Recording Customs Revisited

RobertM

Platinum Member
I believe I may have raised this question for general discussion before, but I'd like to address it again: Why do people think Yamaha RCs are not "jazz drums"? Yes, they have the obvious reputation for being studio drums and quite suitable for rock, funk, R&B, etc., but several players have used them over the years for bebop gigs. Of course, Dave Weckl and others popularized them in the fusion setting, but there is plenty of footage of players like Terri Lyne Carrington, Jeff Ballard, Ignacio Berroa--to name a few--jamming out hard bop style tunes on an RC setup of 14x18, 14x14, and 8x12 (or with additional 10 tom).

Bernhard even has good footage on this site showing the diversity of how the RCs sound with single ply coated heads. The Manu Katche performance with Jan Garbarek

http://www.drummerworld.com/Videos/manukatche1.html

shows Manu playing RCs with a 22 or 20 bass and coated heads. Here, the toms sound punchy and deep/dark--a typical RC sound. However, Ignacio Berroa's performance here:

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

shows just how "boppy" and open the RC toms can sound with the same heads.

So why do retailers and some players say that RCs are "just not jazz drums"? They seem to be a diverse enough kit to deliver an authentic-sounding bebop tone, no?

Perhaps a pointless discussion, but just thought I'd revisit it--reveals my continued interest in these drums! (Plus, if RCs are more affordable than Absolute Maples, for example, then why bother paying the extra money for a maple kit--or buy into the stereotype (if I can use that word) that bebop drums should be primarily maple--if the RCs are indeed a more diverse kit than the maples? People seem to pigeon hole the RCs as a one-trick poney: studio and rock. But perhaps the RCs are one of the most diverse kits on the market,...ever?
 

drumhammerer

Silver Member
it really probably is just a stereotype. Everyone will probably always associate the Recording Customs with controlled studio sounds and lower tuning- the opposite of jazz. Because the series has "recording" in it's name, this reputation will probably never change. Some people are always gonna believe you've got to have specifc drums/brands for specific genres, too. I don't see any reason though, why you couldn't get a good jazzy sound out of them. Will they excel at jazz tunings? Maybe not, but I would imagine you could still get a good jazzy sound to them with higher tunings and some single ply coated heads. Hell, I've heard cheap kits cranked up that had a pretty good jazz sound.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
I've never bought into that "one trick pony stuff". No drum kit I've ever seen/heard is so high strung and thoroughbred that it can only cover one genre of music. You wanna play death metal with double 18" kicks, go for it. You wanna play jazz with a 26" kick, why not. So many people believe "only what the manufactures spoon feed them". Having owned a Yamaha R.C. kit, they're wonderful drums. They'll sound good with almost any head combo. And they'll sound good for just about any type of music. And as far as the maple/birch thang goes, 99.9% of your audience won't be able to tell WHAT wood type you're playing and/or if even all of the drums in the kit ARE the same type of wood.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I've never bought into that "one trick pony stuff". No drum kit I've ever seen/heard is so high strung and thoroughbred that it can only cover one genre of music. You wanna play death metal with double 18" kicks, go for it. You wanna play jazz with a 26" kick, why not. So many people believe "only what the manufactures spoon feed them". Having owned a Yamaha R.C. kit, they're wonderful drums. They'll sound good with almost any head combo. And they'll sound good for just about any type of music. And as far as the maple/birch thang goes, 99.9% of your audience won't be able to tell WHAT wood type you're playing and/or if even all of the drums in the kit ARE the same type of wood.
Well said.

I've met many "jazz" drummers who use Yamaha RCs.

Besides, the early jazz drummers used marching bass drums & Chinese made toms that had tacked on heads;
 

RobertM

Platinum Member
Thanks, guys, for the feedback. I agree with the "one trick poney" rule, but it always helps to hear others back it up since there is so much inflated marketing drawn out of drum making facts and differences.

I recently had one jazz veteran tell me that most drums today won't even touch a true jazz sound because no one really cuts fully rounded-over edges anymore. I think you can still ask Gretsch to do this--to go back to the bearing edges from the '50s--but most kits are either 30 degrees or some variety within the ever popular 45.

