Hitting Drums Too Hard

Witterings

Silver Member
Hi all,

What's everyone's take on hitting the drums too hard ???

Apparently one critic was quoted as saying John Bonham would never make it as a drummer because he hit them too hard and when you take the likes of Aaron Spears into account (what a dude) personally I don't think it's possible.

That said I'm sure we've all been to band practices where eveybody says the drummers too loud, my take is it's in too small a room with too small a PA. Used to get told it in a small pub that had open mic night as well.

Drums are drums and make a certain level of noise, yes I do hit them harder than some drummers and not as hard as others but it's not constant it's only where there should be greater emphasis / volume and I'll be the quietest around during a soft ballard.

If I try and play more quietly than I would to accomodate for a small room I feel as though I've got one hand tied behind my back and makes me so conscious of my playing I play rubbish.

I think I've become more aware of it recently as the band I was in I practiced with an electronic kit which meant I coud hit it as hard as I liked and if "The Mix" wasn't right it could be just turned down and yet I could still be giving and feeling that I'm giving it my all in the places it needs it, the new band pratice in a small rehearsal room.

I'm also not talking about just playing loud / hard throughout a song but with variation and surely when you're in a studio / gig with a full PA and sound engineer they just mix you accordingly.

Be interested to hear other peoples views and if it's just me or do you often get asked to turn it down at rehearsals / small venues and does it affect your playing ??
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Yes we as a band get asked to turn down in some places. Yes it does affect my playing. I really can't get into the zone when I have to watch every hit, and even though I feel I play way better when I don't have to limit the volume, the recordings show that when I play soft, it sounds fine. It just doesn't feel fine when I do it.

Choking up on the sticks works pretty good for limiting the volume.
 

jonescrusher

Pioneer Member
Dynamic control is a must-have skill for the rounded drummer. Drums can sound their sweetest when played at lower volumes, the performances on Steely Dan's Aja album being a good example. Unless you play relentlessly loud styles of music, constant hard hitting can become tedious for the listener and band member alike, it shows a lack of finesse.
 

Witterings

Silver Member
Dynamic control is a must-have skill for the rounded drummer. Drums can sound their sweetest when played at lower volumes, the performances on Steely Dan's Aja album being a good example. Unless you play relentlessly loud styles of music, constant hard hitting can become tedious for the listener and band member alike, it shows a lack of finesse.
Think you've got the worng end of the stick maybe, as I tryed to convey in the original post it's not about just hammering away relentlessly. Personally I love nothing more than the feeling of playing and subtlety you can put into a really quiet ballard and don't get critiscised for the quieter songs at all. I'm talking about when it is a louder song or time to crank it up and using a wide envelope of dynamics.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Witt, there are a few ways to hit too hard:

- if you're too loud to hear what the others are doing and/or too high up in the mix

- if you are unintentionally choking the drum (law of diminishing returns)

- if you hurt yourself (beyond your tolerance).

To reduce volume I use lighter sticks, I grip the sticks higher up (as per Larry's comment), and keep my hands lower. Like Jones I enjoy the sound of a gently played drum a la Steve Gadd and Tony Allen. I also enjoy the power Bonzo and Dave Grohl.

It's not easy to play both quietly and with intensity but there are plenty of jazz drummers who show how it's done.
 

jonescrusher

Pioneer Member
Think you've got the worng end of the stick maybe, as I tryed to convey in the original post it's not about just hammering away relentlessly. Personally I love nothing more than the feeling of playing and subtlety you can put into a really quiet ballard and don't get critiscised for the quieter songs at all. I'm talking about when it is a louder song or time to crank it up and using a wide envelope of dynamics.
I'm confused at what you're getting at. Is it a problem of getting the rest of the band to play as loudly as you when it's appropriate to play loudly?
 

andSometimesY

Senior Member
I just had this problem yesterday actually! I was playing at my church and during rehearsal before the service started the sound guy and the band leader both told me to play more quietly. I was fine with that, so I just played more softly. They then said that I was STILL too loud. I told them that it was probably just the crash cymbals so they told me to quit playing crashes. I did and they told me that my volume was perfect. As it turned out, I had to play high-energy rock music without using any crashes. It was hard to control my natural urges to crash, but I guess it inspired some creative fill ideas in me.
 
