For those who play at church or not.

davidbehrens3.14

Senior Member
It makes some reasonable points, but everything varies based on where you're playing. My church is quite small, and our worship band's drummer plays electronic drums. I play acoustic latin and auxiliary percussion. Our sound is usually pretty easy to configure.
 

yesdog

Silver Member
It makes some reasonable points, but everything varies based on where you're playing. My church is quite small, and our worship band's drummer plays electronic drums. I play acoustic latin and auxiliary percussion. Our sound is usually pretty easy to configure.
This peson is saying that even places that seat 4,000 the drums are overbearing.
In a small setting, I totally agree with using electric drums. It's cleaner looking, and does not take up a lot of space. The church I play at seats 850, yes we have that ugly shield, but if you use 7a's and minimal mics the drum shield is unessary. The other drummers I've seen play there and the other campusus, just pound the day lights out of the drums, how can you break a ride cymbal. Plus dynamics and playing for the song goes out the window. What I found insulting is the countless years of learning how to play drums, is to have someone say get over it acoustic drums don't work. I could care less about the authors degrees he carries. He has never run sound in the real world it seems. It takes great players to have great sound as well.
 

yesdog

Silver Member
I read that article and thankfully our wonderful forum provides a friendly constructive place to rant/vent.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
The main thing that strikes me in this article....it seems to me that 99% of the drummers this guy mixed played too loud for the room.

Playing to the room is a large part of my job description because I am never miced.

Drummers, church or otherwise, have to adjust their touch to the room.

What is the average age of a church drummer?

I have no clue, but I'm going to guess that it's under 20 YO.

At that age, it is the rare drummer who has the facility to stifle their volume while still retaining intensity. But it's totally do-able.

In a world where your drummers blow everyone out, then yea, electronic drums unfortunately can solve the problem. The real issue is getting people to blend themselves to their surroundings.

A musician who is dynamically capable and responsible can play in the most echo-ey of rooms and know how to adjust their touch so they don't create problems for the sound person.

Most church drummers...I'm guessing....are still in the "I have to impress everyone" stage of playing. So unfortunately, in this guy's world, E drums are his saving grace.

It's more a testament on how the majority of drummers he runs into don't understand how to control their instrument, and the solution that he found for himself. I think it's aimed more at sound people.
 

double_G

Silver Member
makes some good points. after reading the article, my gut said he is dealing w/ immature / non-musically responsible players.

BUT misses the mark on e-drums i think. deep down, i don't want to play them even if it is a top-of-the-line Roland kit. would rather keep my touch intact w/ an acoustic kit. but i get it...and will play e-kits w/ no complaining if that is easier, cost effective & pre-mixed. i've also done acoustic gig in a booth, no problem. also more fun.

i have done church gigs for the last 10 years, almost 80% acoustic & it has done amazing things for my touch. basically, i feel as if i am backing a singer songwriter w/ musically sensitive support. all they need is a solid pad / groove to get the WORD out there. i try to think like Gadd. his one quote was something like this: "i know it is a great take when i don't really "hear" the drums".
 

yesdog

Silver Member
Larry & Double G, you both are dead about drums. I played a gig a couple Wknds ago, this club is like most are an acoustic disaster. I played to the room, and I love using Steve Gadds vic firth sticks for boomy loud rooms. The sound guy said we averaged about 90 to 95db. My formula for playing to the room is this. Big boomy rooms or loud rooms, smaller light sticks, use cymbals sparingly and less fills than normal, when a drum fill is needed simple and direct. To many cymbal hits or playing a fill that is normally busy sounding can muddy up the mix. Just keep time focus on a light touch. I've also invested in an in ear monitor. For this small club I got a monitor mix from the board, there was no need to mic the drums except the kick. So I used an over head and ran it to my mixer, put a little verb on my drums and blended with the monitor feed. All I can say is when you can hear your self and the band with that much clarity, I can play so relaxed and lightly.
 

BillRayDrums

Gold Member
One thing you gotta remember about churches, Christian ones anyway... is that for centuries they viewed drums as the devil's instrument. So anyone who opines in a literary fashion on said devil's instrument may bring a bit of dogma to the table.

That being said, 90% of drummers do not know how to play for the room. There's a congruence that has got to exist not just within the band's dynamic range but also the room's capabilities and most drummers are still in the "I hit things" mode. At some point you become empathetic to the sonic space and begin to fill that accordingly.


The hardest part of my job when I play a church is convincing the sound engineer that I actually am capable of delivering the drum performance in a way that is non-offensive to the listener, and in many churches you've got the little old lady sitting up front who is gonna complain that it's too loud. And she's NOT gonna move back a few rows, so don't even ask! Play for her dynamic tolerance and you'll be fine.
 

