Started playing out again. Advice needed.

WalterKohn

Senior Member
#1
So the past 2 weeks I have been going to an old bandmates open mic. It has been great to actually play with people and not my headphones!

That being said, the host drummer who I know from my old bandmates, old band made a remark about me not being a hard hitter.


So what is to hard? What is too soft?

I mean I have been playing with 7A's recently. Before that where either 5A's or Buddy Rich's sig stick. I like the 7A's a lot as I have been working on dynamics with ghost notes and hi hat work.

I feel like after that remark I should start using heavier sticks when playing out? I am just so used to my garage and not anywhere else.

Any thoughts or recommendations? I mean how do you know if you are too loud or not loud enough in a live setting? What sticks do people play live with?
 
#2
Sticks are soooo personal and it depends on context.

7As are light and what most I guess would consider light jazz sticks. You'd have to go pretty high and hard to get a decent backbeat with those in a typical modern rock context. I did try at a jam once cause the 7As where the only whole ones of the pile of sticks that was there. Didn't work too well unless doing the overhead Moeller thing. lol

The average drummer probably uses something 5A-ish .

The average rock drummer probably uses something 5B-ish.

It's just as much about technique preference as stick weights, though.
 

WalterKohn

Senior Member
#3
Sticks are soooo personal and it depends on context.

7As are light and what most I guess would consider light jazz sticks. You'd have to go pretty high and hard to get a decent backbeat with those in a typical modern rock context. I did try at a jam once cause the 7As where the only whole ones of the pile of sticks that was there. Didn't work too well unless doing the overhead Moeller thing. lol

The average drummer probably uses something 5A-ish .

The average rock drummer probably uses something 5B-ish.

It's just as much about technique preference as stick weights, though.
Interesting, seems like my 7A's probably were not projecting like I thought they were. I will definitely try 5A's out. Thanks for some context.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
#4
I use Vic Firth 7A's for all my 50's Rock n Roll gigs. They're slightly heavier and stiffer than some other 7A's, so they give a solid backbeat and slap when I need it, but they're short enough for really fast shuffles (Like Rock around the clock.)

But for the cover band, 5A's give me a deeper, meatier sound on the snare and toms with slightly less speed and effort. Though anything bigger than 5A I find too heavy and my timng goes off.

You might want to try 5A's for that tone, or try the VF 7A's. I find the nylon 7A's feel a fraction weightier than the wood tips by the way - I don't know why.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
#5
When people say you hit too light, it's very possible that what they really meant was your backbeat was not prominent enough. Bigger sticks won't change the fact that the snare has to be played louder than the rest of the kit. I know I've seen players at open mic jams that didn't quite get the notion that the snare needs to be head and shoulders above the rest of the kit (volume-wise)

I'm not implying that this is what's happening to you, I'm just putting that out there as a real possibility. I've seen it many times. People don't know how to speak drum basically, and when they say you hit too light, it's very possible that what they mean is your snare isn't popping enough. They don't put that fine point on it. I would definitely use a bigger stick though. A bigger stick just pulls a fuller, more pleasing tone out of the drums IMO. I'm not a fan of the 7A stick tone, it's kind of wimpy to my ear. But a 7A can sound fine if the volume relationships between the different components of the kit are fully understood. I'm talking a strong kick and snare, and a less strong ride or hi hat dynamic.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
#6
I would assume playing at home with headphones is going to be a smaller space than the gigging venue. The volume you were used to playing may not be enough in the larger venue.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
#7
There are two possibilities. Like larryace said it’s possible that your backbeat on the snare drum is not loud enough. The other possibility is that your critic thinks that the backbeat should be a constant rim shot.

I don’t use rim shots for the backbeat. I stopped playing drums in 1970. I returned to playing drums in 2013. Sometime during those years playing rim shots on every backbeat became popular. When I started playing again in 2013 a couple of people, a bass player and a drummer, suggested that I play a rim shot on every back beat. Several other musicians said my backbeat was loud enough. I have since discovered that if you have a good loud snare drum and a strong backbeat, you don’t need to hit rim shots on the backbeat. The only exception is when you are playing with a loud band, un-miked and outdoors. Then a constant rim shot is useful.