C

Crazy8s

Guest
I believe that a well-rounded drummer should know how to play very loudly and hit very hard. I also believe that a drummer should also be able to consistently play very softly, and everything in between.

Think of volume as a spread in palette. The louder one is able to play consistently lends to a wider palette of potentials if they can also play quietly consistently.

The most important thing is the wisdom and humility to do what is right for the music and venue. I believe that we drummers are more the volume knob for a band than we are a timekeeper.

My knob goes to 11! :)
 

double_G

Silver Member
i agree w/ a lot of the feedback below. however, i heard the opposite RE Bonham (he did NOT hit them too hard). in that most people sitting behind him while he played noticed that he didn't use insane volume / attack to get a BIG sound...the HUGE sound he got on vinyl. he knew how to hit the drum just enough to get the max sound out; play off the head w/ snap, etc. i believe explained here by Jeff Ocheltree
+ http://www.drummerworld.com/Videos/johnbonhamocheltree1.html

my other .02 cents on this is that i don't think you should ever be denting the heads & that extreme volume is possible when you need it from good, relaxed & technically-correct moeller strokes.
 

Travis22

Senior Member
I think this is a tricky topic. I'm pretty sure it goes without saying that volume control is a very needed ability in any drummer. The music has dynamics written in it for a reason and it shouldn't be overlooked. But at the same time, as percussionists we have to strike our instrument to create the sound, so some damage will occur. I liken this to a sax player who breaks a reed from time to time. Doesn't mean they don't know how to play or have bad technique, it's just something that happens.

If you are refering to having a club owner or someone telling you that your band is too loud, that's a different issue. When growing up and living at home, my mom would sometime make me move my kit to our inclosed proch to practice so she wouldn't have all the noise in the house. But since I've moved out on my own and have started hosting band practices, I have made it a priority when relocating to have a place that my band (which is a heavy rock/metal band) can practic. We use dynamics in our music, but we too go up to 11....sometimes 12. :) We also make sure that we book venues that support and allow louder music.
 

bonzolead

Platinum Member
Dynamic control is a must-have skill for the rounded drummer. Drums can sound their sweetest when played at lower volumes, the performances on Steely Dan's Aja album being a good example. Unless you play relentlessly loud styles of music, constant hard hitting can become tedious for the listener and band member alike, it shows a lack of finesse.
you are so right JC every drummer should have dynamics I don't. care what style of music you're playing there is always room for dynamics, Even Chris Adler & Vinnie Paul are dynamic drummers & they play straight-up thrash metal. Bonham became more dynamic as he got older It's just a skill you need too learn.

Bonzolead
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
You know, I also don't think John Bonham was a hard hitter (at least not all the time as he is so often spoken of). When I watch the old videos of his playing, he's not hitting that hard, in fact I would say it's almost "jazzy" in his approach. Whatever he did for Led Zeppelin, it was perfect.

But I see guys just bashing away, not being musical at all, and then they complain when someone tells them to lighten up. If you're a working drummer, you do what you're supposed to do to make the music happen. And what you're supposed to do when the club owner (or the person writing the checks) or the cops ask you to alter what you're doing. I've done gigs all night playing brushes, or blasticks, or whatever, and never have I complained that whoever I am "isn't being allowed to happen" because I'm not playing at a higher volume. If we were paid for volume, we'd all be millionaires. It's about being musical and serving the atmosphere. If you scare everyone out of the party, then there is no gig, right?

When you own the club and are paying everybody, then you can do whatever you want. And as Quincy Jones told Ndugu Chancellor during the making of "Thriller": "You can put that stuff on your own album" when Ndugu was displaying some creative fills.

