Versatility

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Not always. I was never mic'd in the jam room. Wasn't always mic'd at gigs either. I had standard toms, not power toms. Wasn't an issue. Yeah my kicks were huge, but this isn't my point anyhow. I contend that any drum can be used in any musical setting. There is no jazz kit, metal kit, country kit, hip hop kit, etc. Drums are drums, they have no affiliation.
Yeah, I guess you are correct. But it kind of depends on how loud the other players (Guitars) are playing.
How about this statement: "For drums, electronic amplification is the great equalizer."


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larryace

"Uncle Larry"
In general I agree with you Larry. Sound (tone) wise any drum kit could be used for any type of music. But for me I lose the versatility thing when it comes to how loud I need to play. These examples are drums using no artificial amplification (microphones and amplifiers).

For instance at a very small venue like a private party in someone’s front room, playing jazz or blues, I use my 63’ Slingerland kit: 20” bass drum, 12” tom and 14” floor tom. For a loud rock gig I’ll use my Yamaha Live Custom kit; 22” bass, 12”, 13”, and 16” floor tom. My point is because of the design of the drums I’d have a difficult time using my 63’ Slingerland kit for a loud rock gig.
Fair enough. No mics does limit things, but if the drummer has to compensate by hitting much harder than a reasonable top limit....the drummer is working too hard and IMO amplification is necessary. I still think the Slingy kit could do the rock gig unmiced, provided the other's volume wasn't extreme. In which case no unmiced kit could keep up.
And since amplification is an option, this further supports the notion that any drum can do any style. I can crank my 14 x 7 snare to the stratosphere, to the point where it could pass as a piccolo. Piccolo drums and rototoms may be the least versatile drums in terms of getting both low tunings and high tunings satisfactorily. To this ear anyway. That's about as far as I would go in describing a drum as not versatile.

We are imprinted with certain sounds for certain styles though. If the jazz guys in the 40's all had tour busses and roadies to go to gigs with, would they still have used small bass drums? Maybe, maybe not. Tony W. played a rock kit for a while.

I agree with Jeremy when he says that a 14 x 5 and a 14 x 6.5 can cover 95% of the sonic ground required of a snare.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
We can agree that drums do sound different from one another, and in that respect I think it's possible for some sets to sound "better" than others for certain tunings or music types/situations.

However, I still agree with Larry, for the most part, you can do what you want and nobody is going to care if it's the "ideal" tom sound for a song. It will work just fine.

For me it's like sticks. I know some guys who change their stick multiple times a nice or depending on what style of music they play that night. I used to be that way. Now days I play literally the same middle of the road standard 5b for everything. It's actually easier for me and I've never once had any issue being "too loud" or "not loud enough" due to my stick size. The touch is in your hands and for me the important part is that the stick not be too small so I'm not doing more work than required.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
When I was looking for my set, I wanted something versatile. To me, that meant the most versatile sizes and a wide tuning range. Shells producing more punch, rather than boom, to me are more universal. 20 or 22" BD is more versatile than smaller or larger sizes, same for toms, but if they don't have a decent tuning range and choke in either direction, then they aren't versatile at all. Sometimes it's the hardware too, and how well a drum can hold a tuning.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
What was the question? Just kidding. I think you're correct Larry versatility lies in the drummer-embracing variety of styles and adaptable to any given moments of change. Drums per se have to be tuned, limited by size of drum, some are specialty like tympani or timbales so less versatile. Yep I'd say the versatility lies in the drummer-but I'm usually wrong so I'm going with it's all the drum.
 

Drifter in the Dark

Silver Member
I know some guys who change their stick multiple times a nice or depending on what style of music they play that night. I used to be that way. Now days I play literally the same middle of the road standard 5b for everything. It's actually easier for me and I've never once had any issue being "too loud" or "not loud enough" due to my stick size. The touch is in your hands and for me the important part is that the stick not be too small so I'm not doing more work than required.
I can relate to this; I've tried lots of different sticks over the years & used to switch constantly, but now I've settled into Vic Firth's 7A model for everything I play, just because it feels the most natural to me, like the stick is an extension of my body. I get all the volume and projection I need. And it's funny- I used to play 5B's because I thought they were what you "should" play in order to get more volume & power, but it turns out that, for me, that's not the case at all! As you said, the touch is in your hands, and in my hands, a smaller-diameter stick just works better. I especially like the cracking backbeat sound I can get from the snare drum; there's a certain attack to it that I couldn't get if I used a 5A or 5B.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I can relate to this; I've tried lots of different sticks over the years & used to switch constantly, but now I've settled into Vic Firth's 7A model for everything I play, just because it feels the most natural to me, like the stick is an extension of my body. I get all the volume and projection I need. And it's funny- I used to play 5B's because I thought they were what you "should" play in order to get more volume & power, but it turns out that, for me, that's not the case at all! As you said, the touch is in your hands, and in my hands, a smaller-diameter stick just works better. I especially like the cracking backbeat sound I can get from the snare drum; there's a certain attack to it that I couldn't get if I used a 5A or 5B.
Yea, everyone is different. In my case, there's no sounds or textures I can't create with the 5B, and going smaller just means I have to work harder when I do want to be louder or even just get good stick-bounce from my throws. Basic human logic would think that a smaller stick would "bounce" more but that's not the reality as the bounce is a result of the weight/energy put in. After a few teachers I respected explained that to me I finally just said forget it and went with the most middle ground stick I could without being too small. I can always adjust my velocity and stick heights to play quietly, but to play with more punch and a small stick I really only have the option of working harder for what I'm doing. I like to let the stick do the work. It's probably a personal thing but after adjusting I also just find the larger diameter to be easier to manipulate and cradle in my hand, exactly as teach said it would.

