An observation on playing skill

Okay everyone I hope the following comments don't offend anyone but I've watched a lot of drummers from many different musical backgrounds in my 46 years and it seems to me that the most talented musicians I've seen are the ones who can do so much with so little. What I mean is I'm much more in awe of a drummer who makes a simple four drum set up sound as though he or she is playing with twelve drums with double bass kicks. Maybe its the genre of music that makes the difference and not necessarily a difference in ability. The most dazzle seems to come from free form jazz ensembles rather than the highly structured formats that rock embodies. Any thought?
 

birks10

Senior Member
My thoughts?.... Just that I agree with you. :>) From another drummer who has played (and istened) for the last 44 years as well. :>)

Kelly
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Four drums or twelve drums makes no difference to me as long as you don,t over play the music. It's about quality not quantity
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
You know, this issue comes up on the boards with some regularity. And as someone who's played both 9-piece and 2-piece kits for pay on gigs, it is completely 100% about the drummer and not how much or how little kit he or she is playing.

I agree that having more drums or cymbals does not make you inherently more musical, but neither does having less. That's left up to you, your creativity, and your work ethic. As for me, I get the same feedback whether I bring my full kit or a ride, snare and kick to a gig.

Getting an attitude about someone who has more drums in their kit than you do is as unreasoned an argument as saying that any band that has more than one guitarist is musically inept. It has nothing to do with quantity and everything to do with quality. I can point to many horrendous players who only use four drums, and many great players who used way more than their peers. And lest you think I'm going to defend my usual prog-rock heroes, try Louie Bellson or Ed Shaughnessy. What were they thinking, playing double bass? That's just a gimmick! The no-talent hacks!
 

birks10

Senior Member
Guess i'll post a bunch of pix showing drummers with 4 piece kits then..... Bottom line is, play what you want as long as it's musically appropriate.
 
You know, this issue comes up on the boards with some regularity. And as someone who's played both 9-piece and 2-piece kits for pay on gigs, it is completely 100% about the drummer and not how much or how little kit he or she is playing.

I agree that having more drums or cymbals does not make you inherently more musical, but neither does having less. That's left up to you, your creativity, and your work ethic. As for me, I get the same feedback whether I bring my full kit or a ride, snare and kick to a gig.

Getting an attitude about someone who has more drums in their kit than you do is as unreasoned an argument as saying that any band that has more than one guitarist is musically inept. It has nothing to do with quantity and everything to do with quality. I can point to many horrendous players who only use four drums, and many great players who used way more than their peers. And lest you think I'm going to defend my usual prog-rock heroes, try Louie Bellson or Ed Shaughnessy. What were they thinking, playing double bass? That's just a gimmick! The no-talent hacks!
You seem to be missing the point I was trying to make...Of course I'm not saying that "if you you play with fewer drums you have more talent than those who play huge kits". All I'm saying is that the more talented drummers I've seen are drummers who can make playing with fewer drums sound as though they're playing with a wall of drums surrounding them. Will you grant that THAT is not a common skill? Of course the Bellsons and the Shaughnessys of the world are magical players...I'm not denying that. I'm just saying that when you have the ability to make the listener think you're playing with twenty drums that distinguishes the truly greats from most others.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
You seem to be missing the point I was trying to make...Of course I'm not saying that "if you you play with fewer drums you have more talent than those who play huge kits". All I'm saying is that the more talented drummers I've seen are drummers who can make playing with fewer drums sound as though they're playing with a wall of drums surrounding them. Will you grant that THAT is not a common skill? Of course the Bellsons and the Shaughnessys of the world are magical players...I'm not denying that. I'm just saying that when you have the ability to make the listener think you're playing with twenty drums that distinguishes the truly greats from most others.
I can agree with that. I didn't glean that from your original post, but I grant, it is a very cool talent. One who I personally admire for this ability is Dave Grohl.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
DED, I LOVE that Sonny Greer pic! Chick Webb had some cool ones too. How could we have come so far with drum technology and yet so few kits are as beautiful as those old beasties?

For the most part this thread seems to be about jazz drummers with their standard 4-piece kits and rockers with large kits.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
DED, I LOVE that Sonny Greer pic! Chick Webb had some cool ones too. How could we have come so far with drum technology and yet so few kits are as beautiful as those old beasties?

For the most part this thread seems to be about jazz drummers with their standard 4-piece kits and rockers with large kits.
Or the jazzers with two bass drums and the rockers with only 4-piecers...
 

samjomoore

Junior Member
Okay everyone I hope the following comments don't offend anyone but I've watched a lot of drummers from many different musical backgrounds in my 46 years and it seems to me that the most talented musicians I've seen are the ones who can do so much with so little. What I mean is I'm much more in awe of a drummer who makes a simple four drum set up sound as though he or she is playing with twelve drums with double bass kicks. Maybe its the genre of music that makes the difference and not necessarily a difference in ability. The most dazzle seems to come from free form jazz ensembles rather than the highly structured formats that rock embodies. Any thought?
I agree! My drum instructor has this crappy kit that he uses for teaching. It is like a 15" kick, a 10" tom and a 12" floor tom, a set of high hats, and a crash/ride. The drums a stuffed with foam to muffle them, and the cymbals sound like cookie sheet tins. That is when I am hitting them with my sticks. When he says "lets trade seats" and plays... OMG! You wouldn't believe the music that comes out of that stuff!
 

Spreggy

Silver Member
I think it's about developing your own comprehensive vocabulary, be it on 2 pcs or 8. Change is good. I was all about the 4 last year, this year it's 5 w/ 1 up 2 down. New sounds found by the new arrangement. I'm sure I'll scrap it next year for something else again.

I too have had many eye-opening experiences watching jazz players wring a ton of sound out of little hardware. Especially the guys and gals who look like their hands are hardly moving. Hate those players.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
With four limbs, you can only hit four drums or cymbals at a time so having 12 drums only means that 8 of them are waiting for their turn. It's not like you are hitting all 12 at once. As I said previously, it's about quality not quantity.
 

Spreggy

Silver Member
With four limbs, you can only hit four drums or cymbals at a time so having 12 drums only means that 8 of them are waiting for their turn. It's not like you are hitting all 12 at once. As I said previously, it's about quality not quantity.
Well sure, but the sound you get from let's say an unaccented/even flam on the floor tom is nowhere near as rich as the same hit on two floor toms. Each additional cymbal and tom brings a new voice, a new texture. You can go on like this until your set, like Terry Bozzio;s, has its own zip code, but that's not the point. My point is it's the singer, not the song. I would turn around what you're saying, in that it's quality, regardless of quantity.
 

Jim Mattingly

Senior Member
Very good feedback/opinions on this thread and a question that is often asked and interpreted differently, and the same by most of us, if that makes any sense, Thank god we all do not think alike, how boring would that be. I am of both opinions actually, I love watching/listening to a drummer who has a monster kit and really knows how to use his entire kit during a live show. But I also like and can appreciate a drummer who dazzles me just as much with a 4 piece or a two piece kit. I myself practice with a semi monster kit (in my eyes), but when showtime comes and you know the venue or set lists change I will only bring to that particular gig what I know for sure ia needed. It is most definitely a quality thing versus anything and everything else for me. I still remember seeing a Spyro Gyra show, and Ludwig (sorry I cannot remember his last name) was the drummer then. He had a basic set up but sounded like he had 6 hands and 4 feet, but even more importantly he had dynamics on every song played, a show I will never forget. And I actually walked up on stage after the show was over and got one of his rim shot tore up sticks (VF-AC 5A) and had the entire band sign it for me.
 
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