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  #1  
Old 09-27-2017, 10:40 PM
AndeeT AndeeT is offline
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Default 'A good workman never blames his tools'

Does that hold true all the time in drumming? As drummers we often have to use other peoples gear, it might be nearly new, it might be gaffa-taped together, it may be set up similar to our own preference, or completely alien feeling.

Over the years I have tried to get used to this fact and thought I was doing pretty well in terms of learning to adapt... until yesterday.

I went to the local music rehearsal space. Last month I moved from the UK to NZ so all the drum gear I own at the moment equates to a few pairs of sticks. Amazingly, the rehearsal space had a pair of Pearl double pedals.

I have been working on double pedal chops pretty much exclusively for the past six months so naturally I was happy to get to try the pedals. But my playing felt worse than six months ago and I came away feeling underwhelmed and dissapointed.

In retrospect, the pedals were pretty old and shoddy; they were single chain and the main pedal chain had a play of 1 cm either way side-to-side. The beaters were set up close to the batter head and the left was about 1 cm even closer to the head. last of all, the spurs were worn, resulting in the slave pedal jumping firward with each accented stroke. I had to stop playing about every 30 second to grab the slave pedal and drag it back to where it started.

I am trying to adhere to the Thomas Lang theory that you should be able to play with any gear; any sticks, any drums, any pedals....but, is there a time when you can give yourself some leeway and blame (or at least attribute some of the blame) to the tools?
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  #2  
Old 09-28-2017, 08:44 PM
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

It makes it difficult to play those tasty jazz licks on toms with dented Hydraulic heads tuned JAW, yes. Tolerance and adaptability with gear have to do with each individual drummer's experience, playing style, etc. Ultimately, it is up to the drummer to make music with what they have, but sometimes circumstances and equipment make it MUCH harder than we're accustomed to...
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Old 09-28-2017, 10:56 PM
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

You adhere to the Thomas Lang theory of being able to play anything (actually, it isn't just his mantra, it's been a mantra of the pros since the dawn of time).

Whenever I'm faced with a strange drum set (being left-handed, that's most of the time), I let the music dictate to me what essentials are needed. Most of the time I'll be providing a good solid groove, so just so long as the bass drum, snare drum, and hi-hat are in a good position, then I'll be fine. I never let anything mess up the time (a Jeff Porcaro phrase). So if that means I can't do certain over-rehearsed licks, then that's what that means.
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Old 09-29-2017, 12:00 AM
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

Adapt your playing to get what you can from the a available gear. I played trombone in a big band for a weekend of country gigs years ago where the supplied kit had no rack tom. Our drummer played all weekend on what was available - sounded great.
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  #5  
Old 09-29-2017, 06:55 AM
AndeeT AndeeT is offline
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

Thanks for your replies. So the feeling I am getting is that rather than attempt to play more advanced things and fail/mess up the feel because I can't pull it off with the gear available, we should stick to the basics (which should theoretically work with any gear).

Makes good sense to me but what if the music is by definition technically demanding and there is no option for a stripped down version? I guess it's still better to hold a basic rhythm rather than 'mess up the time', but with technical pieces it may be so far removed from the original that it's almost as jarring?

I guess to someone that want to hear a song played like it was on a record, a bare bones version might be annoying, but the again to a 'virgin' listener, something that doesn't mess with time is always better...
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Old 09-29-2017, 07:22 AM
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

If the gear is minimally serviceable, then we should be able to execute our intent, all things being equal. But just as you wouldn't use a stripped screwdriver or a broken hammer on the job, neither should you settle for a jacked-up pedal or damaged heads on your work equipment.

Obviously sometimes you turn up for the open mic night or the "shared kit" gig, and things are a disaster. And in that case, it is what it is. Do your best. But it sounds like you had a shoddy piece of gear that actually was holding you back.
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  #7  
Old 09-29-2017, 08:12 AM
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

Quote:
Originally Posted by AndeeT View Post
Thanks for your replies. So the feeling I am getting is that rather than attempt to play more advanced things and fail/mess up the feel because I can't pull it off with the gear available, we should stick to the basics (which should theoretically work with any gear).

