Well...I didn't think I was being loud

BFrench501

Senior Member
'tothemax's thread on a loud drummer got wanting to ask a question but in reverse. I have recently gone for an audition for a classic rock band, they play the odd R&B number like I Feel Good (James Brown) and Superstition (Stevie Wonder).

I was using a Mapex V series kit that was provided and the toms were dead, no problem for me. But my Dixon 14x4" Maple snare was just cracking through the mix at a ridiculous rate.

I have never had any formal tuition so I hope you guys will bear with me. I think I can tell you whats wrong but can you provide any solutions? I'm trusting their word that I'm too loud but I thought the idea was to get a powerful snare shot through so songs stood out. I'm starting to think thats not the case.

1) Rimshotting a lot - should I be adjusting the angle of the snare so that I cannot rimshot?

2) Equipment - I have 2 other snares. A 13x5" Tama Stagestar Steel snare, and a 14x5.5" Yamaha Steel Snare. I have 2 moongels on each snare and they don't sound as loud, the rimshots seem, bearable but that may just be my room/earplugs taking away the crack.

3) Hot Rods - Ghost notes sound crap with hot rods in my humble opinion, they just don't feel or sound the same way.

4) I was only using 15 and 16 crashes, but the kit was situated right next to the door in an L shaped room. Maybe the sounds bouncing off made it sound worse than it was?

I hope I'm explaining myself okay. I would film but as it was an audition I don't have a second chance. They liked the playing and said it was solid and tight, but said it was more suited to songs like Hard to Handle (Black Crowes version) than Crazy Little Thing Called Love. But Roger Taylor smacks the snare hard on any live versions of the song you don't see the hot rods coming out.

I think I'm in with a shout of landing the part because they have asked me to meet up over coffee to discuss the band, but I want to go in and change things and if anyone can provide some simple tips then that would be great. I don't want to do what they have done with their own snare and put a rubber mat on top of it so it sounds dead and unresponsive. I want to retain the little feel that I have in my hands but play well enough for them.

Also in cover bands, is it important to get every note perfect in a song for gigs, or can some fills be changed up to sound similar? Some fills on Superstition are just so awkward and weird, but theres a cool Steve Smith fill, thats on Neil Pearts work in progress DVD. It is played in triplets across the low rack tom and floor, with Double bass and snare in between. Ill try and find a video when I'm at home but while at work I wanted to get this out while in my head.

Sorry for the uber long post, not the best at explaining myself consisely., Hope it doesn't offend too many peoples eyes and brains.

Thanks for any help and response recieved.

Baz
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Being loud, is a technique thing. But if you're auditioning for a cover band, lots of times it's not the replication of the notes as much as it is replicating the vibe of the song. If you've listened to "Superstition", you'll notice Stevie is not rim-shotting his way through the song, and if you keep your fills to a minimum (as he did), then you're doing alright.

So sound and vibe replication is the key if you're in a cover band situation. That's why it's always good to have two snares, a tight one, and a phat one, so you can switch back and forth depending on the needs of the song.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
1. moongels will cut down on some overtones but in my experience won't silence drums much.
2. I have never been one to like the pervasive rimshots while playing but use them as accents for very loud notes. If they are in you way then yes adjust your snare a kittle lower, or tilt it so that every snare hit isn't a rim shot.
 

JustJames

Platinum Member
Nothing concrete to add, but I'm liking the cut of your jib OP. Instead of telling the world they're wrong, you're listening and trying to meet others' requirements.

In a band, as in any other collective endeavour, personal attitude is as important as talent, so I expect this will work itself out for you.

Keep us posted.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
The gear, moongels, what snare, etc, isn't really relevant.

Every room has it's own acoustics. The same drum can sound very different in different rooms. As a drummer, sometimes we just have to adjust to the room, and adjust to the volume of the rest of the band.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
The right, proper, and most difficult answer..... is to hit less hard. On paper that sounds like it should be easier. It's not. I's actually harder to pull back your drumming than it is to hit normally. Your thread title reveals clues to the issue. It implies you weren't listening to your volume as it actually was.

Rimshots don't have to be loud. Imagine me saying that 4 or 5 times. I use the rim to add tone to the drum. Volume and tone are 2 different things, mutually exclusive, and not dependent on each other. There's many quiet songs where I am using the rim on the entire song, just for the tone. I am one step above of just placing my stick on the head, when I need to play my drums at 2. (if there were a volume knob)

Plus the piccolo snare has the wrong tone for most rock, JMO. It's too harsh and cutting. Ouch.

You may think if you are hitting less hard, you're not giving your all.

