In defence of multiple toms.

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
There's been a lot of talk here over the years about 4 piece kits (& less) being all that's needed to get the job done. In most cases I agree. There's even a train of thinking that to use anything bigger than a 4 piece somehow shows a lack of skill & inventiveness, & that such kits are often a crutch of sorts. As a drummer of limited ability, I agree that to be the case sometimes, & has certainly applied to myself in the past.

I've been thinking about this quite a bit recently. Now, I like a 4 piece as much as anyone & I use a 4 piece for rehearsal most of the time, but my gigging kit is a 6 piece. Put simply, it's what I believe is right for my gig, & more importantly, it's what the band feel is right, & have said so quite firmly.

So, I looked back over some drumcam footage of last night's gig. Just out of curiosity, how much do I actually use 3 or 4 toms in sequence. I was surprised just how much I do use those toms. OK, there are some bits that could be accommodated on two toms. I know this, because I transpose this myself in rehearsal, but there's no doubt that it takes away from the melodic flavour. I counted at least 20 occasions in a two hour set where I use 3 or 4 toms in sequence, & another 20 occasions were I use a range of toms but individually according to the pitch I think fits best.

Now, of course, this is dictated largely by the type of music I play, & our band's interpretation of that material. I've concluded that my current setup for this band is the right choice. I'm now satisfied that my gigging kit is not a crutch, & there is a time & place where using a larger set is an appropriate musical choice.

Anyhow, here's some examples I pulled off the camera from last night in support of my claim ;)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbE4rOmfj9U&feature=youtu.be&hd=1


.
 

Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
I agree Andy. The type and quantity of the drums that a drummer plays has nothing to do with their creativity. In fact, I don't consider a 6 pc kit large.

I end up playing most gigs here in NYC on a house 4 pc. That's because that's what's there and as a long-time working drummer, I could do it all on kick, snare and hat if I needed to. It does not make me better to play on a 4 pc. I guess it could help someone focus on their groove more but I have spent years on just that so I'm not distrtacted by more toms.

Many of my favorite contemporary drummers (Simon Phillips, Danny Carey, Carter Beauford, Mike Mangini, Steve Smith) play larger kits anyway. Is any big-kit basher going to tell me that those guys are copping out by playing a large kit?

Just make great music and all criticisms will be moot. No?
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
If you're just focused on "transposing" your exact fills and grooves to a smaller kit, you're missing out on what some of us like about smaller kits. When there's less parts, I feel more inclined to be creative with the whole kit. I use other things besides toms, more bass drum, or rims or part of the fill on the hats, that could go on forever, that that's the great part about it.

That's also another reason I tend not to have "specific" fills. If I always just do what feels and sounds cool at the time, I'm always being creative and never have to transpose anything, because it's always coming from my creative center. Realistically, I have to do some things the same way every time, but different house kits is an excellent example of a reason why I don't really need to do the exact same fill in the same space each time.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Just make great music and all criticisms will be moot. No?
Sums it up for me Jeff :

BTW, how are you feeling mate?

If you're just focused on "transposing" your exact fills and grooves to a smaller kit, you're missing out on what some of us like about smaller kits.
Good point. I didn't mean to necessarily focus on that. The only transposing I do is related to "signature" fills that need to take the same form, & yes, I deploy different elements of the kit to do that.

Another point, this thread is not in any way an attempt to diminish the benefits of additional creativity/inventiveness afforded by extracting pleasing results from less drums. That's been discussed here many times. I'm just balancing the frequently voiced support for 4 piece playing being somehow the superior expression of our craft. I'm also offering my somewhat simplistic & mostly under qualified position into the mix, & posting some clips I extracted in the process of my own personal position evaluation.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
For me the size of the kit is a very important thing. I have nothing against a small kit, and I have no bias towards a large kit. That being said, I for one believe that kit size has a tendency to dictate the style of playing I will be doing. By no means am I going to sit at a 4 piece kit and try to play some speed metal, or am I going to sit behind Derek Roddys kit (I wish) and play some swing. Each kit to me seems to have its own personality, its own musical needs to meet. I have sat behind a 4 piece kit with just hats and a ride, and a massive 11 piece with more cymbals than I could count. Did I play the same styles with these 2 kits? HELL NO! I played what I felt was appropriate for the tools I was given.