Makes good sense to me but what if the music is by definition technically demanding and there is no option for a stripped down version? I guess it's still better to hold a basic rhythm rather than 'mess up the time', but with technical pieces it may be so far removed from the original that it's almost as jarring?

I guess to someone that want to hear a song played like it was on a record, a bare bones version might be annoying, but the again to a 'virgin' listener, something that doesn't mess with time is always better...
I suppose it depends on your audience and the music you're playing, and at that point you should defer to your better judgment. But even if you listen to ELP with Carl Palmer (who didn't really groove that well - I mean, he's no Steve Jordan, but that's a whole other genre), there's still a semblance of groove because your first job is to get the band through the tune smoothly. So do what you can. And even then, if you blow a technical fill because of the gear, it's doubtful your average audience member will notice that. But they will notice if the whole song sucks.

You have to learn whose opinion counts most - the regular audience/club owner, or the hi-brow musicians. Go with the group that knows more girls ;)
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  #8  
Old 09-29-2017, 08:47 AM
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

Yes I agree. A drummer should be able to play well on any drum set.

HOWEVER, sometimes certain pieces of hardware make it difficult. And sometimes we can't play up to our full potential.
For instance a very poorly adjusted bass drum pedal can hamper our playing.

I just have to say this here. Drummers really get the short end of the stick because we are the only musicians who are forced share our instruments with each other.
Imagine having one old well used electric guitar on stage and then requiring every guitar player to use only that one guitar. How well would that work?


.
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  #9  
Old 09-29-2017, 10:45 AM
Woolwich Woolwich is offline
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

On seeing the thread my initial thought was that "in general" agood workman doesn't blame his tools.
Then on reading your specifics my opinion changed. the single most personal item of a kit (in my opinion) is the bass drum pedal. If something is wrongly adjusted, badly adjusted, broken or worn then even playing doubles on a single pedal can be a difficult task. Playing "technical" double pedal work on something badly adjusted could be a near impossibility. And let's not confuse "adjusted slightly differently" or positioned a bit more to one side, or a snare drum positioned an inch higher or for that matter someone busking their way through Mustang Sally or The Hunter. That's all do able as long as a kit will function at a basic level, however playing the intro to Painkiller on a double pedal with half an inch of slop and beaters set up differently is going to be beyond even the best of drummers. Don't beat yourself up over this.
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  #10  
Old 10-02-2017, 08:40 PM
AndeeT AndeeT is offline
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

Thanks for the new replies.

Yea that double pedal was really needing some love!

I would love to buy my own here but no cash until our house in the UK sells. For now I will have to jury-rig it, as I have a recording session in that studio next month. I have seen online a trick where you can tie a bicycle inner tube to your throne leg and the other end to the slave pedal to stop it slipping.

It has also taught me to never leave home without a drum key :-)

The play on the chain I will just have to live with for now. Luckily the piece I am recording isn't too taxing on the feet
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  #11  
Old 10-02-2017, 08:54 PM
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

Or theirs.

I went to a blues/jazz/bossa jam night the other week. A young drummer had provided the drums. They were tuned to perfection, to my ears. When s/he played them, they sang! None of the other drummers were able to get the same sound from them.
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  #12  
Old 10-02-2017, 09:19 PM
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

As a cymbalphile I will tell you that I can (and have) play on just about anything and make it work. But I absolutely hate cheap, or cracked cymbals. I play with a lot of local bands and its my one peeve. The band can be great, but if the drummer is bashing away on his B8 crash every measure, I am probably going to go find something better to do. I understand that not everybody can afford professional level cymbals, but in my eyes cymbal tone is as important as guitar tone, and I have never heard a cheap guitar amp give a tone I care for. Sometimes the tools are just as important as the craftsman.
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  #13  
Old 10-02-2017, 09:47 PM
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

A Master Samurai can perform amazingly with her Hattori Hanzo sword. Certainly, she can get something resembling "results" with a cold butter knife.

But if a person could get the same results, regardless of the tool, then one would have to question the need for the Hattori Hanzo in the first place.

There might be a reason why we don't ever see cars like the YUGO represented at the Indy 500.

It might be fair to suggest that a good workman ensures that his tools are up for the task of representing his workmanship.

My mechanic replaced the head on my car engine. Noted on the invoice was "torque to spec." If he did not have the tools to do this, then I would have no choice but to question his workmanship. "We tightened it" would not be acceptable.