That's a great big ugly myth that needs to be overcome. Volume blending is a highly valued skill in drummers, by the others. It takes a heaping helping of security on the drummers part to to hit lighter, all around.

I see this a lot. Drummers think they have to hit hard, all the time. They actually pride themselves on it. Which is so wrong. We are the only ones without a volume knob. We have it much harder in that respect. Instead of turning a master volume down, we have to control the volume for EVERY SINGLE NOTE.

Ask yourself this.... If the others are telling you that you're too loud, why aren't you hearing it? That's the real issue. The drummer should be the FIRST one to know that his/her volume is too high. I mean if you have to be told...you shouldn't have to be told. It's your job to know how loud you are.

Blending the drums to the room, to the song, and to the band is a high skill. Playing a song at anything less than normal hitting feels funny in the beginning, granted, but it is a vital skill.

So you have to adjust your perceptions and your hits, not the drum. Record yourself and listen back. The drums should not be the loudest thing. Mentally, its much harder to play quietly and retain intensity. It's not easy. It's something a lot of guitarists and singers wish drummers would work on.

I have a steady gig that absolutely requires me to tap the snare, (I still use rim for the tone factor) back off the kick, don't play the cymbals too hard. It's a restaurant/bar affair and the first 2 sets are our "dinner" sets. I'm not going to lie and say it's easy, it's not. I really have to keep control of myself at all times. On my gig recordings, you can't tell I'm tapping. The room has no soft surfaces and even my taps sound like I am hitting normally. I'm so not. I prefer to play normally, but I can't here.

The upside is....we get so many compliments. People say things like, "All the other bands that play here blow us out. We love hearing your band because the volume is just perfect for the room"
 
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tothemax

Junior Member
I get your vibe here and it looks like you are willing to try and make things work. As for getting every note in a cover - I accept that I'm never going to be EC or SRV and do my best to make the covers we do both recognizeable and enjoyable for the audience. But they are "our" versions of these songs not our "interpretations" of these songs.

For example on Van Morrison's Wild Night, I really don't care for the John Couger version, it's a fun bass line but I feel it loses the feel of the song. But that's just my opinion... and we know how they are :)

I think you are on the right track and getting a good sound is critical, but playing to the room is also. I took my nephew to see Alice Cooper a few years ago (he was 16) and the opening act was so freaking loud we were numb by the time Alice came on. They had quality sound which is a far cry from just loud.

I like the recording the practice option - that should give us a good working model, might work for you as well.

Cheers...
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Everything larryace said is right on !!

Also try rehearsing in a small tight circle. Each band member, guitar amps and drums facing the center of the circle.
You will be amazed at what happens. Everyone will know exactly how loud or soft they are playing.


.
 

drum4fun27302

Gold Member
Rimshots aren't the reason why the snare was too loud. They cut thru more. Try lighter sticks , holding the sticks closer to the middle (less leverage) retuning the top head , adding cotton balls inside the snare , and also hitting less hard.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
I think it is telling that all 3 of your snares are steel and that you hit rimshots.
That combination = loud.
 

BFrench501

Senior Member
I think it is telling that all 3 of your snares are steel and that you hit rimshots.
That combination = loud.
Funnily enough the snare that caused me to get the feedback was my wooden Dixon 14x4 snare. Piccolo's cut quite a bit though :)

I'm grateful for all the tips I've had off you guys. I've practised playing at different volumes but still with conviction and it is possible, I just have to keep reminding myself to lower the volume and not use so many rimshots.

It's funny that the bands I was in 7 years ago thought I was a poor drummer and not 'solid' because I never used the rimshot yet now I've returned to playing for the past 2 months I know that using rim shot is completely unnecessary. Its like I practised something that wasn't needed. Now I know that rimshots are mainly for accenting its made my life a lot easier. I'd been really grating myself in practise for missing the occasional rimshot during a song, I'd practised it almost like I had OCD. :-(

Being able to adjust wasn't as problematic as I thought it would be, I'd just never been told by any other band that I drummed too loud for them. I was always told I was too quiet and I'd always thought they had their amps up too loud - when you feel vibrations through your bum cheeks then the bass is turned up wayyyyy too loud.

I do want to respond to some individual points with more questions when I've got time. I am grateful for everything here so far, I've felt good after making some changes straight away. I just couldnt adjust to dead quiet playing during the audition, I must've put too much pressure on myself :)

Thanks
Baz
 

Bull

Gold Member
I'm with Larry. My snare is all rimshots. It just sounds better for rock. Just adjust the volume of your rimshots. They don't have to be loud.
 

evilg99

Platinum Member
The right, proper, and most difficult answer..... is to hit less hard. On paper that sounds like it should be easier. It's not. I's actually harder to pull back your drumming than it is to hit normally. Your thread title reveals clues to the issue. It implies you weren't listening to your volume as it actually was.

