Playing a four piece

Frank

Gold Member
I play a 3 piece in a cover band.

There are no right or wrong answers on this. It all depends on the music.

For me personally, I play in a dance-oriented cover band. The last thing the people want or need is to hear me wank across several toms. They want to hear my bass drum, they want to hear the thunk of my snare, and they want to hear a solid, in the pocket, non-interrupted groove. What works best is - my 3 piece. Much fun.
 

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
If I ever run out of sounds, textures, and possibilities with my 4 piece, maybe I'll consider another drum. 10 years so far, and I've still got a lot to learn before I worry about "monster" anything on my kit setup. I just don't find it very fun to setup, maintain, and especially to play a huge kit. I don't need all that stuff. I guess if I cared in the slightest about playing huge 64th note fills over 11 toms, or note-for-note covers of someone else's song I'd have to change it up, but again, I find it far, far more fun to use my head and come up with another pattern or combination to get a creative and interesting sound or fill.

When I was younger, I used to think that music centered around virtuosity was pretty cool. I'd listen to guys like weckl knock out huge fills over huge kits, or guys like satriani play solos for entire songs using every note on the fret board and think "now that's how you play an instrument!"...

As time goes on, I realize more and more that flashy showing off and virtuosity just for the sake of virtuosity got old pretty fast. Music goes deeper than just more more more, and for me, in almost every imaginable case, less is actually more. Hell, I have the most fun when I take a tom off my kit and find ways to play things with only one tom with lots of voices. I'm the same way with cymbals. A good pie has so many sounds it can make that all I feel the need for is a good ride, and a crash setup similar to my tom setup; one to handle the higher frequency stuff and one to handle the darker low pitch stuff. If I can't make the two meet in the middle and sound full for any song, I need to practice, not add more kit pieces.

But if anything, this thread shows that there's no right or wrong answer to the "how big should my kit be" question. It should be whatever inspires you to play your best, and more importantly play tastefully, and for the music.


Amen, brother!

There was a time a few years ago that I was thinking about buying the 8 or 9 piece double bass monster kit. Then on a lark, I put two of my kits together to make this 7 piece double bass kit to see for sure if I wanted one. I began to tinker around and after about 10 minutes said "forget it"!

I felt like a fish out of water. Nothing felt right!

Then I remembered I heard a guy at a jam brag a few years ago how he always plays a double bass monster kit and talking like he was hot stuff and actually talked trash about drummers who didn't play monster kits. The guy starts playing and I had to laugh my ass off. He could only do 16th note fills around the kit going from the highest to lowest tom and only a 4/4 basic rock beat: 8th notes on the hats, snare on 2 and 4 and the bass on 1 and 3. I nearly spilt my beer I laughed so hard. But man, the guy had a gorgeous looking wife.

But that brings me back. Most of the time I don't even like playing a 5 piece kit. I like the simplicity of the 4 piece kit. Hats, a ride, and two crashes. Sometimes a splash or a China thrown in.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I play a 5 piece, but could easily do without my middle tom. (12" rack) I'd have to fill the hole with my ride though. Which is a bit of a change from where I am comfortable playing it.

Here's the thing, you only have 2 hands so you really can only hit 2 toms at a time. Now when you use your bass drum as a low tom in a linear type fill, that little set sounds huge. Extra toms are just extra tones because it's not like you can hit more than 2 at a time...Are the extra tones worth all the lugging? Not for me, I already have an extra tom I don't have an arm for. You can still sound huge (if you need huge) on a 4 piece with linear fills. Now if you had an arm for every tom....(shudders)

I like the high medium and low approach. High, medium and low pitched toms, the same with my crashes. (w/ the addition of a splash). Anything else complicates it too much for me. Besides, that's plenty for me to hit. I lack for nothing.
 

Bertram

Silver Member
I like playing a 4pc alot! IF i'd ever go to a 5pc, i'd need two floor toms! I like having 1 rack tom, and filling the gap with the ride cymbal! it feels so natural for me. I also like the sound of a little bigger drums.
 
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sticks4drums

Guest
I play a 5 piece, but could easily do without my middle tom. (12" rack) I'd have to fill the hole with my ride though. Which is a bit of a change from where I am comfortable playing it.

Here's the thing, you only have 2 hands so you really can only hit 2 toms at a time. Now when you use your bass drum as a low tom in a linear type fill, that little set sounds huge. Extra toms are just extra tones because it's not like you can hit more than 2 at a time...Are the extra tones worth all the lugging? Not for me, I already have an extra tom I don't have an arm for. You can still sound huge (if you need huge) on a 4 piece with linear fills. Now if you had an arm for every tom....(shudders)

I like the high medium and low approach. High, medium and low pitched toms, the same with my crashes. (w/ the addition of a splash). Anything else complicates it too much for me. Besides, that's plenty for me to hit. I lack for nothing.
Guess a piano should only have 10 keys with that logic. :)
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Guess a piano should only have 10 keys with that logic. :)
I don't think so, you need all the notes in a piano and every other pitched instrument. To state the obvious, drums are rhythmic and don't rely on scales. There are plenty of possibilities with just four different tones. A small drumset has 7 to 8 tones.
 