Within the world of art, there could be compromises. If an artist is known for their thinly-painted lines, and they have no thin, fine-tipped brushes available where they are, and they must do with what they've got, then they could paint something else and it might be good.

If a drummer needed brushes, and all they had were marching snare sticks, they might be able to pull something off.

Blaming the tools may be acceptable only if those tools are community tools required for use, which have fallen into an unacceptable state of disrepair.

Give me a 2x4, a cinder block, a hard hat, a hammer handle, a long screw driver, and a bag of Cheetos, and I'll give you a beat to remember.
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  #14  
Old 10-02-2017, 09:48 PM
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

Quote:
Originally Posted by eclipseownzu View Post
As a cymbalphile I will tell you that I can (and have) play on just about anything and make it work. But I absolutely hate cheap, or cracked cymbals. I play with a lot of local bands and its my one peeve. The band can be great, but if the drummer is bashing away on his B8 crash every measure, I am probably going to go find something better to do. I understand that not everybody can afford professional level cymbals, but in my eyes cymbal tone is as important as guitar tone, and I have never heard a cheap guitar amp give a tone I care for. Sometimes the tools are just as important as the craftsman.
Well, maybe a bare minimum is required? I'm never impressed with those guys sitting in the street banging on buckets. I get it: you're poor but you have a rhythm you have to let soar - yet at the same time I see "I'm not committed enough to go farther than sitting in the street banging on a bucket".

Is that mean?
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Old 10-02-2017, 10:19 PM
crispycritters crispycritters is offline
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

A good workman provides his own tools. You may make sense to use a backline set of drums but not to use your own pedal/s - this just highlights one of the reasons most take their own pedal/snare/cymbals, you may be able to make do with what is available but you'll be much more comfortable and play better with your own gear.

A seasoned pro may be able to perform with a double pedal that knackered, but why even attempt it if you know you can perform better with gear that works as it should?
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Old 10-02-2017, 10:22 PM
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

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Originally Posted by Bo Eder View Post
Go with the group that knows more girls ;)
Well sure, this is probably why many of us started to play music in the first place. But there is also something enjoyable about playing well. Thomas Lang doesn't use jacked up Pearl pedals, because he has given a $$$$ about his playing, and people noticed that.

The girls on the dance floor probably won't care or notice. But they're also not the ones calling you for gigs. Play good gear, and play it well, if not for its own sake, then for the sake of getting called to play more gigs. Bring a good pedal.

Quote:
Adapt your playing to get what you can from the a available gear. I played trombone in a big band for a weekend of country gigs years ago where the supplied kit had no rack tom. Our drummer played all weekend on what was available - sounded great.
Come on, let's not pretend that missing a tom on a country gig is comparable to missing a quality pedal on a metal gig (or any gig that actually requires intricate double pedal work).
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Old 10-02-2017, 10:26 PM
brentcn brentcn is offline
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bo Eder View Post
"I'm not committed enough to go farther than sitting in the street banging on a bucket".

Is that mean?
Nope, it's pretty fair. It's a lot more difficult to make music with other people, than to play "repeat that rhythm, with a fill" by yourself.

In Detroit I saw a guy with a full kit set up on the street, jamming by himself. He wasn't good, and what he was doing, wasn't making him any better...
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  #18  
Old 10-03-2017, 02:13 PM
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Morrisman Morrisman is offline
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

A good workman never has shoddy tools. They all have proper, professional quality equipment. So the old saying is a bit redundant.
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  #19  
Old 10-03-2017, 02:46 PM
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

As others have (thankfully) already pointed out....

"A good workman never blames HIS TOOLS..."

I have no excuse to blame MY gear for my poor performance...

But, in most cases (NOT as described by the OP), other than an unannounced "walk on" situation, I also have no excuse to not be prepared with a proper snare drum, hi hat, pedal and cymbals for a backline kit if necessary....
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Old 10-03-2017, 04:18 PM
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hollywood Jim View Post
Yes I agree. A drummer should be able to play well on any drum set.

HOWEVER, sometimes certain pieces of hardware make it difficult. And sometimes we can't play up to our full potential.
For instance a very poorly adjusted bass drum pedal can hamper our playing.