Or am I wrong and this is really a touchy subject with about as many answers as there are drummers in the world?
 

brady

Platinum Member
You know, I also don't think John Bonham was a hard hitter (at least not all the time as he is so often spoken of). When I watch the old videos of his playing, he's not hitting that hard, in fact I would say it's almost "jazzy" in his approach. Whatever he did for Led Zeppelin, it was perfect.

But I see guys just bashing away, not being musical at all, and then they complain when someone tells them to lighten up. If you're a working drummer, you do what you're supposed to do to make the music happen. And what you're supposed to do when the club owner (or the person writing the checks) or the cops ask you to alter what you're doing. I've done gigs all night playing brushes, or blasticks, or whatever, and never have I complained that whoever I am "isn't being allowed to happen" because I'm not playing at a higher volume. If we were paid for volume, we'd all be millionaires. It's about being musical and serving the atmosphere. If you scare everyone out of the party, then there is no gig, right?

When you own the club and are paying everybody, then you can do whatever you want. And as Quincy Jones told Ndugu Chancellor during the making of "Thriller": "You can put that stuff on your own album" when Ndugu was displaying some creative fills.

Or am I wrong and this is really a touchy subject with about as many answers as there are drummers in the world?

Nope... That was perfect.

Couldn't have said it better myself.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
Hitting drums "too hard" implies that there is some reason not to...you're hitting the drums "too hard" for something. So, yes, it is possible to hit the drums too hard, whether it be too hard for the smaller venue (too loud), the studio (too much bleed-over created), for the drum (it will choke if played too loud), etc...

As for me, I like to "play" the drums, in a way that is appropriate for the music, in order to sound good.
 
Drums will only give you 100%, you can't get anymore out of it. The harder you hit it, will not get any louder.
Regarding John Bonham's style about being a hard-hitter, he was not, he had feel above his own technique, making his sound unique.
 

BillBachman

Gold Member
A lot of guys hit hard in a tight & stiff way that gets a bad sound and can be interpreted as hitting hard. Hitting fast with relaxed hands (velocity instead of inertia) gets a better sound and there's really no limit to how much air you can move when you hit the drum.
 

Feej

Junior Member
My favorite gigs are where we play rooms with good sound and drum fill. I can hear my drums well and play at a nice comfortable level, with some room to move when we get to the Hendrix stuff. (It's a Woodstock show) I know when I'm playing *too* hard when I start to get sloppy.
 

bonzolead

Platinum Member
You know, I also don't think John Bonham was a hard hitter (at least not all the time as he is so often spoken of). When I watch the old videos of his playing, he's not hitting that hard, in fact I would say it's almost "jazzy" in his approach. Whatever he did for Led Zeppelin, it was perfect.

But I see guys just bashing away, not being musical at all, and then they complain when someone tells them to lighten up. If you're a working drummer, you do what you're supposed to do to make the music happen. And what you're supposed to do when the club owner (or the person writing the checks) or the cops ask you to alter what you're doing. I've done gigs all night playing brushes, or blasticks, or whatever, and never have I complained that whoever I am "isn't being allowed to happen" because I'm not playing at a higher volume. If we were paid for volume, we'd all be millionaires. It's about being musical and serving the atmosphere. If you scare everyone out of the party, then there is no gig, right?

When you own the club and are paying everybody, then you can do whatever you want. And as Quincy Jones told Ndugu Chancellor during the making of "Thriller": "You can put that stuff on your own album" when Ndugu was displaying some creative fills.

Or am I wrong and this is really a touchy subject with about as many answers as there are drummers in the world?
Great post,
I agree 100% that's what dynamics is all about playing what the tune calls for,yeah it's fun too slam drums sometimes but it's also cool too play quietly it's really a skill that will win you over with the bandmates,crowd,club owner or promoter(that's important LOL),etc.

Not only that but for me anyways if I do a crazy fill or fast drumming in general it's harder to do that quieter than louder & requires a lot of discipline IMO.

Keep Swatin' w/Dynamic's,
Bonzolead
 
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