Rimshots don't have to be loud. Imagine me saying that 4 or 5 times. I use the rim to add tone to the drum. Volume and tone are 2 different things, mutually exclusive, and not dependent on each other. There's many quiet songs where I am using the rim on the entire song, just for the tone. I am one step above of just placing my stick on the head, when I need to play my drums at 2. (if there were a volume knob)

Plus the piccolo snare has the wrong tone for most rock, JMO. It's too harsh and cutting. Ouch.

You may think if you are hitting less hard, you're not giving your all.

That's a great big ugly myth that needs to be overcome. Volume blending is a highly valued skill in drummers, by the others. It takes a heaping helping of security on the drummers part to to hit lighter, all around.

I see this a lot. Drummers think they have to hit hard, all the time. They actually pride themselves on it. Which is so wrong. We are the only ones without a volume knob. We have it much harder in that respect. Instead of turning a master volume down, we have to control the volume for EVERY SINGLE NOTE.

Ask yourself this.... If the others are telling you that you're too loud, why aren't you hearing it? That's the real issue. The drummer should be the FIRST one to know that his/her volume is too high. I mean if you have to be told...you shouldn't have to be told. It's your job to know how loud you are.

Blending the drums to the room, to the song, and to the band is a high skill. Playing a song at anything less than normal hitting feels funny in the beginning, granted, but it is a vital skill.

So you have to adjust your perceptions and your hits, not the drum. Record yourself and listen back. The drums should not be the loudest thing. Mentally, its much harder to play quietly and retain intensity. It's not easy. It's something a lot of guitarists and singers wish drummers would work on.

I have a steady gig that absolutely requires me to tap the snare, (I still use rim for the tone factor) back off the kick, don't play the cymbals too hard. It's a restaurant/bar affair and the first 2 sets are our "dinner" sets. I'm not going to lie and say it's easy, it's not. I really have to keep control of myself at all times. On my gig recordings, you can't tell I'm tapping. The room has no soft surfaces and even my taps sound like I am hitting normally. I'm so not. I prefer to play normally, but I can't here.

The upside is....we get so many compliments. People say things like, "All the other bands that play here blow us out. We love hearing your band because the volume is just perfect for the room"
I could not possibly agree with this more.

Learn to play quieter and at different volume levels. Indeed, hard to do while still making it groove/rock/swing/whatever.

I think there is nothing more practical or more useful that a gigging drummer can practice.

Also agree that perhaps a wood snare or maybe rods or brushes help in some styles but not as effective as learning to play with controlled volume and dynamics.

Neal
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
It was a chore at first, learning to play quiet. I didn't prefer it. But I HAD to do it. And it has served me very well since. It's not something I learned until I had to.

It's all about listening to the big picture and adjusting until you blend well. Guys who are playing too loud...aren't hearing the big picture. I feel embarrassed for the drummer when they are clueless about their volume. Embarrasses the fam and all.
 

radman

Senior Member
It was a chore at first, learning to play quiet. I didn't prefer it. But I HAD to do it. And it has served me very well since. It's not something I learned until I had to.

It's all about listening to the big picture and adjusting until you blend well. Guys who are playing too loud...aren't hearing the big picture. I feel embarrassed for the drummer when they are clueless about their volume. Embarrasses the fam and all.
+1 for this post and Larry's earlier one. It is mostly about technique ... and a technique that, once developed, will pay dividends for the rest of your days.

For many things, rimshots being one of them, it is easier to play the drum(s) loud than it is to play soft. (and it is frustrating to learn the "soft" technique) Once you get the softer or at least "appropriate" playing volume nailed, your bandmates and audience will love you. This leads to call backs and steady gigs, IMHO.

Go for it, Baz.

radman
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Once you get the softer or at least "appropriate" playing volume nailed, your bandmates and audience will love you. This leads to call backs and steady gigs, IMHO.

radman
The room that we have to play quiet in....now they want us at least 3 times a month, this month we are there 4 times. IMO that's too much saturation for one band, but whatever, it's a testament to how much they like us there.
 

BFrench501

Senior Member
Just thought I'd provide an update to this thread.

I have landed myself a permanent spot in the covers band, now that I have been able to adjust my volume. It helps that I am a very good band member to have as I'm committed, always seeking feedback on performance, punctual, honest and got well rounded musical ability which helps me be a little more sympathetic to vocals/guitar solos etc.

I'm not at the stage where I can tap and still groove (I cheat and use brushes, sounds better anyway) but I can play quieter just by making sure my setup is a little more compact so my arm movements are minimalised. The more minimalised the movement, the less time I have to swing into the cymbals.

