Re: Todd Sucherman here!
I can't really say what sound is perfect because that begs the question: Perfect for what? I try to let the music dictate the sound of the snare. One constant for me is a coated ambassador on top and a hazy ambassador snare side and well as cheap snappy or Gibraltar snares. I'm not into the "designer wires" as they just don't do it for me. There's a brightness and a snap (to me) with the cheap wires. My opinion only.
I like a little "breath" behind the crack and some of that comes from not having the wires too tight against the bottom head---even if the bottom head is tight which it often is. Some times it's cranked even if the top is medium and open. It's true that for playing rock and certainly most backbeat based western music I like a pillow in the bass drum. I like the spike and if you have a good drum there will be nice inherent low end with and after the attack. I like that contrast. But again the tuning of the snare (from low and beefy to Stewart Copeland range) will depend entirely on the music. I hope I've answered your question and I appreciate your note!
Thanks for the compliments on the MD Fest dvd! I really appreciate your kind words. I talk a little bit about long phrases in my dvd, but to answer your question, I'm doing it consciously and spontaneously. Or really, improvising. I'll think in 4 or 8 bar phrases and sometimes longer with over the bar line ideas. I think of them as sentences is a way. Some sentences are short and some are quite long. I like that improvisational landscape and it keeps it interesting because I'll think of different ideas from night to night. I don't get to play like that with the band but if I'm doing clinics it's exciting to see what will come out of me. Some nights are "on" and some, not so "on." Then you can rely on what works---but I like pushing into the unknown. Those are the best nights for me. Thanks again for dropping me a note!
As ever, thanks for your amazing site and all the great work you do for drummers worldwide.