quality of drum sounds to the rest of the band is not important

evolving_machine

Silver Member
I am in a band and we practice at a volume that is just a little louder than speaking volume. As a matter of fact (side note), I had the PA controls near me, and the guitar player asked me to lower the volume on my mic. I lowered it gradually, until it was off. He then said it was a perfect volume, I then took off the headset. He just looked at me, lol. But the bass player caught on, and asked me to give it a little volume. I know this could be a remark about my singing, lol. But, that side note was just to show what volume we are playing at. On a few tunes, I use a conga to the left of my hi-hat, and I play the conga, the bass drum, and hi-hat, and I hit the cymbals with my hand, and no mic on the conga.

In order for me to play at that volume with sticks, I taped the drums and cymbals up a lot. By doing all this taping, the drums sound horrible. Yet, I feel I have no choice but to play as lightly as I can and reduce the sound of the drums.

The guitar player, adjusts his sound in a combination of volume and gain, and pedals, and tries to get the right sound out of his rig and he gets very serious trying to get "the right sound."

The bass player has a pedal board so he can dial in his sound. The singer wants a volume so she does not have any distortion, but does not want to push her voice too much during each rehearsal.

I don't think too many other musicians care about the overall sound of our drums as long as we are plying them correctly. It really drives me nuts that when I hit the ride cymbal, the cymbal itself sounds so bad. I also feel that as a drummer we have to make more sacrifices then other members of the band. Am I wrong in this observation?
 

makinao

Silver Member
It sounds like a challenge, but can also be an opportunity. So I think this is one of those cases in which you have to, pardon the expression, think differently.

Playing quietly does not necessarily mean deadening the sounds of your kit. You'd be surprised how many wonderful complex sounds can surface when everyone is playing quietly. For example, right now I'm recording a project in which I started using only soft beaters (mallets, brushes, rods, fingers) and playing very softly. I'm enjoying myself because I'm hearing all the subtle harmonics and overtones that would have become lost in the scuffle of loud playing. I haven't pickup up a stick yet, and I don't think I will for the rest of this project.

With the guitarist and bassist chasing "the right sound", why don't you pursue something similar that will complement them?
 
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evolving_machine

Silver Member
It would be easier if I can play with wire brushes, or nylon brushes, but they are requesting that I use sticks. At this volume, I have to choke the stick and not let it bounce. I am playing the snare near the rim. The hats have be played on the bow with bead of the stick.
 

evolving_machine

Silver Member
Are you playing a lot of library gigs?
Man, it feels like it. LOL

I was playing in a Jazz workshop, grand piano, and bass. I was able to play with sticks and brushes, and no tape on cymbals and drums. All I did though was use a towel on the bass drum, it had no felt or muffler. I had no problem keeping it low volume there. this however is a new ball game.
 

BertTheDrummer

Gold Member
I don't think too many other musicians care about the overall sound of our drums as long as we are plying them correctly. It really drives me nuts that when I hit the ride cymbal, the cymbal itself sounds so bad. I also feel that as a drummer we have to make more sacrifices then other members of the band. Am I wrong in this observation?
I don't know if that is necessarily the case. Unfortunately guitarists and bassists have volume knobs, and unless you are playing an electro kit we don't. I don't think it is caring or not about the sound of drums, but it is people concerning themselves more about volume level than anything else. It is getting to the point where it is just ridiculous.

I find it funny that 10 years ago, a drummer with only an electro kit would have a difficult time finding a gig. Now like at last half of the drummer wanted ads I seem to see want drummers with electro kits.

Edit: I have to say that the volume thing is not just limited to drummers. I also play bass and have run in to that so much that I had to go and change up my entire setup because I couldn't go in to a lot of rehearsals and gigs without getting complaints and I was only on like 1-2 on my volume. Gone are the days when guitarists ran half stacks or at the very least a 2x12 combo. Now they are all running small amps, and a lot of those not even turned up that much, or some are just going straight direct.
 
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makinao

Silver Member
It would be easier if I can play with wire brushes, or nylon brushes, but they are requesting that I use sticks. At this volume, I have to choke the stick and not let it bounce. I am playing the snare near the rim. The hats have be played on the bow with bead of the stick.
Because they made that specific request, I think they are looking for a particular sound, and therefore consider your sound as important as theirs.
 

evolving_machine

Silver Member
This sounds like a good situation for playing with e-drums through a headphone monitor mix.
I was thinking about an e-drum solution to this. I just hope that the volume of sticks hitting the e-drum pads would not be too loud. Also, I am very ignorant about how to choose a decent e-drum kit.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
I also feel that as a drummer we have to make more sacrifices then other members of the band. Am I wrong in this observation?
Its true somewhat, but not unfair. Others can dial a volume, and our dial is our hands. One can simply inform a band they cannot expect as much at such low volume.
Its actually quite a cool challenge to play quiet. Snare, kick, hats and ride can all be played quietly but never with the fury some kinds of music call for. I played with a band once that practiced in a 10 x 12 room, 4 or 5 people. Light sticks, tape on a dark ride, pack in a bass drum, towel on snare, no crash cymbals.