I just have to say this here. Drummers really get the short end of the stick because we are the only musicians who are forced share our instruments with each other.
Imagine having one old well used electric guitar on stage and then requiring every guitar player to use only that one guitar. How well would that work?


.
Exactly. I think I can adapt fairly well, to différent set up, badly tuned gear, and so forth, pedals are another thing.
I have had to play - Live in a pub - on a poor first price kit (that would be OK) BUT with a broken bassdrum batter head and a pedal that had the beater about 3 cm from the head (a bit more than a inch). How could you have good strokes from that ? It was a bad time to me
Talking pedal, I've also been through the hihat with absolutely no grease, so it didn't open at the same speed as my left foot ! Horrible.
Those thing are hard to adapt :-D

Recently, I had to play on a kit where the snare side skin was : a coated ambassador..... so great...
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  #21  
Old 10-03-2017, 04:37 PM
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

"Within the world of art, there could be compromises"

One has to remember in the world of ART, it is left to interpretation of the public to assign a grade if you will.

ART it seems has expanded the main stay boundaries to include an American Flag being burned.

I wouldnt call that ART infact I would probably beat the the SOB who thought it would be into a pulp.. thats my take on that persons art work..

Fixing a car is a trade which requires special tools and all of the right tools to get the job done. Usually includes formal training and exams to prove knowledge retention..

Bottom line is I think your comparing apples to oranges.. with one exception..

A mechanic that can build a V8 350 engine with about 500hp and sound like demon getting his butt kicked and shoves your head into the head rest with 1/4 throttle, that is art work..
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Old 10-03-2017, 04:48 PM
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

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Originally Posted by Ohio View Post
Bottom line is I think your comparing apples to oranges..
I was just going with the heading of a WORKMAN and TOOLS. Then I made a clear distinction with reference to art.

As a drummer, musician, artist, workman, my tools are always in top order, so they never become an excuse.

The house kit becomes the wild card that steps outside of the concept of "his tools." It's a situation where you're using the tools provided by others. They might be up to standard, or maybe not.

My humblest of apologies if any of my comparisons generated any confusion.
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Old 10-03-2017, 05:34 PM
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

no worries bud.. just giving my spin on it..
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  #24  
Old 11-08-2017, 12:18 AM
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

Quote:
Originally Posted by eclipseownzu View Post
As a cymbalphile I will tell you that I can (and have) play on just about anything and make it work. But I absolutely hate cheap, or cracked cymbals. I play with a lot of local bands and its my one peeve. The band can be great, but if the drummer is bashing away on his B8 crash every measure, I am probably going to go find something better to do. I understand that not everybody can afford professional level cymbals, but in my eyes cymbal tone is as important as guitar tone, and I have never heard a cheap guitar amp give a tone I care for. Sometimes the tools are just as important as the craftsman.
I'm totally with you on this. I got my first kit in 1971, a silver sparkle kit from the sears catalog. I saved my allowance for about a year to get it, and I was super-excited to have it in place of my drum pad! Except for the cymbals. God, they were unusable pieces of crap. I would have been better off with trash can lids. And I mean that, not just being hyperbolic. Pretty much any tom or bass drum can sound decent with good heads and some slight care in tuning. Even a crappy snare, you can muffle out annoying overtones a bit with tape. But crappy cymbals, there's nothing you can do -- tape won't help, except to lower the volume a bit so you don't hear them as much.
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Old 01-19-2018, 05:26 PM
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

Quote:
Originally Posted by AndeeT View Post
Does that hold true all the time in drumming? As drummers we often have to use other peoples gear, it might be nearly new, it might be gaffa-taped together, it may be set up similar to our own preference, or completely alien feeling.

Over the years I have tried to get used to this fact and thought I was doing pretty well in terms of learning to adapt... until yesterday.

I went to the local music rehearsal space. Last month I moved from the UK to NZ so all the drum gear I own at the moment equates to a few pairs of sticks. Amazingly, the rehearsal space had a pair of Pearl double pedals.

I have been working on double pedal chops pretty much exclusively for the past six months so naturally I was happy to get to try the pedals. But my playing felt worse than six months ago and I came away feeling underwhelmed and dissapointed.