I was also told by this veteran that a good, round shell and good heads and good tuning are more important. He said to take a Remo Coated Ambassador, tune the top head a bit tighter than the resonant head (top head controls pitch, bottom head controls resonance), and the bop sound will project outwards. He said most drums are (a) poorly turned and/or (b) tuned with the bottom head tighter than the top or same as the top, which chokes the drum a bit. He said if you do the latter, the tom will sound fine if it is mic'ed up, but that's rarely the case in jazz acoustic settings.

I guess if this is the case, the RCs would be the way to go. Absolutely no quality problems when it comes to that kit (that I've heard of). I think the RCs would beat out a Tama SC Maple or Pearl MMP (4 ply) in terms of track record, sound range, and value.

I will confess I'm caught up on the Pearl MMPs because I really like the sound of Matt Wilson's jazz drums, which, up until recently, were Pearl MMPs. And I do like Tama--just like all well-made drums, really. Hence the difficult choice. Following Harry's logic, any of these kits would do just fine, I suppose. But there is something special, it seems, about the RCs. I imagine the Pearls or Tamas would fade, value-wise and appeal-wise, with time, but people always seem to come back to RCs years after years. And according to people like Garibaldi and Yamaha chief Hagi, the RCs are supposed to improve acoustically with age!

By the way, Harry, to prove your point all the more: retailers, and Yamaha itself, market the Oak Customs as "loud," "big sound," good for rock, etc. I recently played an Oak Custom with 18" kick, put Aquarian DeJohnette heads on them, tuned them up really high, and there is absolutely NO problem with the Oaks for jazz--the sound is a nice, round, clear "bop" sound, and there is no "loudness" problems or massive/boomy ringing. Talk about marketing rubbish!
 

Skitch

Pioneer Member
Thanks, guys, for the feedback. I agree with the "one trick poney" rule, but it always helps to hear others back it up since there is so much inflated marketing drawn out of drum making facts and differences.


I recently had one jazz veteran tell me that most drums today won't even touch a true jazz sound because no one really cuts fully rounded-over edges anymore. I think you can still ask Gretsch to do this--to go back to the bearing edges from the '50s--but most kits are either 30 degrees or some variety within the ever popular 45.
Pearl has rounded bearing edges on their Reference series drums....does this mean that they are jazz drums?

I was also told by this veteran that a good, round shell and good heads and good tuning are more important. He said to take a Remo Coated Ambassador, tune the top head a bit tighter than the resonant head (top head controls pitch, bottom head controls resonance), and the bop sound will project outwards. He said most drums are (a) poorly turned and/or (b) tuned with the bottom head tighter than the top or same as the top, which chokes the drum a bit. He said if you do the latter, the tom will sound fine if it is mic'ed up, but that's rarely the case in jazz acoustic settings.

I guess if this is the case, the RCs would be the way to go. Absolutely no quality problems when it comes to that kit (that I've heard of). I think the RCs would beat out a Tama SC Maple or Pearl MMP (4 ply) in terms of track record, sound range, and value.

I will confess I'm caught up on the Pearl MMPs because I really like the sound of Matt Wilson's jazz drums, which, up until recently, were Pearl MMPs. And I do like Tama--just like all well-made drums, really. Hence the difficult choice. Following Harry's logic, any of these kits would do just fine, I suppose. But there is something special, it seems, about the RCs. I imagine the Pearls or Tamas would fade, value-wise and appeal-wise, with time, but people always seem to come back to RCs years after years. And according to people like Garibaldi and Yamaha chief Hagi, the RCs are supposed to improve acoustically with age!

By the way, Harry, to prove your point all the more: retailers, and Yamaha itself, market the Oak Customs as "loud," "big sound," good for rock, etc. I recently played an Oak Custom with 18" kick, put Aquarian DeJohnette heads on them, tuned them up really high, and there is absolutely NO problem with the Oaks for jazz--the sound is a nice, round, clear "bop" sound, and there is no "loudness" problems or massive/boomy ringing. Talk about marketing rubbish!
I wish that I had video footage of a guy by the name of Trevon Houston. He and I shared the drum chair at a great jazz program at UCO. Trevon played a swingstar drumset with Pinstripes, tuned fairly high. He also had a Tazmanian Devil Sticker on the front head. Trevon always sounded like a Jazz player and he always sounded great! i wish i could go back and listen and learn some more.


Point is, Swingstars are no more a jazz drum than the Recording Custom series....I am agreeing with Harry on this one; it is the hand that weilds the sword which determines its dangerousness.


Mike

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