.
 

WalterKohn

Senior Member
#8
When people say you hit too light, it's very possible that what they really meant was your backbeat was not prominent enough. Bigger sticks won't change the fact that the snare has to be played louder than the rest of the kit. I know I've seen players at open mic jams that didn't quite get the notion that the snare needs to be head and shoulders above the rest of the kit (volume-wise)

I'm not implying that this is what's happening to you, I'm just putting that out there as a real possibility. I've seen it many times. People don't know how to speak drum basically, and when they say you hit too light, it's very possible that what they mean is your snare isn't popping enough. They don't put that fine point on it. I would definitely use a bigger stick though. A bigger stick just pulls a fuller, more pleasing tone out of the drums IMO. I'm not a fan of the 7A stick tone, it's kind of wimpy to my ear. But a 7A can sound fine if the volume relationships between the different components of the kit are fully understood. I'm talking a strong kick and snare, and a less strong ride or hi hat dynamic.
Thanks for the advice Larry. You raise some good points. I am honestly not sure what he meant by it. I will 100% try the 5A's out next time. I will also focus on my kick and snare. I really don't get much feedback from my old bandmate other than "that sounded good man."
 

WalterKohn

Senior Member
#9
I would assume playing at home with headphones is going to be a smaller space than the gigging venue. The volume you were used to playing may not be enough in the larger venue.
Yea this is accurate. I also have a wife and 1 year old. The garage is next to the living room as well. Looks like Ill be practicing with 5A's and turning the TV up to level 30...
 
#10
There are two possibilities. Like larryace said it’s possible that your backbeat on the snare drum is not loud enough. The other possibility is that your critic thinks that the backbeat should be a constant rim shot.

I don’t use rim shots for the backbeat. I stopped playing drums in 1970. I returned to playing drums in 2013. Sometime during those years playing rim shots on every backbeat became popular. When I started playing again in 2013 a couple of people, a bass player and a drummer, suggested that I play a rim shot on every back beat. Several other musicians said my backbeat was loud enough. I have since discovered that if you have a good loud snare drum and a strong backbeat, you don’t need to hit rim shots on the backbeat. The only exception is when you are playing with a loud band, un-miked and outdoors. Then a constant rim shot is useful.

.
The drummer who made the comment uses rim shots literally all the time. He also sings so there is mic back by the kit when he plays it which will put him even louder in the mix/PA's.

I was also playing my Black Beauty which I know is loud enough. I will definitely start to analyze my backbeat. Thanks!
 

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
#11
It's a pretty redundant question without context. Does he slam away on the kit?

Musicians I play with compliment me on not being too loud.
 
#12
there is no way to know if you are too soft or too hard, you need to hear it in context with the other musicians. I use what would be considered pretty light sticks, and it's not an issue for me. Next time, get someone to record part of you playing with everyone else on a cell phone and listen back later. If you are buried by the other musicians you need to play a bit harder. If you sound fine with everyone else, your drummer friend could be one of those drummers with no dynamics who plays everything way too loud, and everyone else secretly dislikes him. lol.
 
#13
there is no way to know if you are too soft or too hard, you need to hear it in context with the other musicians. I use what would be considered pretty light sticks, and it's not an issue for me. Next time, get someone to record part of you playing with everyone else on a cell phone and listen back later. If you are buried by the other musicians you need to play a bit harder. If you sound fine with everyone else, your drummer friend could be one of those drummers with no dynamics who plays everything way too loud, and everyone else secretly dislikes him. lol.
That's a good idea. Thanks whiteknight!
 
#14
It's a pretty redundant question without context. Does he slam away on the kit?

Musicians I play with compliment me on not being too loud.
He is a hard hitter with a mic for vocals so you hear his kit. I feel his kit is to loud in the context of most of the songs but what do I know lol....

