The TRUTH about drum triggers

C

Crazy8s

Guest
Amen, Brother!

The whole drum thing is mostly smoke and mirrors anyway so I don't know what all the fuss about triggering is about.

It's all about squeezing a 22" sized drumhead sound into a 1" microphone. When you get to playing pretty fast, that drumhead is flap, flap, flappin' away and can barely keep up with the beaters hitting it.

Having a smaller bass drum head makes up for this big flap in the really fast bass drum world, at the expense of the reinforcing BOOM. Combining triggered sounds with the real kick feel is the best of both worlds and results in a very powerful tool for playing really fast kicks that can still be heard through that thick compressed guitar wall.

Another great tool in the toolbox!
 
Hi Tim

This is my first interaction with you, so first I would like to say how impressed I am with your sportsman-like playing of the pedals and applaud your commitment and dedication to our wonderful craft.

On triggers, I would like to say that they do assist with playing at higher speeds. Even though they do not make you play at speed, they enable you to do so.

Here is a cool formula I came up with in some lessons:

Increased Dynamics w/Speed = Less Stamina (>D/S = <s)

They way I feel about it is that triggers allow you to play with a softer dynamic and still retain the volume out front. The speed has to remain constant, as you explained in your video, though the decreased dynamic level of playing is much lower, so the stamina is increased, thus enabling the player to go nuts without worrying about volume. Without triggers, players of the 'extreme' genres would find it incredibly difficult to play for full sets or even some songs without the aid of triggers due to the lack of volume they create from the bass drum at mega speeds. Suffice to say they would need to summon demon-strength or power of thor to cope!

A cool experiment I use to get this point across to my students is this;
Get a pad and play 16th singles at 180bpm at a piano dynamic and see how long you can go for. Ages, right? Now try it at a Forte kind of dynamic, or harder. Not so much?

Im not bashing triggers, I use them on snares myself for effects purposes and for arena gigs, they are more than handy. I just would like to point out that the certainly help you to play faster. Even though the speeds need to be physically reached, the triggers help bass drums to be heard by an audience or to be recorded. Isnt that the point?
 

AtomicFlapjack

Senior Member
Hi Tim

This is my first interaction with you, so first I would like to say how impressed I am with your sportsman-like playing of the pedals and applaud your commitment and dedication to our wonderful craft.

On triggers, I would like to say that they do assist with playing at higher speeds. Even though they do not make you play at speed, they enable you to do so.

Here is a cool formula I came up with in some lessons:

Increased Dynamics w/Speed = Less Stamina (>D/S = <s)

They way I feel about it is that triggers allow you to play with a softer dynamic and still retain the volume out front. The speed has to remain constant, as you explained in your video, though the decreased dynamic level of playing is much lower, so the stamina is increased, thus enabling the player to go nuts without worrying about volume. Without triggers, players of the 'extreme' genres would find it incredibly difficult to play for full sets or even some songs without the aid of triggers due to the lack of volume they create from the bass drum at mega speeds. Suffice to say they would need to summon demon-strength or power of thor to cope!

A cool experiment I use to get this point across to my students is this;
Get a pad and play 16th singles at 180bpm at a piano dynamic and see how long you can go for. Ages, right? Now try it at a Forte kind of dynamic, or harder. Not so much?

Im not bashing triggers, I use them on snares myself for effects purposes and for arena gigs, they are more than handy. I just would like to point out that the certainly help you to play faster. Even though the speeds need to be physically reached, the triggers help bass drums to be heard by an audience or to be recorded. Isnt that the point?
Good points, as well, something often overlooked when people defend triggers is that a constant dynamic is not required. For example, some extreme drummers use methods such as heel toe to play incredibly fast, but some of these players play the second beat weaker. Without a trigger, its the same effect as playing fast alternating strokes but your left foot playing weaker (at a lower dynamic). So, inconsistent dynamics are transformed by triggers into constant dynamics, which contributes a lot to the maximum speed the drummer can get, whilst still sounding good.