On my 14x5.5 Steel snare I just have it tuned a little bit lower rather than cranked up. This works well for the whole setlist as it isnt too low or too high, so I can go from Are You Gonna Go My Way, to Get Back, to My Generation without the snare sounding like it doesn't belong in the mix.

Once again I'm grateful for the responses here and for telling me it how it is, this has been ever so useful to me. Too many sugarcoat things or blame other musicians but you've helped me to help myself.

Thanks
Baz
 

JohnPloughman

Silver Member
The right, proper, and most difficult answer..... is to hit less hard. On paper that sounds like it should be easier. It's not. I's actually harder to pull back your drumming than it is to hit normally. Your thread title reveals clues to the issue. It implies you weren't listening to your volume as it actually was.

Rimshots don't have to be loud. Imagine me saying that 4 or 5 times. I use the rim to add tone to the drum. Volume and tone are 2 different things, mutually exclusive, and not dependent on each other. There's many quiet songs where I am using the rim on the entire song, just for the tone. I am one step above of just placing my stick on the head, when I need to play my drums at 2. (if there were a volume knob)

Plus the piccolo snare has the wrong tone for most rock, JMO. It's too harsh and cutting. Ouch.

You may think if you are hitting less hard, you're not giving your all.

That's a great big ugly myth that needs to be overcome. Volume blending is a highly valued skill in drummers, by the others. It takes a heaping helping of security on the drummers part to to hit lighter, all around.

I see this a lot. Drummers think they have to hit hard, all the time. They actually pride themselves on it. Which is so wrong. We are the only ones without a volume knob. We have it much harder in that respect. Instead of turning a master volume down, we have to control the volume for EVERY SINGLE NOTE.

Ask yourself this.... If the others are telling you that you're too loud, why aren't you hearing it? That's the real issue. The drummer should be the FIRST one to know that his/her volume is too high. I mean if you have to be told...you shouldn't have to be told. It's your job to know how loud you are.

Blending the drums to the room, to the song, and to the band is a high skill. Playing a song at anything less than normal hitting feels funny in the beginning, granted, but it is a vital skill.

So you have to adjust your perceptions and your hits, not the drum. Record yourself and listen back. The drums should not be the loudest thing. Mentally, its much harder to play quietly and retain intensity. It's not easy. It's something a lot of guitarists and singers wish drummers would work on.

I have a steady gig that absolutely requires me to tap the snare, (I still use rim for the tone factor) back off the kick, don't play the cymbals too hard. It's a restaurant/bar affair and the first 2 sets are our "dinner" sets. I'm not going to lie and say it's easy, it's not. I really have to keep control of myself at all times. On my gig recordings, you can't tell I'm tapping. The room has no soft surfaces and even my taps sound like I am hitting normally. I'm so not. I prefer to play normally, but I can't here.

The upside is....we get so many compliments. People say things like, "All the other bands that play here blow us out. We love hearing your band because the volume is just perfect for the room"

This totally nails it. The last active gig I had required us to play out 3-5 times a month, mostly at, of all things, retirement assisted living facilities. The rooms we played in were seldom designed for anything other than whatever could be thrown into them. Floors ranged from carpet to vinyl tile to porcelain. Acoustics were anything from totally dead to an echo chamber. And the audience was often less than 5 feet from the drums. I don't even OWN a set of hot rods. Some songs use brushes, but not all of them. It takes a lot of effort to get it right all the time.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Just thought I'd provide an update to this thread.

I have landed myself a permanent spot in the covers band, now that I have been able to adjust my volume. It helps that I am a very good band member to have as I'm committed, always seeking feedback on performance, punctual, honest and got well rounded musical ability which helps me be a little more sympathetic to vocals/guitar solos etc.

I'm not at the stage where I can tap and still groove (I cheat and use brushes, sounds better anyway) but I can play quieter just by making sure my setup is a little more compact so my arm movements are minimalised. The more minimalised the movement, the less time I have to swing into the cymbals.

On my 14x5.5 Steel snare I just have it tuned a little bit lower rather than cranked up. This works well for the whole setlist as it isnt too low or too high, so I can go from Are You Gonna Go My Way, to Get Back, to My Generation without the snare sounding like it doesn't belong in the mix.

Once again I'm grateful for the responses here and for telling me it how it is, this has been ever so useful to me. Too many sugarcoat things or blame other musicians but you've helped me to help myself.

Thanks
Baz
I have to give you a standing O for your attitude here. It's awesome. It's clear you are flexible enough to ditch what isn't working and start over again. That attitude will carry you very far indeed.

Thanks for showing everyone how it's done.
 
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