Billy Ward here!


Silver Member
Hi Sjogras - thanks for the compliment on my snare! That drum was a 6X 14 birch DW VLT shell. I've gotta say, that is how that drumset sounds because I used very few microphones in making that record. If you keep yearning for a particular sound, it will come to you so keep trying! good luck!

Hey Billy! Been watching your "Voices In My Head" video the last couple of days and must say I am blown away by your musical playing and the great insight to your process. Out The Door is sounding great with my morning cofee:)

My question is about how you get such a great sound, especially your snare. Are the edges custom to to your liking or are they similar to a standard Collectors series snare? Re-rings?

Any insight to the recording process would be great, particularly overhead mics, bass drum tuning and mic placement.


Pioneer Member
I want to point out something great about Billy - Not only is he obviously a world-class player and posseses immense talent, but he's a great guy to be around! DW put on the "Woodology" tour in 2010 and Billy was joking around with both Billy Mason and John Robinson. He doesn't have a pretentious air about him and that makes him easy to work with and valued member of any band - he's easy to get along with. This counts for quite a bit since you spend more time around your bandmates off stage than on.


Drum Mum

It was a real pleasure to see you on this site, Billy!

I hope I'm not mistaken in this, but in one of your books, you described in some detail a lesson you once took with Elvin Jones. What I took away from that story was how you marvelled at his tone. You mentioned that, even though he was playing a sort of rag-tag practice kit, he managed to make that kit sound amazing! I also recall your discussion of the importance of tone.

I'm a relative beginner-playing about four years-but for some reason, I'm really starting to think about this, and some of the other perhaps less-thought-of aspects of playing. I guess I'm just tired of playing and hearing it back as if I'm hitting a cardboard box-no offense to boxes, though!

Could you recommend any exercises or stick techniques that might start me off on helping to improve my tone? It's something I'd like to explore, but know little or nothing about how to do it. I will also say that, although not financially able to take lessons consistently, I'm considering getting with a teacher, even if only once a month. Thanks for your inspiration!


billy ward

DW Pro Drummer
HI Drum Mum (great name BTW!!) Well, the first thing IS about the gear. While Elvin's kit at the lesson was really beat up, it no doubt had been tuned properly for Elvin's tastes. In general a jazzy kit will be tuned very high in pitch. Many guys go as high as the head will go - and then try to go even higher! :)
A funky beat up drum set with questionable bearing edges and such will still more easily sound like a drum when tuned high. This is one of my pet peeves for independent, boutique snare drum makers. They tune their snare drums high - and honestly, almost any snare drum can sound like a snare drum when tuned high. Tuning in the middle to lower register will truly separate the "men from the boys"

Now then , your grip is very very important and I DO recommend having an eperienced drummer in your area check your grip so that the stick is doing what it is supposed to be doing.

After this, I think it comes down to tapping your drums - playing them, and not feeling guilty about spending ten hours with a drum key.

It goes without saying that if your drum heads are pitted, then you have NO CHANCE at groovy tone - again, unless tuned waaaay high.
Thanks - Billy

Drum Mum

Thanks for your response, Billy! I will pay more attention to tuning, as well as take into consideration drum construction.


Junior Member
Hello Mr. Ward

I am purchasing a new kit with a 20"x14" bass drum. I am going to work with the stock heads which are:

Batter - Clear UT Ambassador with muffle ring
Resonant - Coated white Gretsch head with muffle ring

...and am planning on leaving the resonant head un-ported. Do you have any recommendations on what I may want to consider in terms of tuning and dampening that would help me get a good jazz kit tone?

Thanks a bunch!


Bill ward is the reason I play drums. Symptoms of the Universe.


Senior Member
Bill ward is the reason I play drums. Symptoms of the Universe.



New member
Hey Billy! Hope you are safe and well my friend!!!

pocket player

Junior Member
Welcome Bill a Pleasure to have you on board,really enjoy your drumming. Thanks for wanting to share,nothing better than a brother or sister drummer!!