Is being over-educated about gear good, or bad?

davezedlee

Senior Member
it also depends on what you're trying to achieve

playing "Fool In The Rain" or "Billie Jean" or "Intruder" (Alex Van Halen) on some kits translate into the "vibe" of those songs, yet only sound like "patterns" on other kits

there HAS to be a reason why

think "Rock 'N Roll" works on a Breakbeat kit?
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
I think the knowledge is good in the pre-playing phase, when I'm buying. Having the knowledge gets me the heads and sticks I need to make my sound. I get the drums that I have researched and know that they will have a great sound and the hardware will hold them.

But them once I sit down and play, I shouldn't have to worry about the gear again until I get up. If I do find myself constantly fiddling with a piece of gear while playing, before very long it heads out the door to be sold or even trashed.

That happens very infrequently now that I have accumulated more knowledge, and have the internet at my fingertips.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
it also depends on what you're trying to achieve

playing "Fool In The Rain" or "Billie Jean" or "Intruder" (Alex Van Halen) on some kits translate into the "vibe" of those songs, yet only sound like "patterns" on other kits

there HAS to be a reason why

think "Rock 'N Roll" works on a Breakbeat kit?
I get where you are coming from, but that is just shell sizes. Bigger drums make a bigger noise. Not really the gear over education mentioned by the OP. Enough for me though.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
it also depends on what you're trying to achieve

playing "Fool In The Rain" or "Billie Jean" or "Intruder" (Alex Van Halen) on some kits translate into the "vibe" of those songs, yet only sound like "patterns" on other kits

there HAS to be a reason why

think "Rock 'N Roll" works on a Breakbeat kit?
I don't know, but I've convincingly played "Kashmir" on 13" hats and a 12" snare before. And just so we're clear, Jason Bonham tells the story of how his pop used to sit at his kid-sized kit and sound just like Bonzo.

Get informed and pick your gear carefully, but there's a whole world of feel, touch, and technique that has nothing to do with what it is you're playing. If the gear doesn't actively impede you from having that connection (because it's incapable of making the sound you want, or because it's falling apart), then that's when you can stop worrying about it and start playing.
 

mymarkers

Senior Member
When you shop for a car, there's no shortage of information about safety features such as anti-lock breaks, seatbelts, and airbags. Yet, the operator is the most important safety feature in the car. Drums are the same.

With drums, I don't count it as knowledge until I experience it. I can read all the descriptions about how dry, pingy, washy, dark, or bright a cymbal is, but until I've actually heard it, they don't mean much. And experience has taught me that the type of sticks used and how the cymbal is struck make a big difference. Rather than reading endless opinions about them, I bought some Evans J1's for my toms. They sound great, but I can't tell the difference from a coated G1. I think it's fun to try new stuff. I quickly discover which differences matter for my needs and which do not. It's far better than using Brand X Product Y forever because some stranger on the internet said so.

Knowledge of gear is definitely important. You can sound better and spend less money. But you have to take some time to think critically through the sea of marketing propaganda and speculation to figure out what is actually relevant to you.
 

groove1

Silver Member
When I began playing/performing again after several decades away from drums I was astonished at how hyped the details of everything were while in many cases the overall product was inferior to what I remembered using earlier on when the details weren't even mentioned. So, while I think being educated about gear is fine, too much of anything is too much as in "over-educated". Another 2 cents gone.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
I think the only downside to spending a lot of time becoming educated about gear is that you're probably sacrificing spending time on other important things related to being a drummer, like practicing. So, the knowledge in and of itself isn't bad, it's just that in a practical sense, it's what it's taking away from that can hurt you.
 

picodon

Silver Member
The problem with beginner drummers like myself being overexposed to information is that we have no clue what is essential, what is important, what is nice to have and what is irrelevant to what we want - we generally don't even know what we want. It's just that the information is out there and I agree, it must be some kind of fear of making a terrible mistake by not using that information.

I also think that technical details are only weakly correlated related to how satisfied a (beginner?) drummer is with his/her kit. A kit is great because it sounds great and looks great and can stand some abuse. I don't care about mine being birch per se. Most Ikea furniture in my place is birch and looking at it does not make me any happier than looking into my toms :) I could have bought poplar with better cymbals. I thought the wood was essential to the sound, EQ'ed and what all :) But I realise on beginner level birch is just nice to have.

I think, well I guess, what makes a drum kit great today is what used to make it great half a century ago. We can let go of all that information and be no less happier.
 