I don't doubt for a second you could play double bass twice as fast and consistent as me Tim, but I have disagree and conclude, drum triggers to give an advantage. I think the key thing a lot of people miss out in the triggers argument is this: Drum triggers do not make you 'play faster', they do not increase the speed you play at, however they can generally increase the maximum speed you can sound good at without a trigger (strokes can become inconsistent).
 

Derek Roddy

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
Triggers defiantly make a more consistent sound, BUT THEY DO NOT.....make a drummer play faster.

In order for the trigger to fire.....and human being must push a little beater to the head for the trigger to register a hit by vibration.

Yes, they may crate an illusion of playing faster (to those who are familiar with what they actually do) But, they do NOT allow a drummer to "play faster".

D
 

shadowlorde

Senior Member
Triggers defiantly make a more consistent sound, BUT THEY DO NOT.....make a drummer play faster.

In order for the trigger to fire.....and human being must push a little beater to the head for the trigger to register a hit by vibration.

Yes, they may crate an illusion of playing faster (to those who are familiar with what they actually do) But, they do NOT allow a drummer to "play faster".

D

since getting a yamaha dtxplorer as a practice kit i've also noticed that triggers make the slightest sloppiness more audible ... if your left foot is off a millisecond every other hit .. you hear it .. unlike a non triggered bass drum which at faster speeds just kinda sounds like rolling on a timpani with no definition at anything over 200 (i've never played two separate bass drums only double pedal so i'm assuming there is a big difference )
 

Timekeep69

Senior Member
Those who say that you can set the sensitivity lower to allow the drummer to play softer and therefore faster have never used triggers in a live environment. The lower the sensitivity of the trigger, the more likely you will get cross talk and your bass drum triggers will trigger when you hit other drums. I've heard triggers fire from a loud guitar chord.
 

Tim Waterson

WFD ACEDRUMMER
Triggers defiantly make a more consistent sound, BUT THEY DO NOT.....make a drummer play faster.

In order for the trigger to fire.....and human being must push a little beater to the head for the trigger to register a hit by vibration.

Yes, they may crate an illusion of playing faster (to those who are familiar with what they actually do) But, they do NOT allow a drummer to "play faster".

D
D,
Glad you chimed in because YOU are probably the most KNOWN drummer who made the switch to playing MOST of the time without triggers and Drummers need to hear from someone like you.
Ive been accused of cheating for YEARS....LOL

Like a lot of people I was one of the "triggers are cheating" when I first heard about them .blah blah blah because I wanted to do it for real.LOL
after playing in LOUD bands and they get LOUDER the bassdrums dissapear I thought I better get some triggers and find a sound that cut through.
Most of the time i play without triggers but if i play in a band where the speed goes up Ill turn on the triggers so the sound cuts through the mix.
Tim
 

Derek Roddy

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
Another thing nobody mentions is what about other genres with other drummers?

Go back and watch a Buddy Rich solo......any part where he plays really fast singles on the snare.
From front of house (or through a PA at 100db) you can't hear every note......you can tell he's playing a single stroke....but, it could be a sloppy mess (we know that's not the case as we've all seen footage of Buddy 2 feet away from the kit)

but, IF you were out front....and you didn't know....you wouldn't know. Simply because sound doesn't work that way.

If he was to trigger the snare....you'd hear every note.....not buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

D
 
Im glad youve become involved in this thread Mr Roddy, ive always appreciated your playing and your excellent sense of musicianship, and your quote from the MD fest 'teach versatility to all musicians' is a quote I use regularly.

At no point did I mean to take away from the physical act of playing each stroke, nor have I 'called out' anyone or said it makes you play faster (I dont think anyone has here). It does enable you to play the strokes at a set dynamic, if there were no triggers, these speeds wouldnt be practical in a live situation.

