Acoustic kit advice for anti acoustic band mates

Neil

Senior Member
Hi Guys,

This is a semi-moan/plee for advice thread

My bandmates are putting the screws on me to use an electric kit for all gigs after using one for a small gig we did last week.

They're angle, which I semi agree with, is that the volume level is far more controlled and we were not battiling against feed back. However I feel like I'm being slightly victimised here, I'm not one who occasionally plays out, or who whacks the volume up for a show stopping solo, there's an inherent case of people competing, volume wise with each other, I seem to getting the blame.

I tried explaining that my cheap electric kit does not give any feedback to my inputs. Drumming is a much of a feel thing as it is timing and I require the input my sticks are giving me to better play. How I can make the hi hat 'chick'/slosh' when I'm hitting a rubber pad? My pads are one zone only, how I can I play the bell on a rubber pad etc etc.. This weeks practice I made a point of playing as quietly as realistically possible while maintaining a good back beat only to receive comments 'we're way to loud...again' Which I feel was not a justified comment. We're play rock music, I can't play with brushes and still cut through the mix.

I slightly resent having invested in an expensive acoustic drum kit that I love and am now being co-erced into using an electric kit...how about everyone sell their marshall stacks and use 10watt practice amps! I'll play the congas.

Has anyone been in this scenario before, how did you deal with it? Coupled with my recent below par drumming, I'm feeling a little de-jected at the moment.
 

konaboy

Pioneer Member
Well tell them to use acoustic guitars then and ditch the electrics.

Sorry but for them to tell you what you have to use is wrong especially when they have no clue what cost it will be and as a drummer how it feels to play them. If feedback from monitors is an issue tell them to get in ear monitors! I'll be quite honest if it were me and they kept pushing it I'd tell them I don't tell you guys what kind of amps to use or guitars to play, not your place to tell me what I should play. If it kept up I'd probably find a different band.

With that being said there is a compromise which is playing with more dynamics on your end to help cut down on volume
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Well, haha, you can imagine the reaction here. I'll kick off. Get a new kit, try GET A NEW BAND!!!!! Bloody guitarists, you're in a rock band, FFS! E kits sound like crap in a rock band. Even the top end stuff has nowhere near the presence of a real kit, & if they don't get that, they're crap musos anyhow, so bail, or kill them slowly. Damn those bloody guitarists. It's they who are too loud, aarrgghhhh!!!

Discipline is all that's required to get a good band balance. How the hell do they get to blame the one instrument on stage that doesn't have a volume control? And what's this about feedback issues? What feedback? From where?

An E kit in a rock band is like 2B sticks & a 26" china is to jazz. Tell them to ^%$&^$%%
 

drums_n_surf

Senior Member
The truth is that your band won't be taken as seriously in a gig if you're playing on an electronic kit. Watch a real drummer play on real drums is part of the show that many people will pay attention too...not just the drummers in the audience, and they need to realise that.

Most importantly, like you mentioned, you can only get one sound from each pad. It is literally like your using you drum sticks to press a button. You're hi-hat has nearly an infinite number of sounds, and here you are settling for just a close and open (and maybe a few in the middle if you have a high-end ekit). If they can't understand this, tell them that they should play one of these, and see how they like it:

 

Witterings

Silver Member
I played and gigged with an e-kit for about 3 / 4 years before getting an acoustic and put it through the PA which gave it a great sound !!
I much prefer my acoustic now but if I went to play a small venue I'd seriously think about the e--kit simply because of the volume of the acoustic in comparison.
Not sure which kit e-kit you have but I can play my DT Xpress 2 as well (if not better because I'm still more used to it) and have 2 / 3 zone cymbals for crash, ride and bell and then got an extra cymbal, the crash part of it I've set as a china and the ride bit as a cowbell so you can get all the different sounds.

Your "below par drumming at the moment" may be if you're trying to play quietly to keep them happy, personally I find it's the trade off and I hate having to "turn it down" at rehearsals as I know I just don't play the same and you're probably feeling self conscious, deal with the volume issue and you'll probably find your playing comes back as you relax.