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mikel

Platinum Member
The problem with beginner drummers like myself being overexposed to information is that we have no clue what is essential, what is important, what is nice to have and what is irrelevant to what we want - we generally don't even know what we want. It's just that the information is out there and I agree, it must be some kind of fear of making a terrible mistake by not using that information.

I also think that technical details are only weakly correlated related to how satisfied a (beginner?) drummer is with his/her kit. A kit is great because it sounds great and looks great and can stand some abuse. I don't care about mine being birch per se. Most Ikea furniture in my place is birch and looking at it does not make me any happier than looking into my toms :) I could have bought poplar with better cymbals. I thought the wood was essential to the sound, EQ'ed and what all :)

I think, well I guess, what makes a drum kit great today is what used to make it great half a century ago. We can let go of all that information and be no less happier.
Spot on, too much information is just that. Too much.
 

Bobrush

Senior Member
I think the only downside to spending a lot of time becoming educated about gear is that you're probably sacrificing spending time on other important things related to being a drummer, like practicing. So, the knowledge in and of itself isn't bad, it's just that in a practical sense, it's what it's taking away from that can hurt you.
This is definitely my problem, in many areas of my life. My wife says I over-analyze everything. It's a personality trait, I HATE being wrong. On the flip side, I usually get the best deals, and all my close friends and family value my opinions.

I don't think there is any such thing as being "over-educated", (or too much knowledge). However, we definitely have a limited amount of time in this world, and how we choose to spend it (in this case, learning about drum manufacturing vs playing drums) is a big challenge. Additionally, with the advent of the internet, there is a phenomenally large amount of information available to us, that previously wasn't. So, the challenge is much greater today than it possibly could have been in the past.
 

whiteknightx

Silver Member
There is certainly an insane amount of information out there. The trick with internet opinions too, is that you have to read lots and lots of reviews to weed out the good advice from the terrible advice. Just look at double bass pedal opinions.

It can be very paralyzing when going shopping for new gear.

look at intermediate kits for instance. Someone wants to buy an intermediate kit. This gets asked on this forum daily. People will suggest all the usual suspects - Gretsch Catalinas, Yamaha Stage customs, Tama Silverstars, Ludwig Epics, Mapex Meridians, PDP's, Pearl Visions. So now you have to look at all the kits in depth. Prices are very similar to them all, so how do you choose the one kit that will be yours? You're going to have the kit for a long time. So now you have to start to learn about bearing edge angles, shell construction, hardware, etc, trying to see what's different between them.

I still couldn't tell you what real difference the 30 degree bearing edges make on my catalinas, but I always wanted a Gretsch set, so I'm happy now.

Reality is they are all effectively very similar kits, so pick just the one with the nicest colour, or manufacturer you like, or what your local store carries, and you'll be happy. but how much info do you have to sort through to get to that point?


Really there isn't many truly crappy products out there anymore, so just pick something you like, and you'll be fine.

Guitar players have it much worse!
 

larryz

Platinum Member
I think it's more about not getting ripped off by the seller. Knowledge is power with anything. Shopping for underwear at Target vs paying 3x as much at Macy's.

When it comes to vintage drums it's even more important. But fun. The history of drum making, all the old catalogs, etc. Learning about that makes the day go faster.

To know them is to love them.
 

motleyh

Senior Member
Fantastic thread. Thanks for raising the question, Berm.

I get a pretty steady stream of inquiries from people interested in having a drum made, and I value having discussion and planning together with my clients. A certain portion of these inquiries are from people who will send me a set of detailed specs and ask for feedback on their thinking, and when that happens my first response is usually to steer the dialogue back to what character they want the drum to have and how they're going to use it (music style, playing style, playing situations). It's great to be aware of the specs but, unless you understand them in a good deal of depth, that knowledge may not result in the sound and playability you're really after. For all the discussion I see in forums, videos, publications, etc., there's very little on some of the details that really make a difference. And there's just as little on how all these specs work or don't work in combination -- it's possible for one factor to cancel out the benefits of another. And, unfortunately, there are not always good guides to separating misleading, irrelevant, or even false information from the information that's valid. People like to say that what they personally have or use or know of is the best, be it cars or computers or drums, but it's not always the objective reality.

I would put drum buyers in three categories as regards informed shopping. First, there are the players who just want to see the end result and move on to musicianship and technique. They don't care about the specs other than out of curiosity; it's mostly about the sound and feel, and about usability (tuning, adjustments, etc.). Second, there are those who pursue quality, usually because it gives them confidence in their instrument and in their purchase decision. These folks tend to be brand-conscious, feature-conscious and materials-conscious; they want to know they're using good gear, whether or not they actually need to call on all of its capabilities. And third, there are the collectors, buyers who are focused on appearance, rarity, prestige, or the completeness of their collection.