Chollyred

Senior Member
Our church has a large sanctuary that seats over a thousand. However, the acoustics in the room were designed where a normal speaking voice could be heard at the back of the room. The other night at rehearsal, the director told me I was playing tambourine too loud! I think an acoustic drummer would have to be using Q-tips for sticks.

We used to use acoustic drums in a booth, but finally switched to full e-drums for both traditional and contemporary services so the sound booth could better eq the volumes.

The contemporary team recently auditioned a new drummer that played an acoustic kit. He was blowing us out the back of the sanctuary, and he was not THAT hard a hitter.

The e-kit is an older Roland TD-20 that I really dislike. I only fill in when I have to; the rest of the time I play timpani, congas, and other assorted percussion.
 

Red Menace

Platinum Member
I play at a small service for a fairly large church every Sunday. I have gotten way with playing my full acoustic kit with maple sticks and thinner cymbals. Recently though, they moved us into a smaller chapel, which adds a much more intimate service but leaves me having to play even quieter. I had to bust out my rods because even my trusty maple 5As were too much.

Everyone did say that the mix was good but I really don't like using rods. Feel like it kills my tone. After service the pastor mentioned that they do have a plexi shield if I wanted to use it. I told him "No! No! I'll be good, please don't put me in the fishbowl! I'll be quiet!" He laughed and said it was up to me. Nice to know that they trust me to find what works best for my setup.

Bill, any advice on this matter? I'm going to the store this weekend to try out a pair of thinner maple sticks. If I must use rods then maybe some Tala wands or something. I used to have a pair before I could play quietly.

Edit: Cholly, when playing in the larger chapel with similar acoustic properties to yours I was also told that my tambourine was too loud. This came from the sound guy too. Keep in mind those things are made to project and the higher range of their tone can project quite a bit across a cavernous room like a church.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
You always hear the expression, hard hitter.

There is a skill which is much more important, if you want to get called back.

It's called hitting soft.

I'm fortunate in that I get a LOT of practice playing soft at gigs. I can play my stuff and still have a normal volume conversation if necessary while playing.

You could put me in the most echo-ey of rooms with an acoustic kit and I can make it so it does what it's supposed to, without offending anybody. Nothing to it.

It's called hitting soft. And with practice, sounds just as good as "hitting hard". Better in echo-ey rooms actually.

A really valuable skill that is so appreciated by EVERYONE. Fellow musicians, bartenders, and the audience alike. My volume control gets noticed by civilians. I know because they tell me on a regular basis that every other band who plays there is just too damn loud, and that they really like "the sound" our band has.

It's all simple volume control. It's a myth that you have to hit hard to have intensity. Dynamic control is the real skill here. And it's not that friggin hard, if you try it. Yes it's an adjustment. But it doesn't take that long. It's a security thing. If you are secure with your tempo/meter, that's where the real feel is. Volume doesn't have to be tied to feel. It's a common misconception that the quieter you play, the less energy there is. That's just an outright fallacy right there. The energy comes from how a drummer feels and executes the music, not the volume at which it's played.
 
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yesdog

Silver Member
My church and like many others are obsessed with using a ton of mics on the drums. They have a really nice 4 peice DW maple kit with nine mics on it. With the fish bowl removed. Of course it's going to blow down the back wall with all of the mics. It's over kill and a huge expense. Kick Snare and one overhead mic, works nicely with out the shield . Maple shells are loud to begin with.
 

BillRayDrums

Gold Member
I play at a small service for a fairly large church every Sunday. I have gotten way with playing my full acoustic kit with maple sticks and thinner cymbals. Recently though, they moved us into a smaller chapel, which adds a much more intimate service but leaves me having to play even quieter. I had to bust out my rods because even my trusty maple 5As were too much.

Everyone did say that the mix was good but I really don't like using rods. Feel like it kills my tone. After service the pastor mentioned that they do have a plexi shield if I wanted to use it. I told him "No! No! I'll be good, please don't put me in the fishbowl! I'll be quiet!" He laughed and said it was up to me. Nice to know that they trust me to find what works best for my setup.

Bill, any advice on this matter? I'm going to the store this weekend to try out a pair of thinner maple sticks. If I must use rods then maybe some Tala wands or something. I used to have a pair before I could play quietly.

Edit: Cholly, when playing in the larger chapel with similar acoustic properties to yours I was also told that my tambourine was too loud. This came from the sound guy too. Keep in mind those things are made to project and the higher range of their tone can project quite a bit across a cavernous room like a church.
First off, rods won't really bring down the sound that much because you're hitting the head with a slack device (the bundles of small dowels) and to get the tone you're after, end up striking slightly harder and that defeats the entire purpose.

So when you're playing quieter it's a good thing to visualize "pulling the sound out" of the drum and putting emphasis on the "upstrokes" rather than driving the downstrokes inward. Just that simple visualization can really make a difference.

