The right tools for the job.

Jeremy Bender

Platinum Member
I'm thinking about the band I saw last night and how the drummer grooved his tail-off while playing in a Motown review group. An appreciative audience started dancing and had a great time. Using a simple four piece kit he played the parts well and true to the feel of those famous Detroit recordings of Temptations, 4 Tops, The Supremes, Smoky Robinson and others.

Now I love reading about new gear and trying out new gear like a lot of us do, but none of that occurred to me at the time as someone simply enjoying the music being performed.

The reality check for me is how a simple 4 piece kit with a couple of cymbals and a cowbell will get the job done in the right hands.
So for me, it's back to basics for awhile (a long while).
 
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Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
I've kept my kit in the shed a 4-piece for quite a while now. This whole year, really. Only one crash, too.

It started with me wanting to focus on that and getting comfortable with a small bop configuration.

I also keeps me focused on the right things. It's easy to get distracted by more drums, for me anyway.

One might think it would diminish my ability to handle a bigger kit, but that's not the case. In many ways it's quite the contrary.

My practice kit is even more reduced. I just took the toms away. It was nice to be able to simulate the movement to the toms on the pratice kit, but it feels less important now. I do shorter sessions these days, I have access to both as well as various 4- and 5-piece kits at work. It's a not a full supplement. Both kits sort of dictate what I can practice one them and I'm enjoying that separation right now. Having ride, hats and BD on both is what makes the most difference.
 

RickP

Gold Member
Great thread, the vast majority of my gigs these days are I play on a four piece. A ride and two crashes and hihats completes the setup. I used to use larger setups with lots of Toms, Cymbals and multiple snare drums. I came to my senses the more I played out. I hated carting items out that I would barely use on a gig. The groove became the focus over fills and guess what I got more calls to play with people. I also became more creative with my fills as well.
 
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larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I'm seriously considering downsizing to a 4 piece, 13x9, 14x12, 22x16 and the snare flavor of the day, with the stuff I'm playing now.

I'm scared lol.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
As much as I try bigger sets, I always return to a 4-piece with one or two cymbals. But I always have a cowbell.

I’ve gone even one more and have lately been using a cheap MIJ Japan Yamaha kit from 1967 (12/14/20) and a 5x14 8-lug Ludwig student snare. I figure if I’m playing music popular in the 60s-70s, might as well use a kit that was there ;
 

Steady Freddy

Pioneer Member
'I dunno,

If you can lay down a solid groove it doesn't matter if you're playing snare, kick, and hats, or a 20 piece kit, you can either lay it down or you can't.

If you can't, a lot of drums or fewer drums won't matter.
 

gf2564

Junior Member
'I dunno,

If you can lay down a solid groove it doesn't matter if you're playing snare, kick, and hats, or a 20 piece kit, you can either lay it down or you can't.

If you can't, a lot of drums or fewer drums won't matter.
Bingo! Never have been one that believes less will "force" you to be more creative or somehow magically more musical! As you say, either you have it or don't! I started playing 4 piece kits in the '60's moved up to 8-9 piece through the years and settled on a six piece configuration that is most comfortable for me (two crashes, ride and hats). I use them for rock, pop, jazz, motown, country........ whatever I am playing. I don't always use them of course, but they are there if needed; kind of like a security blanket I suppose!
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Last night was the straw that broke my 5 piece kit's back. I just don't need this big of a kit for what I'm doing.

I'm going 4 piece, so everybody out of my way!

I'm paring down the cymbals too. 2 great rides, 1 crash, 1 splash. And a bovine clanker.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Yes, I like using a 4 piece kit. I do it when the type of music and the venue calls for it.
And I love the comment from Odd-Arne Oseberg: "It also sends a signal to the group about where your priorities are."
But for those heavy rock gigs I love playing my 5 piece.


.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Yeah. Nothing against bringing more gear if needed and appropriate.

In my case, apart from playing fusion with friends, that's been only one time. The reason was the wide range of music.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
I used to be one of those huge kit guys. And if I'm honest, I do like to pull out the whole shell kit from time to time to putter around on. But since I got my Ludwig 4-piece, I've found it has been more than enough for the majority of my gigs. Likewise with cymbals: I've been playing with hats, ride, and two crashes for a lot of gigs over the last couple of years, and then I bought an Omni to use as a crash-ride. I'm only using it and an 18" for the musical I'm playing right now; and earlier this year I played a wedding gig with just the Omni and hats. It was great.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
The reality check for me is how a simple 4 piece kit with a couple of cymbals and a cowbell will get the job done in the right hands.
Agreed, but gig dependent. For most gigs, that's the only setup you'll need, but for some, more is beneficial.

In my cover band, I went from 6 piece to 4 piece for 18 months. Of course, I could make it work, but I realised the gig called for more choices. Most importantly, the band wanted those choices. Provide what the gig requires.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Agreed, but gig dependent. For most gigs, that's the only setup you'll need, but for some, more is beneficial.

In my cover band, I went from 6 piece to 4 piece for 18 months. Of course, I could make it work, but I realised the gig called for more choices. Most importantly, the band wanted those choices. Provide what the gig requires.
You let the band tell you what to do? What? They don’t even know how to play their own instruments let alone speak for anybody else! Turn off that crazy talk right now!

;)
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
ALL of my local gigs are done with a 4-pc (or 3-pc on occasion) and on tour, I've been using a 5-pc for more than 20 years. I had tried to cut back to 4, but there were a few occasions where I absolutely needed 3 tom sounds. From 1987 to 1994, I toyed with 6- and 7-pc kits, but really didn't need them. Looking back, I undoubtedly made some poor choices by deliberately exploiting those additional toms.

Bermuda
 

gish

Senior Member
I’ve been gigging with a 4 piece exclusively for about 20 years now. The main reason I went to this setup years back was comfort. With 2 toms on the kick I just couldn’t seem to find a spot for the ride that felt right. I tried offsetting the toms to the left of the bass drum but that interfered with hi hat placement. Removing a tom solved these issues for me. In my mind a comfortable setup that is easy to play over those long gigs is extremely important. It would appear that there are many others that feel the same. I still play around with different setups at home but stick with the 4 piece for live work. One thing I’ve never heard from any of the bands I’ve worked for; “hey man can you bring more toms?”. A 4 piece with a couple of cymbals is all I’ve ever really needed.
 

Mongrel

Silver Member
No problem with the idea of using a 4-piece (I use one my self most of the time).

What bothers me is when using a 4-piece becomes an issue of pride or some kind of badge of honor. Like if you can't see the superiority of the 4 piece you must be blind....

Thankfully I see no sign if that attitude in this thread. :)

We really shouldn't have to justify our choices one way or the other beyond "I use this for this" and it works for me in my context...
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
What bothers me is when using a 4-piece becomes an issue of pride or some kind of badge of honor. Like if you can't see the superiority of the 4 piece you must be blind....

Thankfully I see no sign if that attitude in this thread. :)
Who needs an attitude when you're already enlightened?
 
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