I think all three groups are good buyers with valid interests, but for different reasons, and I like working with all three. But in the forums and elsewhere, the lines get crossed and sometimes a guy who normally takes an "I'll know it when I hear it" approach gets caught up in a "what kind of edges" discussion. I keep remembering watching a top-rank pro artist at a drum show trying out a stave drum -- the more the builder (not me) tried to explain stave construction to him, the more glazed-over his expression got. Yes, it can be too much information and it can become a turn-off. Yes, it's possible to lose sight of why we play drums if we're deluged by specifications and theories. Call it over-education if you want -- it's a forest-and-trees situation, a distraction to our focus, a redirection of our path.

But it really depends on the individual and what he or she enjoys about drums. Different strokes for different folks, as they say. I would suggest only two cautions: One, a little knowledge can be counterproductive. Unless you know and understand these details in depth they may not get what you really want out of the drum, so maybe that shouldn't be the only basis of your buying decisions. And two, don't lose sight of why you love drums; if it's for the joy of playing, make sure that's where your attention is focused. Stay on your path.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
There is certainly an insane amount of information out there. The trick with internet opinions too, is that you have to read lots and lots of reviews to weed out the good advice from the terrible advice. Just look at double bass pedal opinions.

It can be very paralyzing when going shopping for new gear.

look at intermediate kits for instance. Someone wants to buy an intermediate kit. This gets asked on this forum daily. People will suggest all the usual suspects - Gretsch Catalinas, Yamaha Stage customs, Tama Silverstars, Ludwig Epics, Mapex Meridians, PDP's, Pearl Visions. So now you have to look at all the kits in depth. Prices are very similar to them all, so how do you choose the one kit that will be yours? You're going to have the kit for a long time. So now you have to start to learn about bearing edge angles, shell construction, hardware, etc, trying to see what's different between them.

I still couldn't tell you what real difference the 30 degree bearing edges make on my catalinas, but I always wanted a Gretsch set, so I'm happy now.

Reality is they are all effectively very similar kits, so pick just the one with the nicest colour, or manufacturer you like, or what your local store carries, and you'll be happy. but how much info do you have to sort through to get to that point?


Really there isn't many truly crappy products out there anymore, so just pick something you like, and you'll be fine.

Guitar players have it much worse!
Hmmm.....I dont know White. Why not just play the mid range kits and chose the one you like the sound, first, and looks of, second. You really do not need to know what the bearing edge angles and shell construction are. Unless we are going to rule out a kit that we love the sound of because it is made from Birch instead of Maple, or has 30D bearing edges and we simply have to have 45D.

A good friend of mine has a vintage Gretsch, and it sounds fabulous. It has uneven bearing edges, out of round shells, out of round hoops that are far from flat, and.....It sounds fabulous.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Why not just play the mid range kits and chose the one you like the sound, first, and looks of, second. You really do not need to know what the bearing edge angles and shell construction are. Unless we are going to rule out a kit that we love the sound of because it is made from Birch instead of Maple, or has 30D bearing edges and we simply have to have 45D.
I agree 100%
(I would add, check out the hardware and see if you like how everything clamps together.)

.
 

adam!

Senior Member
Great thread, Bermuda. I find that there must be a balance between gear knowledge and gear usage. With the advent of the internet, the amount of information available to us is greater than ever before. This is a good thing. However, without priorities of what matters most in a product, it is easy to get caught up in the hype. It can be debilitating when it gets to the point of obsessing over requiring the finest details in an instrument. The gear is important, but where are our priorities?

I find that I need the gear to perform well first - that is, produces the sound I want, how it holds tuning, strong hardware, etc. - and have looks and some of the "scientifically-advanced" or "over-engineered" marketing ploys some companies use follow afterward. There was an epic thread here by a kid named "Joey" where he sought to find his perfect kit... and a 4" wide front hoop was a requirement. At some point, we have to recognize whether we are in the "players" realm of drumming or the "museum" admiring realm of drums.

I think what is lost sometimes in gear obsession is practice time! It is more the indian than the arrow...
 

Catharticus Rex

Junior Member
I think deciding between good or bad is a matter of application. If the information about an instrument is used as a substitute for the visceral and tactile response to it, then in my opinion, the drummer(s) in question are not making a musical decision, but rather an intellectual one. The value of an instrument lies in its ability to produce a desirable musical tone. Other attributes like versatility and construction quality matter too, especially if you're playing it a lot, but ultimately I think sound has to be priority one.
 
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