Ive used triggers for years, on side snares to trigger 808 sounds, on small 16" kicks with some low end sub-kick samples to fill out the space. Triggers are a great tool for drummers, and its a shame more people dont fully understand their true potential.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
Just because no one else has thrown it out there yet... and this isn't about how fast you can or can't go, but...

It strikes me as a little odd that we spend so much time, blood and treasure to find that *perfect* kick drum sound (the Pearl Reference Hybrid maple/bubinga/mohagany shell with the PS3 tuned just like Bob Gatzen instructs us to, etc) and then we don't use that sound? Or we use only some of it while mixing in something that's not ours.

Call me crazy, but you might was well stick to your Pearl Exports if that's all you want. Ditto for snares and toms: what's the point in buying a Black Beauty, Brady, or Titanium Dunnett if in the studio you're just going to dampen it all the way down and mix in a little Lars' snare sound? (I know someone who did this!)

Seems to me that the TRUTH about drum triggers is that you can negate loads of cash and tuning effort by using someone else's sound instead of your own. (or possibly just diluting your own)

The only way I can see triggering making any sense is if you sample your own drums and trigger only those. Does anyone do this?
 

ahector

Senior Member
Re: The TRUTH about drum triggers
Just because no one else has thrown it out there yet... and this isn't about how fast you can or can't go, but...

It strikes me as a little odd that we spend so much time, blood and treasure to find that *perfect* kick drum sound (the Pearl Reference Hybrid maple/bubinga/mohagany shell with the PS3 tuned just like Bob Gatzen instructs us to, etc) and then we don't use that sound? Or we use only some of it while mixing in something that's not ours.

Call me crazy, but you might was well stick to your Pearl Exports if that's all you want. Ditto for snares and toms: what's the point in buying a Black Beauty, Brady, or Titanium Dunnett if in the studio you're just going to dampen it all the way down and mix in a little Lars' snare sound? (I know someone who did this!)

Seems to me that the TRUTH about drum triggers is that you can negate loads of cash and tuning effort by using someone else's sound instead of your own. (or possibly just diluting your own)

The only way I can see triggering making any sense is if you sample your own drums and trigger only those. Does anyone do this?
He sampled Lars' snare drum? Oh the humanity!

Listen, you can be negative about triggers and samples all you want, but I for one don't begrudge other musicians and recording engineers for having the audacity to not be masters at recording the drums. It's hard. And it's way harder and much more complicated than buying an expensive kit and watching some YouTube videos on how to tune drums. Reading your post gives me the impression that you don't really know what you're talking about. But if I'm wrong, please point me to some recordings that YOU'VE made with that *perfect* kick drum sound and show us all how it's done.

I use samples. I just got done tracking drums for a recording project that I'm putting together with some friends of mine. We didn't decide to use samples because we don't appreciate the craft of recording music or because we're looking to cheat the system or something. We did it because we're complete amateurs! And my ears are in a different universe than my skills as a recording engineer. I had a month to record a full length album by myself in a freaking cabin with budget equipment. (while working full time as well)

Using a software trigger and samples is going to enable this project to sound so much better than I could hope to make it sound without. Because at the end of the day, I'm not looking to impress anyone with how masterfully this album was recorded. I can't. I'm looking to get some music that I feel passionate about out into the world. And I can't figure out how to get a great kick drum sound and have it punch through a wall of distorted guitars. I've spent years working on it, and I'm still not there yet.

I strongly believe that there is nothing better than a beautifully recorded live performance of a master drummer, and I will not be satisfied until I can do that. I love the craft of recording. One of my absolute favorite drummers is Gavin Harrison, not just because he is a great player but because he is a phenomenal recording engineer. I want to do that. And I'm working on it.

But in the meantime, I need punchy, clear sounding drums, and the only way for me to get them today is to utilize triggering and samples.

The truth about triggers? They are just one of the tools that are enabling a generation of creative people to do stuff that was UNIMAGINABLE just a short time ago. It's great for music!