Explain to the lead singer that the big high note he has to get, instead of putting everything into it and belting it out instead he now has to sing the same note with the same feeling and effect at 1/4 of the volume he normally sings it at, in fact ask he / she to actually do it in front of everyone at a practice and they may start to understand where you're coming from.
If you are playing a lot of small venues though a decent e-kit may be worth considering, I've even had a sound engineer come up to me and say I can't believe the sound you get out of that BUT if you put and e-kit next to an acoustic at the same gig, played one and then played the other then you WILL notice what a difference there is.
 

Travis22

Senior Member
I wouldn't get rid of my acoustic kit for one gig, let alone every day practice. That's cool you have one and were willing to play it for one show, however, for them expect you to go that route from now on in a rock band is dumb. I'd tell them as soon as they go to keyboards/keytars or turn tables you will gladly play the e-kit, but till then hell no! I'm guessing this wasn't even an issue before this particular gig, so why is it now?
 

ricc333

Senior Member
The first question for me is, "Who's paying who?" If there's a bandleader, then that person's calling the shots. It's pretty debatable whether that person should go so far as to pick your gear out for you, but if that person is paying everybody else, then that's ultimately your call.

If it's just a band splitting the pay up equally then I'm really leaning hard towards Neil's cause. When I've run sound, I always get the drummer's level first, mics or no mics. Like a few people here said, drums don't have volume knobs. If anyone in the band isn't playing comfortably, whoever's running sound isn't doing their job. Once the drummer's level is set, then I'll set levels for the rest of the band. Simple as that. Very few complaints doing it that way.

It also sounds like Neil has bent over backwards to accommodate the rest of the band's concerns. It seems to me more like the whole band should work on their levels as a unit. Levels are a relative thing; each instrument relative to the other.

I also totally agree that they shouldn't try to pick Neil's gear out, because they probably wouldn't like him picking out theirs.

At the end of the day, the person/people writing the check make the call, but past that it sounds like Neil is living in Lack-of-Tact-land. My sympathies bro.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
First off, I'll pick on them...your band isn't being reasonable. You can equate playing on an electronic kit to playing guitar on a rock band/guitar hero guitar controller...how much would they enjoy THAT? No feeling of the strings under their fingers, no picking individual strings...how would they control dynamics, bend, or get different sounds out of it? It's kinda the same thing, I think, only that particular option isn't commercially available for them...

What, their Marshall stacks aren't loud enough to compete with your acoustic drum set? That doesn't seem right. Even my old "el cheapo" Marshall setup when I started out could blow a drumset out of the sonic water! Cheap P.O.S. as it and my cab were, they could definitely beat a drumset in a decibel competition. If it's a battle of "everything louder than everything else", they SHOULD win, hands down. I don't know what they're complaining about. If it's overall volume level they're complaining about, then they need to get freaking ear plugs...they SHOULD have them already, unless they want to damage their hearing at rehearsals/gigs, which is just a stupid move. Seriously.

Now, I'll pick on YOU. Forget bundle rods and brushes--you should be able to play quiet with sticks and still rock. It's all about the feel, the groove, and you need to be able to pull that off at all dynamic levels, otherwise you're a one-trick pony. You SHOULD be able to play a solid groove with good sound and a good feel at a quieter volume than you produce with brushes. I assume you understand this because you complain about your electronic drums only having one zone...you want to have more sounds at your disposal. Perhaps playing quietly and getting a good sound will involve you re-tuning your drums, but that's the nature of the game. Also, people complain about not being able to play "as fast" or "as intense" at a quieter level. That's completely bogus. Learn your instrument.