He has been playing for like 30-40 years he said. He definitely has some chops and great fills that sometimes to me seem out of place but again what do I know lol..

I just always use the less is more rule when playing at open mics with my old bandmate. I like to sit in the pocket and groove. I have only been playing about 4-5 years.
 

RickP

Gold Member
#15
You play to the dynamics of the band . Many drummers play too loud and are completely unaware of the fact. Stick choice in regards to volume level is not as important as technique. I use a 7a style stick with a 21 piece Big band that gets very loud and I have no problems keeping up volume wise.

Be aware of where and how you play on the various drums in the kit. Take note of how your snare reacts when playing ri shots, in the Center of the head, offcenter and ghost notes. Practice your cymbal playing - hihats using both th shoulder and tip of the stick,mplaying half open and closed. Ride cymbal - same thing- practice on different parts of the ride (bell, bow , edge, crashing) and get to know where the sweet spots are .

Do you muffle your drums ? Do not over muffle, make sure your heads have some resonance , the assists with volume.many new drummer's muffle the heck out of their drums to try and sound like they hear on records.

Fluidity and technique can allow you to get more volume with less effort regardless of the sticks you are using and this comes wth practice with other musicians.

Finally - if your bandmates are not complaining of your volume then you should be fine.
 
#16
The back beat thing is common. Even if we know it sometimes goes out the window at seminars playing in front of our heroes or like first time playing/gigging in a long time because of confidence.
 

calan

Silver Member
#17
Without context, that comment seems innocuous. Commenting that you aren't a hard hitter isn't a slight, I take it to simply mean that you aren't beating the crap out of things, or that they're simply noting you aren't as loud as the other guy.

That's not a bad thing or a good thing without context. It should never really be a problem, because they have volume knobs, unless you're causing the feel to suffer.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
#18
It's a pretty redundant question without context. Does he slam away on the kit?

Musicians I play with compliment me on not being too loud.
I've heard your playing Dre, you have good inner kit dynamics, strong kick, popping snare, nothing overbearing on the bronze, and your overall volume is where it should be, meaning not the loudest thing on stage and at about the volume of the bass player. That's a lot of volume relationships going on simultaneously, that all have to be in balance to achieve the effect.

Walter, I don't trust anyone's perception but my own when it comes to what I want to hear from the drums, so if you really want to move ahead fast, record yourself with a basic audio capture device so YOU are the one who is perceiving it. At the jams. You will hear straight away what needs what. Especially the volume. Volume management I would say is the #1 biggest problem with many players and whole bands, not talking just drummers either. The recorder made me aware of my hideous volume issues, and I corrected them within a few gigs, really fast. You just don't know how you are coming off out front with your volume blend, your feel, your choices....The drums need physical distance for the whole net effect to resolve, you definitely want a recorder in the audience. Embrace the horror and it will go away lol.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
#19
I've noticed that the guys who insist on every backbeat being a rim shot are almost always also the kind of guys who think that anyone who does not always rim shot is just wrong.

Same goes for the guys who go around telling anyone who listens that you "gotta hit them drums really hard, man!"

They are both insecure on the subject and at the same time, sure they are 100% right in their assessment.

Almost certainly, you did nothing wrong, and probably sounded better, more balanced than he did. I'd chalk this up to his idiocy and insecurity. If you get the same comment from others, then set up a recording device and listen back yourself!
 
#20
I've noticed that the guys who insist on every backbeat being a rim shot are almost always also the kind of guys who think that anyone who does not always rim shot is just wrong.

Same goes for the guys who go around telling anyone who listens that you "gotta hit them drums really hard, man!"

They are both insecure on the subject and at the same time, sure they are 100% right in their assessment.

Almost certainly, you did nothing wrong, and probably sounded better, more balanced than he did. I'd chalk this up to his idiocy and insecurity. If you get the same comment from others, then set up a recording device and listen back yourself!
Yeah I mean no one else said anything remotely negative. My old bandmate asked me if I would fill in when there host drummer has other gigs. Well see what happens.
 
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