I like the simplicity of a small kit, but I like the sound options of a large kit. I've had both, and they both had their advantages and disadvantages. But they both suited my needs for what was required, and that's what is important in my opinion.

My next kit will probably be a midsized one, six piece with enough cymbals to fill my needs without being over the top. I feel this is a nice happy medium, and should fill any playing requirements I may find myself with.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I sort of relate it to a painter, an artist. I realize the main colors in the spectrum or a rainbow, and realize a painter can mix colors to make a third color but that can't be done with drums. IMO creativity is limited with fewer toms. If you can create on two toms, then why can you create more on three or four toms. To say that someone can be , or has to be more creative on a four piece set is not true in my opinion. I can be a lot more creative with a closet full of clothes than I can be with 2 black shirts and two pair of jeans. The analogy may not be the best, but if the thinking is that drummers with four piece sets are more creative, then I think the thinking is flawed. Just as why most people have multiple cymbals.
 

mwmak5

Junior Member
I completely agree. The number of toms really does not effect how good or creative a drummer is. Music is about freedom, so why should a drummer who loves his instrument have to be limited as to how many toms he can play? Personally, I have tried many different sizes of drum kits... 4 piece... 3 piece... 5,6,7,8,12, you name it.

I've even played gigs with nothing but a snare drum and a bass drum. But that is beside the point. I believe that if you are going to at least use the entire drum kit a little bit, then you may use how ever many toms you want. Although a lot of drummers say that a 4 piece makes you a more creative drummer, just because a drummer uses 3 or more toms does not make him lazy. A drummer should use how ever many toms he feels he will use, but not more than that. Personally I believe the 4 piece is definitely the most EFFICIENT of drum kits, but certainly not anymore "creative" and "innovative" than any other size drum set.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
I have a 6 piece kit and I most often choose not to use it for gigs.
I see no point in hauling all of that extra gear for no real reason.
I watched your video and I didn't see anything that you did that couldn't have been done on a 4 piece. Just as you stated that you practice with a 4 piece with no problem.
If the gig is high paying and the stage is large I consider bringing out a 6 piece kit.
It simply isn't worth it for me to transport and set up a 6 piece kit for a $75 to $120 pay.
I bring the minimum amount of gear to 99.9% of the gigs that I play.
There is nothing wrong or right about the amount of drums that a drummer chooses to bring to a gig.
So there is no reason to defend the amount of gear that a drummer uses.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
My only issue with this Bob is that "hauling all of that extra gear" "for nothing".
First one or two toms isn't hauling or all that extra gear. And as for nothing, well obviously it's for additional voices or sounds, so hardly for nothing.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
If the gig is high paying and the stage is large I consider bringing out a 6 piece kit.
It simply isn't worth it for me to transport and set up a 6 piece kit for a $75 to $120 pay.
Then why do you even have a 6 piece kit? Seems kinda rockstar to me to let the amount of money you are going to make determine the size kit you use. Doesn't the music and the audience deserve your full effort (includes kit transport, set up, and tear down) everytime you play, regardless of pay?
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
There's been a lot of talk here over the years about 4 piece kits (& less) being all that's needed to get the job done. In most cases I agree. There's even a train of thinking that to use anything bigger than a 4 piece somehow shows a lack of skill & inventiveness, & that such kits are often a crutch of sorts. As a drummer of limited ability, I agree that to be the case sometimes, & has certainly applied to myself in the past.

I've been thinking about this quite a bit recently. Now, I like a 4 piece as much as anyone & I use a 4 piece for rehearsal most of the time, but my gigging kit is a 6 piece. Put simply, it's what I believe is right for my gig, & more importantly, it's what the band feel is right, & have said so quite firmly.