In retrospect, the pedals were pretty old and shoddy; they were single chain and the main pedal chain had a play of 1 cm either way side-to-side. The beaters were set up close to the batter head and the left was about 1 cm even closer to the head. last of all, the spurs were worn, resulting in the slave pedal jumping firward with each accented stroke. I had to stop playing about every 30 second to grab the slave pedal and drag it back to where it started.

I am trying to adhere to the Thomas Lang theory that you should be able to play with any gear; any sticks, any drums, any pedals....but, is there a time when you can give yourself some leeway and blame (or at least attribute some of the blame) to the tools?
I beg to differ with electronic drums though
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Old 01-19-2018, 05:49 PM
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

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Originally Posted by porky View Post
I beg to differ with electronic drums though
eDrums are to drums what an electric organ is to a piano.

Different instrument. Same/shared interface.
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Old 01-19-2018, 09:22 PM
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

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Originally Posted by porky View Post
I beg to differ with electronic drums though
Electronic drums can be dreadful to use as well.

I've done two shows now in support of a band whose drummer uses a Yamaha DTX kit. It was awful each time.

The rack was assembled poorly and everything was held together with hose clamps. No height adjustments possible. The pads were different sizes and one of the cymbals didn't work at all.

The worse part? The kick pedal tower wouldn't stay put either time, causing me to have to extend my leg and play the kick pedal with my toes as it slid away. I kid you not.

He thought that he had the problem licked last time by duct taping the tower to the floor but eventually the water vapor in the air got to the tape and it wouldn't stick to the tiles. I finished the set with our vocalist standing on the kick tower's base in her high heel shoes to hold it (more or less) in place. Ironically, I had brought a mat and Velcro tape with me (having learned from the first experience) but was assured that the duct tape would hold and that my mat was unneeded.

Now, I appreciate his sharing the drum kit with me but I'm never using it again. I had insisted on bringing a four piece acoustic kit (fusion sizes) but got overruled by the venue owner (so I'm told) stating that they'd be too loud for the room. I'm afraid I'll have to turn down the offer next time if the electronics are involved.

I'll say this much though; having to bear down and battle the drum kit caused me to play with intensity. I received a lot of back slaps and fist bumps afterwards so I guess it wasn't a total disaster!
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  #28  
Old 01-21-2018, 09:21 PM
beyondbetrayal beyondbetrayal is offline
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

That's why when I gear share I bring my own pedat, sticks, and snare... Less excuses.. I have seen guys say, "theres only one rack tom so I couldn't do my fills or tom grooves"... THAT is unacceptable.

If I hop on a kit with ducttape for heads or tuned so insanely tight/loose that it doesn't work, I give myself a tad of leeway yes.

I can't control everything, or the sound guy, or the stage, I always hope for about 80% of my best at every live gig.. My house is 100.. It never feels quite as good or something is moved etc... That's not an excuse, If I feel like it was an 80% show I am happy. It also takes a lot of stress off and I stop saying "it was better at band jam today"

I practice with all different sizes of sticks, swap my snares out, change between coated and clear heads, change my pedal settings, my entire setup, and fairly often. I also have a big and a small kit.. I find changing it up often makes you less comfortable with the same ol, and you can sit down anywhere.


That being said, I can heel toe the crap out of my double pedals and I couldn't do that on most other ones, so I wouldn't take a gig for my metal band if I couldn't bring my own. But my other band I'll sit in on anything.
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Old 01-21-2018, 11:20 PM
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Anon La Ply Anon La Ply is offline
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Default Re: 'A good workman never blames his tools'

I think all objects have at least one good sound in them, including the pieces of rehearsal room kits. A great instrument will be much more forgiving but ordinary instruments force musicians to work to find the one or two sweet spots. Same with cheap keyboards that sound cheesy at the top and muddy at the bottom, but are okay in the octaves either side of middle C.

I've long felt that you should be able to logically find a way of pulling a decent kind of sound from any instrument but, during a lesson, a foam-filled snare drum on the student kit defeated me. It was diabolical; it sounded like a fart when I played it.

So I asked to swap and somehow Wy managed to get a half serviceable sound from it. Amazed. There is something in the stroke of really good players that can overcome just about anything, such as Gadd's pizza box brushwork.
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