Do you change your dynamics or intensity when playing mic'd vs. unmic'd?

yammyfan

Senior Member
The reason I ask: I notice that I don't hit hard enough or with sufficient authority when playing unmic'd, especially when it comes to cymbal work. I think part of it stems from not wanting to deafen those around me.

Conversely, my dynamics sound just fine when playing a fully mic'd kit at festivals and outdoor shows. I don't consciously approach those shows differently though it's not lost on me that not having to deal with room acoustics is liberating. It's possible that the sound guys are levelling out my dynamics too. I would go as far as to say it's likely.

I'm interested to learn if anyone approaches the kit differently in those two situations and how they handle the difference. Could something as simple as switching to heavier sticks make a big enough difference? I do play with pretty light sticks - Promark 747s, to be precise.

I want to play with more snap and authority. Hoping for tips other than "try harder" though that may be the obvious solution.

Thanks!
 
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1 hit wonder

Well-known Member
Yes, I do. At least at first,but eventually fall back into acoustic mod by losing focus.
Under mic, I try to lighten play and focus on light handed dynamics.

Coming from the house of much acoustic volume, my snare is deadened with a Remo muffle ring under the batter head to ease stage volume (and whining singers). In certain songs I let loose on the snare. Only a couple. Without the muffle ring, the snare is Detective Callahan's hand gun.
 

Tosheus

Member
The reason I ask: I notice that I don't hit hard enough or with sufficient authority when playing unmic'd, especially when it comes to cymbal work. I think part of it stems from not wanting to deafen those around me.

Conversely, my dynamics sound just fine when playing a fully mic'd kit at festivals and outdoor shows. I don't consciously approach those shows differently though it's not lost on me that not having to deal with room acoustics is liberating. It's possible that the sound guys are levelling out my dynamics too - I would go as far as to say it's likely.

I'm interested to learn if anyone approaches the kit differently in those two situations and how they handle the difference. Could something as simple as switching to heavier sticks make a big enough difference? I do play with pretty light sticks - Vic Firth 747s, to be precise.

I want to play with more snap and authority. Hoping for tips other than "try harder" though that may be the obvious solution.

Thanks!
Don’t worry about those around you, you’re a drummer, you’re meant to be loud!
You could try heavier sticks.
What grip do you use when you’re on the kit? German is generally considered louder..
Do you do any pad work? Singles and doubles on a pad with various accent changes could help..
Dynamics are really important, you should really try to be in full control of your sound, mic’d or not..
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
It all depends on the room I'm playing but I tend to encounter the opposite end of the spectrum where you're booked into a venue that shouldn't have bands but you have to play very quietly with feel and dynamics so a mouse farting can be heard above you.

Try some heavier sticks first and see if that works for you.
 

TMe

Senior Member
I want to play with more snap and authority. Hoping for tips other than "try harder" though that may be the obvious solution.
These days if I want more volume I switch to bigger sticks but still play with a fairly light touch. To me, the sound doesn't have any more snap or authority, it's just louder. But other people hear it differently. My stuff is fairly loud, so I sometimes use 2B sticks. It took a while to learn how to pay with those and still keep a light, bouncing touch. Once I got it, though, I found I could let the stick do more of the work for me. I used to think 2B players were nuts until I figured out they weren't working very hard, whereas I was working like a dog, bashing away with 5B's.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Mainly when playing medium or full volume unmiked with amplified instruments-- the drums lose presence generally, and the softer notes go away altogether. So my lowest volume will be louder, and I'll play the bass drum and toms stronger especially.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Diamond Member
I generally don't, unless the sound guy, or my ears tell me otherwise

I also NEVER have the drums in my monitors if I get the choice.. Maybe a smidge of kick drum, but I feel like having drums in monitors makes me overplay
 

Rock Salad

Junior Member
I try not to, but hearing the subs blasting still throws me off some. I wind up holding back a lot when playing through sound systems
 

Drumolator

Platinum Member
I play no different, and I adjust to the volume around me. Peace and goodwill.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Diamond Member
and the biggest thing that affects my playing is being able to hear the other guys in the band, especially the vocals. I feed off of the vocal cadence, the intensity of the vox, the emotion...

in my original bands, I write my drum (and bass) parts around the vocals honestly
 

calan

Silver Member
Put me in the yes group. Especially if the engineer is heavy handed with gating and compression.
 

JimmyM

Platinum Member
I don’t really know if I do or not since I’m still pretty nervous when I play drums live.
 

yammyfan

Senior Member
Lots of thoughtful responses so far so thanks for that.

The room definitely matters and I do try to plan for that, more with cymbal selection than drum sets.

On that note, I got away from a game plan I had originally laid out and that was to use 2002s for the vast majority of gigs. Instead, I've been gigging big, dark, thin cymbals that open up fast and I think that I'm laying off them because they get loud so easily. I'm going to switch back to using the 2002s since they require more energy from me to play. That should force me to play with a little more authority.

Bigger sticks feels like a given also. I think I play better with them but I never gig with them. I feel silly saying that because it seems like something I should have gotten on top of a long time ago. That's one change I will make right away.
 

Chris Whitten

Silver Member
The reason I ask: I notice that I don't hit hard enough or with sufficient authority when playing unmic'd, especially when it comes to cymbal work. I think part of it stems from not wanting to deafen those around me.
No I don't. But as you hint at in your post it is all about context.
Obviously one plays quieter in smaller rooms, if it appropriate to do so.
If you are on a large stage or festival I play as loud as 1) normal for me, OR 2) what is appropriate for the music.
Your playing volume probably needs to change between a folk gig and a hard rock gig.
 
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