/rant over
 

Goreliscious

Senior Member
Yeah you gotta be able to play the stuff but drummers that whack up the gain so you get volume 10 out of a weak stroke struggle for my respect. 110% agree with triggers to make the instrument cut through, but not when they're used to sell the image of the drummer being a badass beast that's really just gently tapping away.

I spent days defending triggers to idiots on a metal forum a while back when I used to trigger my (then crap) snare because they tought "Triggers = cheat. Full stop." They couldn't accept that I might just prefer the snare sound on my electronic kit brain and I wasn't gunna whack the gain up to 11 and play like a fairy. Trigger = £20. New snare = £200.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
Reading your post gives me the impression that you don't really know what you're talking about. But if I'm wrong, please point me to some recordings that YOU'VE made with that *perfect* kick drum sound and show us all how it's done.
Whoa camper! I never said I was an engineer; I'm just a drummer who's spent consider time, effort and money getting a drum sound I really like. I've also spent a lot of time figuring out how to play them.

It's the engineer's job to get my sound recorded. I expect any experienced engineer worth paying is going to have put in enough time to know how to record real drums. I'm paying him to get my sound, not to have him have me trigger someone else's sound. Yes, I'm aware that people do this and people are free to do what they want. Do I think it's cheating? Yeah, I guess I do from drum sound POV.

If that perspective makes you think I don't know what I'm talking about, then I don't know what to tell you except: have fun with your Exports and your recording skill set that will never learn to record real drums just because "it's hard."
 

ahector

Senior Member
Whoa camper! I never said I was an engineer; I'm just a drummer who's spent consider time, effort and money getting a drum sound I really like. I've also spent a lot of time figuring out how to play them.

It's the engineer's job to get my sound recorded. I expect any experienced engineer worth paying is going to have put in enough time to know how to record real drums. I'm paying him to get my sound, not to have him have me trigger someone else's sound. Yes, I'm aware that people do this and people are free to do what they want. Do I think it's cheating? Yeah, I guess I do from drum sound POV.

If that perspective makes you think I don't know what I'm talking about, then I don't know what to tell you except: have fun with your Exports and your recording skill set that will never learn to record real drums just because "it's hard."
Thanks for confirming that you don't know anything about recording drums, first of all. Secondly, I do record real drums (unlike you). All the time. As I said, I've been attempting to teach myself how to do this and do it well for many years now. I don't make any claims at being particularly good at it, but I certainly strive to do my best and I am constantly improving.

I'll have fun with that, thank you very much.
 

Tim Waterson

WFD ACEDRUMMER
Whoa camper! I never said I was an engineer; I'm just a drummer who's spent consider time, effort and money getting a drum sound I really like. I've also spent a lot of time figuring out how to play them.

It's the engineer's job to get my sound recorded. I expect any experienced engineer worth paying is going to have put in enough time to know how to record real drums. I'm paying him to get my sound, not to have him have me trigger someone else's sound. Yes, I'm aware that people do this and people are free to do what they want. Do I think it's cheating? Yeah, I guess I do from drum sound POV.

If that perspective makes you think I don't know what I'm talking about, then I don't know what to tell you except: have fun with your Exports and your recording skill set that will never learn to record real drums just because "it's hard."
Sound replacement is NOT what Im talking about.
There are people who think that triggering a drum is going to make you play faster it does not but as many drummers have pointed out it makes it easier to get a consistant sound even at low volumes and of course faster speeds.
What I was alos stating is that some triggerd sounds are desingned with a sharp attack to cut through the music giving the listener the impression its faster than it is.
Tim
After a certain speed in a LOUD band you will need to trigger the bass drums say 16ths at 210 bpm+ start to get lost in the mix.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
So, I've read every post in this thread. What is the truth about triggers, then?
I'm pretty old school and recall Alex Van Halen using Simmons bass drums back when they did 1984 - and he had the Simmons bass drums behind his real bass drums. Nowadays we deal with actual triggers attached to the heads?

I say do whatever you have to do to make the music you need to make. The music should determine what you need to make it happen, yes?
 
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