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mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
I don't think so, you need all the notes in a piano and every other pitched instrument. To state the obvious, drums are rhythmic and don't rely on scales. There are plenty of possibilities with just four different tones. A small drumset has 7 to 8 tones.
Agreed. Melodic instruments are a completely different thing. Trying to play a guitar with a string missing (especially if it's one of the lower strings) is very difficult because you're needing to use that string all the time. With the Piano (and I can play a little and my brother can play a damn sight more than a little) you also need all the notes for various standard pieces. There's nothing in piano music that says that 'genre A uses eight notes' or 'genre B uses thirty notes', yet that does exist more with the drums. Also, because they're not necessarily pitched, you can get away with far fewer if you want to because you're actually playing rhythmic patterns within a general sense of pitch - rather than melodic patterns with a specific sense of pitch.
 

drummertyler

Junior Member
i actually play a five piece kit. But i've recently decided to switch to four, part of the reason being that it really helped me as far as coming up with new stuff.When you have less pieces it kinda forces you to think outside of the box and i love having the convenience of having a smaller kit, and it's easier access to my ride cymbal, or sometimes, my cowbell. Sometimes, if we cover a song that requires that second tom, then i'll put it back on, but usually that's not the case.I do plan on getting a second floor tom, but i'm perfectly happy with a four piece for now. And to anyone out there who says that playing a four piece kit limits your creativity, i strongly disagree. You can do just as much on a four piece kit as a five piece or a six piece. i'm not against big kits by any means, but i'm just saying that playing a four piece kit does not limit you. All the big kits are just extra tones. And there are a HUGE number of great drummers.......legendary drummers who use four piece kits.
 
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DSCRAPRE

Guest
For the project I'm about to start, I'm reducing my Bonham style 5 piece (1 up 2 down) into a 4 piece. I'm already used to 4 pc. configurations considering that I played one for years (my first kit) so this should be no big deal. The main reason I'm doing this is because I'm going to be transporting the kit some what frequently and that 18 inch tom just isn't worth the hassle. Besides, I'm going to have enough grief trying to fit a 24x18 kick into my 1994 Saturn compact sedan.

In terms of the whole debate, a good drummer can play well on any kit, just check out the video I posted earlier. It's all just preference.
 

baz

Silver Member
...my main reasons for playing a four piece are as follows.

I am lazy.

I am not very creative.

I am not very good.

As much as I love playing, I do have limitations. Knowing this helps me not only to work to overcome them, but also to not beat myself up because of them. At this stage in my life, I have bigger worries than wheather or not I can nail a triple diddle rata mata poly que. Two four works for 90% of what I play. I can get by on the other 10% by snapping my fingers and singing a few "ya ya yas".

I am a metronome with some cogs missing on a few of the gears. This doesn't seem to matter to the grey ponytails that I jam with. We are all pretty like minded in this. Playing music is a hobby that we plunged into later in our lives, For the most part, we are happy to get together, have a few beers, and for that all to brief moment, re live those memories of when our hair was brown and our teeth were white ( I stole that quote from Graham Edge of the Moody Blues). Playing for the sake of playing is it's own reward. My carreer takes care of my family, music helps take care of my sanity.

Big kit, little kit. Who cares. I agree with sticks when he says that being able to do more with less does not automatically imply that you could do more with more. Every now and again I add a tom or two, maybe a couple of extra cymbals, but I seldom feel that I can play up to them. Playing the four by four,(four piece, two crash, hats, ride) does not make me more creative, rather it reinforces my mediocrity, but hey, I'm cool with that.

Barry
 

Drumolator

Platinum Member
Baz, you crack me up big time! I really like the four by four setup too. This weekend I will play a five-piece set for the first time in several years, mostly because I bought a 12" tom to go with my 10" and 14". Most likely about halfway through, I will remove the 10" tom and go back to four piece. It is just what I am comfortable with. Peace and goodwill.
 

diegobxr

Silver Member
...my main reasons for playing a four piece are as follows.

I am lazy.

I am not very creative.

I am not very good.

As much as I love playing, I do have limitations. Knowing this helps me not only to work to overcome them, but also to not beat myself up because of them. At this stage in my life, I have bigger worries than wheather or not I can nail a triple diddle rata mata poly que. Two four works for 90% of what I play. I can get by on the other 10% by snapping my fingers and singing a few "ya ya yas".

I am a metronome with some cogs missing on a few of the gears. This doesn't seem to matter to the grey ponytails that I jam with. We are all pretty like minded in this. Playing music is a hobby that we plunged into later in our lives, For the most part, we are happy to get together, have a few beers, and for that all to brief moment, re live those memories of when our hair was brown and our teeth were white ( I stole that quote from Graham Edge of the Moody Blues). Playing for the sake of playing is it's own reward. My carreer takes care of my family, music helps take care of my sanity.