Now...the compromise. I do agree with the statement that people won't take you seriously if you have an electronic kit. If you're playing rock music, drum shells should be present--it's part of the image, along with the stacks, the clothes, etc... Your bandmates are being unreasonable. It's rock music: it beckons that the drums be slammed to produce a certain sound, but you can still get that sound by playing not quite so loud. If you play too loud, it actually makes the drums sound like crap, 'cause of the choking effect of over-playing the heads. If you want them to sound big, full, and loud, then you need to play below this level. So...your volume is probably going to be less than YOU want. Also, THEIR volume probably needs to come up to match the level of the kit. "Everything louder than everything else" shouldn't be a problem if you take the time to get a proper mix of yourselves. Everyone needs to adjust their volumes and EQs so that they are heard AND they balance with everyone else. It's a team effort, and this is just. how. it's. done.

If they aren't cool with that, and they tell you to play quieter, hands-down, then they are being stubborn and that will bleed over into other parts of your relationship with them, and ultimately will affect your playing prowess as you play with people you can't get along with. In that case, dump them. Join a group of musicians that play as a TEAM and work towards a common goal...

Good luck
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Great post Caddy, very considered, balanced, & full of wizdom.

KIS says, KILL THEM, KILL THEM ALL!!!!
 

toddy

Platinum Member
First off, I'll pick on them...your band isn't being reasonable. You can equate playing on an electronic kit to playing guitar on a rock band/guitar hero guitar controller...how much would they enjoy THAT? No feeling of the strings under their fingers, no picking individual strings...how would they control dynamics, bend, or get different sounds out of it? It's kinda the same thing, I think, only that particular option isn't commercially available for them...
No offence, the rest of your post is totally right, and Neil should follow your advice, but I can't agree on this part.
I can only guess from the way your worded your post that you haven't taken the time to set up an e-kit properly. Maybe you have tried them before and didn't like what you heard, fair enough. But unless you were playing through software (all the roland/yamaha modules are trashy in comparison) then I don't think it's really a fair statement to make.

Sure there are still some limitations (such as rim sounds on toms) but electronic drum software sounds better than ever. I'm waiting to hear back from the guy I buy my e-drums from because I really want dual two zone toms. This is just because I'd like to have rim sounds on my toms.

I may be biased since I use an electronic setup at home and already use acoustic triggers live (metal etc), but if I ever (sorry, when) I get to a level where I can play on a quality sound system all the time then I will happily switch over to using electronic drums in a live setting too. I already use some of my pads live since I like to integrate electronic sounds into my drum arrangements. There are of course already many popular bands who use triggers on their acoustic drums.

Alas, some people seem to have this idea that electronic drums have to look terrible, as if it is some kind of design limitation. That simply isn't the case;



Btw the guy who makes these shells can also hook you up with some sweet acoustic drums if you like.
Don't worry, I'll go back my cave now.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Neil, I get the impression (and I may be totally off) that you might be playing too loud in relation to the guitarists. Do you agree? If so then it's just a matter of learning to blend, volumewise. Listen. You should be able to hear everyone else on stage when you are playing. If you can't...you are playing too loud and not listening enough. Use lighter sticks, choke up on them, do whatever you have to, just DON'T USE AN E-KIT IN A ROCK BAND!
Drums should hardly ever be the loudest thing on stage. You really need to be able to burn at any volume.

If you feel you already blend volume wise...then my advice is still...DON'T USE AN E-KIT IN A ROCK BAND!
 

droveto

Senior Member
Are you close enough with anyone in the band to discuss what's going on with the sound with the band? It sounds like the bottom line is that nobody in the group is satisfied with how you guys are sounding. You commented on your own playing, you commented on the guitars volume, etc... How about the bassist, what is his volume like? Does the audience hear the vocals clearly? Is there someone in the audience you can ask for advice on the overall mix and sound?
Can you tell your band that you agree that things could sound better but that you're not necessarily sure that electronic drums are the answer? Is it possible that you lose accuracy at lower volumes and that you're playing smaller rooms that require you to have a lower volume? Is this a hard requirement to meet?
Just trying to get the whole picture here and it sounds as though your concerns are currently driven more by emotion than anything so you should take a step back and gather as many facts, while being honest with yourself, as you can and then come up with a solution that everyone in the band can hopefully agree with.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
You should record the band at a show and sit around the next day and critique it. Recordings don't lie. Your guitarist's impressions may well be way off. Or maybe you are playing too loud. Either way, a recording is unbiased, and should be considered the actual truth as to how your band sounds. You don't want to change anything based on someones opinion unless the recording supports that persons opinion.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Caddy nailed it.