Any band that wants crash cymbals at a low volume is unreasonable. They have to get with the idea that you cannot play wide open a this level, more at cafe' volume. That works with some music but you're not going to be doing Deep Purple or Metallica covers quietly.
 

Anduin

Pioneer Member
Sounds frustrating.

I’d much rather go with some blasticks-type thing than all that tape. Or 7A rather than a heavy stick. Or quiet drums like an old kit I’ve got made of cheap wood with rounded bearing edges.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Here is my opinion on the matter.

Yes, when it comes to volume, as a drummer we have to make more sacrifices then other members of the band. It sucks. Usually we have to find ways to make the drums louder without physical harm to the drums and to our bodies. Sometimes we have to dampen our drums to the point that they no longer sound like drums. But there are limits that I won’t go beyond.

Here is what I would do: For quieter applications I would use a smaller drum set, 18 inch bass drum, 12 inch tom and 12 or 13 inch snare drum. Also use smaller cymbals. Dampen the drums using dampening rings. Do not dampen the cymbals! Dampening cymbals is just crazy. Play these drums as quietly as possible without sacrificing your technique. Use smaller sticks or rods.

Inform the other musicians that this is as quiet as the drums will be. Period! And that they will have to raise their volume to match the drums. Drums are loud musical instruments. If you don’t hit a drum with enough force it will not sound like a drum. Same with cymbals.

The next step down from this is to use a Cajon with a foot pedal, a small hi hat and a small cymbal. It won’t sound like a drum set but it works great for certain kinds of music.

PS. I currently practice with a band that has to keep the volume way down because of the neighbors. I use an e-drum set for this practice. The sound of the stick hitting the rubber pad is as loud as the drum sound from the e-drum. It’s crazy but it’s OK for practice. A more expensive e-drum with mesh heads would solve this issue.


.
 

cutaway79

Silver Member
So, they are all dialing in their "perfect sounds", while telling you that you can't use brushes to achieve YOUR "perfect sound"? Screw them. You don't tell them how to use their instruments. Why do you let them dictate what you do with yours? Just do whatever works for you, so long as it fits the volume requirements, and it compliments the music well.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I'm somewhat wondering about the headspace a venue is in to hire a band and then to tell them they must play really soft. Do they pay well? I suppose the fact that they're hiring musicians is good, but if you can't really hear them, what are they paying for? Interesting.

I suppose it can be looked upon as a challenge, or a frustration, but that's up to you. I guess you should be lucky you're there. When I've seen complaints about a jazz trio (piano/bass/drums), they'd just cut the drummer and become a duet.

Even in this situation, I'd still opt for an acoustic kit and stick to it. Seeing an eKit seems like a cop out.
 

drumbler

Member
Just started up with an acoustic singer songwriter. Using a suitcase kick drum, snare, hi hats, and small crash-ride w/moon gels. Shakers, tambourine, use mostly wooden rods, reinforced with glue, plus brushes. I wish there was an intermediate between stick and rod.
 

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DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Outside of the volume issue, you are quite right.

I've seen countless bands where the drummer was playing drums with dead heads, untuned drums, lousy cymbals, etc, and the band, for the most part, has no idea.

I've also played many house kits that had all the same issues, and my band didn't seem to notice the difference.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
For one, I applaud you Mr. evolving_machine for playing in a way that you are considerate to the other musicians, especially at rehearsal, and taming your lion of an instrument for the greater good, the drums. That is not something that should go unrecognized. it is definitely one of the more advanced skills IMO. So way to go. Any gorilla can pound drums into submission. It takes a real musician to accurately assess...and be able to deliver...what volume is needed for a given situation, high or low. Control is sexy.

As the drummer's volume goes, so goes the rest of the band. I always notice that if the drummer relaxes and doesn't try to impress or whatever, the rest of the band relaxes right along with them. Which is what I for one wants to happen. It's infectious or contagious. One of them. It's pretty cool the power we wield. Hold back and listen to the others get inspired.

In sticking with the thread topic, i just came back from rehearsal. I drive a full hour to rehearsal, so I use the drums there. He's got a 1968 vintage Sonor in that swirly wrap that you can make a scratch in with your fingernail. It sounds really bad, like a 1 out of 10. I put the floor tom legs inside my sneakers to bring out some resonance. Three legs, 2 sneakers lol.

My point is that is doesn't matter. Once the rest of the guys are in, the crap tones just melt into the net sound. What does matter is the manner in which I hit the drums. Sound almost doesn't matter. Timing matters. And dynamics. And a hundred other things. Sound is way down on the list. Now when everything is firing on all 8, plus you have good sound, yea, cream your jeans time, for drummers. For everyone else, it's the way the drums are hit, it's the timing way more than the sound. IMO. I feel it's our responsibility to create the best sound possible, but in reality it's far down the list of the things that actually matter.

It's not what you play, or the sound of the drums, as much as how you touch them in relation to everything else...and the sense of time...that really counts.
 
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