Big kit, little kit. Who cares. I agree with sticks when he says that being able to do more with less does not automatically imply that you could do more with more. Every now and again I add a tom or two, maybe a couple of extra cymbals, but I seldom feel that I can play up to them. Playing the four by four,(four piece, two crash, hats, ride) does not make me more creative, rather it reinforces my mediocrity, but hey, I'm cool with that.

Barry
Hahahahaha, what a funny post. So great and full of truth (other than you not being good, I've never seen your playing, but I'm sure it's not that bad). Haha. :)

Cheers!
 

Swiss Matthias

Platinum Member
People can add (what I think) is unnecessary gear like double pedals, then look down their noses at monster kit players and all their "unnecessary" gear.
What is necessary in music?

Anyway, some people talk like having a double pedal and 4 or 5 toms forces you to use
all of it all the time! Actually I think it takes at least an equal amount of creativity, maturity,
musicality and artistry to have 5 toms, 10 cymbals, 2 snares and a double pedal at your
disposal but use a small part of it for most times.

The whole discussion about too much stuff vs creativity in my opinion starts when some
drummers don't have much variation, dynamics, technique and ideas and therefore start
to "help" themselves by doing the same thing all over again but with different sound sources.
This results in leaving the listener cold, and the listener gets the impression that the
solution for that unpleasant experience would be decreasing the amounts of instruments
on the drumkit. Which isn't the real point though, of course...
 

ocdrums

Senior Member
I use a 2 pc (bass drum and snare drum) plus HH, 2 crash and a ride for some gigs. If I don't hear a spot for toms I don't bring them. I can add up to 4 toms if needed, I add a rack and a floor for most gigs.
 

zfzgg

Senior Member
I worry myself a little, in that I'm only 19 years old, and already I've reached the point of trying to take as few drums to a given gig as I can.

The absolute largest kit I play anywhere ever is a four piece with hats/crash/ride, but if you take away the two toms and the crash cymbal I generally won't even notice the difference. Certainly for me it seems like the amount of times I strike those instruments during a gig is not enough to justify bringing them in the first place.
 
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sticks4drums

Guest
I worry myself a little, in that I'm only 19 years old, and already I've reached the point of trying to take as few drums to a given gig as I can.

The absolute largest kit I play anywhere ever is a four piece with hats/crash/ride, but if you take away the two toms and the crash cymbal I generally won't even notice the difference. Certainly for me it seems like the amount of times I strike those instruments during a gig is not enough to justify bringing them in the first place.
What the heck are you playing that you don't use toms?
 

Mark_S

Silver Member
I've got no problem with 4 peice kits at all, but I don't understand when somebody says you can play the same groove/fill with a 4 peice as you can with say, a 6 peice. Clearly you can't because those sounds are missing from the kit. For instance, on Groove Essentials 2.0 the track used on the menu sequence (can't remember the groove number) has a fill right at the end that uses 4 toms - and I personally think it is a great fill. I can't imagine how that would sound right on just 2 toms. Yes you could change the fill, but then it isn't the same fill.

Then there's the iconic fill in "In the air tonight" - same thing, it's known for how it sounds descending down the toms. You could approximate these fills on a 4 peice, but it just wouldn't be the same, though I'd loved to be proven wrong.

The drums are rhythmic yes, but the toms can add a melodic element in some fills, and more toms give you more tones for more melodic fill ideas.

The question I guess is whether you want to play fills that use more than 2 tom tones and whether you think the music needs it (the ultimate decider really!). Fashion shouldn't come into it..

IMHO :)
 
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mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
What the heck are you playing that you don't use toms?
There's a lot of music that doesn't use toms. You don't have to use them. If that's no fun to you, fine - but some people enjoy it that way.

http://www.drummerworld.com/Videos/jojomayerdbgrooveandslow.html

I got to the point that I was in a metal band a few years back and didn't take my toms to rehearsal. I only used them regularly used them in one song towards the end of my tenure with that band. It was all about phrasing snare fills and timing it in. A more minimalistic approach perhaps, but it worked well for me for a very long time.
 

creepshow

Member
I've been playing a 4-piece for 20 years. Do I play to impress? Hell, no! Most drummers don't need more than a 4 or 5 piece kit, and most of the drummers I love play just that. I'm usually a fan of a drummer if I love the band they play in. There are tons of drummers out there with bigger kits that can (from a technical standpoint) outplay most of those drummers/bands that I love. So what? Most of the music they play (in my opinion and personal taste) is overplaying, wanky drivel. To me, it doesn't matter how well you can play if you don't have great songs to play. Most of the stuff I love is straight, non-fancy 4/4 time, and that's awesome because the drummer is playing a great song and that, to me, is way more important.

When it comes to drumming, to each their own, absolutely. But I would rather be an ok drummer in a great band than a great drummer in an ok band. :)
 
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