You should be able to play quietly if need be (granted, it's not something I do wonderfully well, but I've pull it off when I had to). Brushes, hotrods and such as also a great way to play quietly while still being able to rock out.

I've been using edrums as practice and for recording since the mid-90's. But while I find them useful, I can't ever see myself using them live.

But I get in some situations, eDrums would be a desirable option, such as long term booking a place with just bad acoustics (for example, a hotel lobby with marble floors and walls but you're still expected to play rock standard).

One thing to consider if you do end up in that direction is a hybrid kit. Just because you go electronic doesn't mean the kit has to be 100% electronic. You can still have acoustic cymbals with e-pads for the bass snare and toms, for example.
 

Homeularis

Gold Member
Sounds too me like your playing with a bunch of crybabies.
Find a new band who dont weep at the sound of a drum or cymbal. I can tell from what you've said that you are a reasonable guy that doesnt just bang away for the sake of noise.
 
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caddywumpus

Platinum Member
No offence, the rest of your post is totally right, and Neil should follow your advice, but I can't agree on this part.
I can only guess from the way your worded your post that you haven't taken the time to set up an e-kit properly. Maybe you have tried them before and didn't like what you heard, fair enough. But unless you were playing through software (all the roland/yamaha modules are trashy in comparison) then I don't think it's really a fair statement to make.

Sure there are still some limitations (such as rim sounds on toms) but electronic drum software sounds better than ever. I'm waiting to hear back from the guy I buy my e-drums from because I really want dual two zone toms. This is just because I'd like to have rim sounds on my toms.

I may be biased since I use an electronic setup at home and already use acoustic triggers live (metal etc), but if I ever (sorry, when) I get to a level where I can play on a quality sound system all the time then I will happily switch over to using electronic drums in a live setting too. I already use some of my pads live since I like to integrate electronic sounds into my drum arrangements. There are of course already many popular bands who use triggers on their acoustic drums.

Alas, some people seem to have this idea that electronic drums have to look terrible, as if it is some kind of design limitation. That simply isn't the case;



Btw the guy who makes these shells can also hook you up with some sweet acoustic drums if you like.
Don't worry, I'll go back my cave now.
I'm aware that there are several brands of kits out there (Pearl's new hybrid e-kit, and of course Boom Theory drums, to name a couple...) that have shells but are electronic instruments. And, I'll also mention that the kit in that pic looks nice. However, I was speaking to the kind of kit it sounds like he has. I was picturing one of those "cheap electric kits", as he described it. You know, the ones with the rubber pads that would barely pass for practice pads that only give you one sound each, and when you hit the tom it jiggles the sketchy frame so much that your ride cymbal triggers every third hit or so...Yeah, one of those! I've had GREAT gigs where I gotten to play on Roland V-Drums, Hand Sonics, and the like. I think electronic drums can be great, but not the ones that he's talking about--otherwise, I'm assuming he would have held them in a higher regard.

I'm with ya on the electronic drums being legit, but they don't seem to work in this situation--if only for the reason that he's not happy about playing them in this context. As much as I've enjoyed the novelty of playing on them at certain gigs, I also think they're not really for me, but to each their own...

Peace!
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
Neil - what kind of band are you in and why are you doing it? Seems to me like that's the critical question here.

Are you in a lite pop/classic cover rock band doing weddings, bar mitzvahs, and funerals, and are you doing it for the paycheck and whatever it takes to be "professional?" If that's the case, then volume control and perhaps even electronics may be appropriate. Being the team player in that circumstance is what it's all about.

But if you're in a rock band playing out your original material because it scratches your artistic itch and you feel like your enjoyment is at stake, then I'd definitely find another band.

EDIT: it could be a combination of these two basic motivators and you'll need to decide where to draw the line.
 
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