Speaking of strokes, you'll end up using much lower stick heights that will make you appear quieter as well. People tend to "hear with their eyes" often and seeing someone swinging a stick up higher than 9" will perceive a sense of loudness rather than someone who is using a stick height half of that who is actually hitting harder. :D

The most difficult part of playing really soft is training your ear to validate the sounds you're making. When we play full volume it's as if the sounds on the different instruments are like ripples in a pond. When we play quieter those ripples are more miniscule and we can sometimes perceive the effectiveness of our performance as being substandard but that's not the case. There's a whole other world down in the quiet dynamics that is really worth exploring.
 

yesdog

Silver Member
I play at a small service for a fairly large church every Sunday. I have gotten way with playing my full acoustic kit with maple sticks and thinner cymbals. Recently though, they moved us into a smaller chapel, which adds a much more intimate service but leaves me having to play even quieter. I had to bust out my rods because even my trusty maple 5As were too much.

Everyone did say that the mix was good but I really don't like using rods. Feel like it kills my tone. After service the pastor mentioned that they do have a plexi shield if I wanted to use it. I told him "No! No! I'll be good, please don't put me in the fishbowl! I'll be quiet!" He laughed and said it was up to me. Nice to know that they trust me to find what works best for my setup.

Bill, any advice on this matter? I'm going to the store this weekend to try out a pair of thinner maple sticks. If I must use rods then maybe some Tala wands or something. I used to have a pair before I could play quietly.

Edit: Cholly, when playing in the larger chapel with similar acoustic properties to yours I was also told that my tambourine was too loud. This came from the sound guy too. Keep in mind those things are made to project and the higher range of their tone can project quite a bit across a cavernous room like a church.
Try using 7As or the Steve Gadd sticks. That's what I use at country clubs and loud rooms. Gadds sticks and Vic Firth SD4 have barrel shaped tips. For me they provide a really nice rebound and touch for keeping it quiet. I normally use Vic Firth X55A
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
It's not the stick, it's the velocity. A drummer should be able to play just as quietly with 2B's as 7A's. It's not the stick, it all about being able to hit the drums at 20%, 15%.... instead of 85%. All night long. Low stick heights, slower velocities, and security inside knowing that drum part X is equally effective at 95 decibels as 40 decibels. It really is.

The hardest part about playing soft is to keep the inner kit dynamics at the same ratio as when you can play harder. The snare still has to pop, but at a much reduced volume, so the bass drum and the bronze hits have to be brought way down so the snare still sounds like it is dominant.
 

Red Menace

Platinum Member
Thanks Bill, Larry and Yesdog. I thought I had this quiet thing down, I have held this gig because of my ability to contribute to the music without blasting everyone out of their seats. I am going to try a smaller set of sticks and the rest is just practice, practice and more practice.

The guitar player kind of bullied me into using my rods last week so I suppose that's just on me for letting him. This should be a fun challenge, really get that quiet range down so I can really go from whisper quiet to roaring loud.

On a lighter note, and sorry the de-rail, my drum teacher was very impressed with my dynamics recently when I played through a marching drum solo that he had given me to work on.
 

yesdog

Silver Member
It's not the stick, it's the velocity. A drummer should be able to play just as quietly with 2B's as 7A's. It's not the stick, it all about being able to hit the drums at 20%, 15%.... instead of 85%. All night long. Low stick heights, slower velocities, and security inside knowing that drum part X is equally effective at 95 decibels as 40 decibels. It really is.

The hardest part about playing soft is to keep the inner kit dynamics at the same ratio as when you can play harder. The snare still has to pop, but at a much reduced volume, so the bass drum and the bronze hits have to be brought way down so the snare still sounds like it is dominant.
I now what you are saying Larry, totally agree. I'm just saying I like feel and touch of certain sticks for certain things. That's just me, and the cool thing about our craft is reading how other drummers do things differently.
 

BillRayDrums

Gold Member
I now what you are saying Larry, totally agree. I'm just saying I like feel and touch of certain sticks for certain things. That's just me, and the cool thing about our craft is reading how other drummers do things differently.
I use Pro Mark 2B wood tip for everything I do. I'm not one to keep three different kinds of stick, I like one that can everything I need and the 2B defines my sound.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Oh no disagreement there. I just wanted to emphasize that it's all about the drummer, not the sticks. 7A's are a good choice if you have to hold back.

I prefer the fuller sound from a drum with a thicker stick like a 5A or B.

Choking up on the stick is also an effective way to lower volume without adjusting velocity. But reach is lessened. I hit softer when I have to play quietly, but when I need even less volume, I choke up on the stick.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
I have no advice to offer my good canine friend, but I've heard your playing in a church setting, & it's certainly most appropriate for the gig. Maybe you're one of the skilled few, & the party is being crashed by those who are less sensitive to their surroundings.

Great to see you here BTW :)

Andy.
 
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