One thing that does make a giant difference in the sound of a stick, especially on cymbals is the shape of the tip. It's really quite crazy how different one stick can sound from another based upon how and how much of the stick contacts the surface. Even so, I still use the same for everything.

Anyway, clearly there's a parallel to the rest of the thread here because in the actual end-result music, nobody else gives a damn what stick we're using as long as we play the right way and make the right sounds. Same goes for the drums. Use whatever you like and are most comfortable with.
 

oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
In my opinion the most versatile drum would be the drum that responds the most quick in the biggest dynamic range and not necessarily the drum that has the biggest sonic (tuning) range..

Regarding small snare drums..:

The last 600-700 shows that i played were all with a 13x3 Pearl maple snare (tuned fairly low and adjusted with die cast hoops) as main snare drum and a 10x5 Yamaha snare as second snare drum and that worked in all situations perfect..

I played that way with wedding bands disco, funk, soul, walzes, etc and with a (very) loud rock coverband everything Rammstein, Metallica, AC/DC, Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, etc..And that was a cover band that made Rammstein actually sound like Rammstein should sound..

I have to admit though that during all those gigs the complete set was with microphones..

If i would have many acoustic gigs, maybe i would decide to play with a 14x4 or 14x5 snare drum, but definitely not bigger than that..

To me, at the moment, 14 inch snare drums play pretty uncomfortable..
 

Mongrel

Silver Member
I still have my 1960s Rogers Hoiliday five piece with a 20" and 24" bass drums, 12", 13", 16" toms and cob Powertone snare. Can't think of any genre I haven't or could not play with that kit.

I also have my Tama birch Starclassic Performers-8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 22 (x18). Can't think of a genre I haven't played or couldn't play with that kit either....

Heads, tuning, and technique.
 

MJD

Silver Member
I've always interpreted the claim that a drum is versatile as saying it has a wide tuning range. Me, I just use the same kit for everything. I got a 20, 12, 14 kit with a 5 x 14 snare which is nice and generic so it sounds good in the vast majority of situations. sometimes I might swap out the 14 inch floor tom for a 16 inch floor tom but thats about it.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I was always of the thought that if you take the same sized and headed drum from say 5 different current manufacturers, in my mind, they should all have the same tuning range. It's a matter of physics, is it not? Every 12" drum I ever owned had essentially the same tuning range.

Does anyone have experience otherwise?
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I was always of the thought that if you take the same sized and headed drum from say 5 different current manufacturers, in my mind, they should all have the same tuning range. It's a matter of physics, is it not? Every 12" drum I ever owned had essentially the same tuning range.

Does anyone have experience otherwise?
I know you just said "current manufacturer". My 63" Slingerland toms have a limited tuning range compared to my newer toms. This is due to mahogany interiors, re-rings and rounded over bearing edges. So if you buy a drum like this from a current manufacturer, then yes you will find it has a narrow tuning range; compared to a drum that has 45 degree bearing edges and is made of birch or maple. By tuning range I mean where the drum sustains with a nice loud tone.


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8Mile

Platinum Member
Tony W. played a rock kit for a while.
He did. But it sounded like rock to me when he did. Tony could pull off anything. But he was Tony Williams. If you or I tried to play a giant drum set that loud in a piano trio, it would freak people out and probably get us fired.
 

trickg

Silver Member
When advising on a certain drum brand, I was often asked if the drum / kit was versatile. Well, of course it is within bounds, but I offered this - "if you seek a truly versatile drum, then you only need one. If you seek character, then by it's limiting definition, it's therefore less versatile, but more distinctive". A truly versatile drum does everything to an acceptable standard. There's a lot of choice if that's your goal.
I really really like this response, and it makes a lot of sense.

As others have said, you can take anything and make it do anything, based on some minor tweaks, but some things are better suited to certain tasks than others.

Take my trumpet for example. It's a Jupiter XO 1600i, the Roger Ingram signature trumpet. (For those who are unfamiliary with Roger Ingram, he was Harry Connick Jr's lead trumpet player for over 20 years) This horn has some characteristics that I really like for the playing I do with the wedding band - It slots exceptionally well, so it's secure in how it plays, particularly with a shallower "lead-type" mouthpiece, and It has a very bright, cutting sound - borderlines on brash at times. That's the character of that horn, and it's great for anything in the commercial genre of music.

However, as a classical trumpet, it gets the job done ok, particularly with the right selection of mouthpiece, but if you push it a bit too hard in the upper register, it still wants to brighten up and cut, and it stands out a little too much, particularly in a chamber group like a brass quintet. It's not as versatile as the ubiquitous medium large bore Bach Stradivarius with a 37 - what I refer to as the "vanilla Bach," simply because the sound is less distinctive - it's a great do-everything trumpet, but IMO it doesn't truly excel at any one particular thing.

Drums are the same way. I doubt if you'd want to play arena rock on a 12x5 snare drum. You "could" do it, but a 6.5x14 Supraphonic or Black Beauty would get the job done better.
 

SirSwingsAlot

Well-known member
If I could have infinite kits setup always for infinite styles I would. That being said, I think it’s all up to the player and their preference. But, a bandleader may have ideas as well, old jazz guys use to make drummers use their cymbals because it was the sound they wanted for their band.
Sorry for rambling on (sorry I had to...rip Bonzo) but that’s my two cents
 
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