rolling is easier if you remember to really close it up tight.

Rockier stuff just easing the left foot. No extra hitting power necessary, really.
 

cantstoplt021

Senior Member
Question? Should the hi hats be low enough to comfortably play them with the tip of the stick? I think I've had my hi hats too high for a little bit. I can only really hit the side of the hi hat with the side of the stick.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
Question? Should the hi hats be low enough to comfortably play them with the tip of the stick? I think I've had my hi hats too high for a little bit. I can only really hit the side of the hi hat with the side of the stick.
Thus the sawdust on the floor. Yes, you need to have them low enough to play with the tip and even the shank of the stick flat against the cymbal. Playing them should feel comfortable and relaxed.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Question? Should the hi hats be low enough to comfortably play them with the tip of the stick? I think I've had my hi hats too high for a little bit. I can only really hit the side of the hi hat with the side of the stick.
It's a common misconception that the normal hi-hat sound is achieved by hitting the edge of the hats.

Playing with the tip of the stick is common in many situations.

To accent, bark or just getting that rockier or whatever sound, all you have to do is get flat with the curve of the edge. Tilting more does nothing for you except chewing up your stick faster.


Hat height depends on a lot of things.

You need to be comfortable.

If you cross, like most of us do, there needs to be enough distance from the snare which can be partly cured by opening up or lifting it along with the "snare hand" when going for the back beat.
 
Top