So, I looked back over some drumcam footage of last night's gig. Just out of curiosity, how much do I actually use 3 or 4 toms in sequence. I was surprised just how much I do use those toms. OK, there are some bits that could be accommodated on two toms. I know this, because I transpose this myself in rehearsal, but there's no doubt that it takes away from the melodic flavour. I counted at least 20 occasions in a two hour set where I use 3 or 4 toms in sequence, & another 20 occasions were I use a range of toms but individually according to the pitch I think fits best.

Now, of course, this is dictated largely by the type of music I play, & our band's interpretation of that material. I've concluded that my current setup for this band is the right choice. I'm now satisfied that my gigging kit is not a crutch, & there is a time & place where using a larger set is an appropriate musical choice.

Anyhow, here's some examples I pulled off the camera from last night in support of my claim ;)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbE4rOmfj9U&feature=youtu.be&hd=1


.
This has really been bugging you, eh?

So you're really the only guy here who uses more than two toms and freely admits to using windchimes. This sounds like a personal issue ;)
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
This has really been bugging you, eh?

So you're really the only guy here who uses more than two toms and freely admits to using windchimes. This sounds like a personal issue ;)
I have four toms at times and made my own chimes. bell chimes not wind chimes.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Not crazy about a 4 piece. I need that 2nd rack. But if I sat at a set with 5 toms, I don't think I would change my style of play for them. The way I look at it...I only have 2 hands, so no matter how many toms are there, I can only hit 2 at a time. So 3 is plenty. And with linear patterns using the kick, a small kit can sound huge. I only have a problem with big kits when the player is clearly using them as a form of compensation for a lack of ability. Then it's a little pathetic.
 

bigiainw

Gold Member
I have 5 toms and have been known to use all of them too, although 4 is more normal for me. I make no apologies for not having a traditional 1 up one down kit, in fact I get fed up looking at them- everyone seems to have one these days. I blame Britpop! I did try stripping down my setup- this was suggested by the rest of the band, but within 2 gigs they wanted the big kit again as they like the variation in sound. No Andy, have 4 toms and be proud. there are lots of things that don't need 4 toms to play, but if you've got them, why not flaunt them. I didn't spend all that money to have them stacked in the corner! I am a polytom and I don't care who knows it.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
You're always downplaying your drumming skills, but I think your fills are freaking awesome. You know how to use those drums effectively. Besides, how can you do that flam fill in "Jump" without that 8 and 10? No, stick with the formula.
 
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bobdadruma

Platinum Member
My only issue with this Bob is that "hauling all of that extra gear" "for nothing".
First one or two toms isn't hauling or all that extra gear. And as for nothing, well obviously it's for additional voices or sounds, so hardly for nothing.
My 6 piece kit uses two toms to the left of the bass drum on a heavy stand and two suspended floor toms on a heavy stand.
It adds a about 50 LBS to my load. It takes more time to set up, tear down and transport.
I don't see the need to lug the extra stuff for most gigs that I play.
The audience doesn't notice if I play a 4 or 6 piece kit.
Quite frankly, at 1:30 in the morning I want to pack up quickly and easily, and go home.
That extra gear does matter to me and it makes a big difference. I also transport a PA system sometimes.
I said in my post that I don't condemn anyone who chooses to bring a larger kit to a gig.

By the way Grunt, You don't gig or play with bands. You almost never transport your kit.
I have a feeling that if you gigged once or twice a week your thoughts on the amount of gear that you hauled would change.
 
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Drumolator

Platinum Member
To each his/her own; play what you like. It seems a bit strange to me that so many drummers use only two toms, but besides small bass drum jazz-sized kits, most kits on the market have three or four toms. It is usually cheaper to buy a five-piece kit and not use one tom than it is to buy a snare, bass drum, and two toms separately. I realize that drum companies want to sell as many drums as possible, but what is on the market does not match what many are actually playing. Peace and goodwill.
 
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drumdevil9

Platinum Member
I don't think anyone should be apologizing or justifying their kit size to anyone. If it's your preference and it's appropriate for the music, who's business is it? Nobody's.

As for creativity I think it's irrelevant. Can't we all think of highly creative drummers who use all manner of setups? If you take a great drummer and put him or her on a bigger/smaller kit will they be more/less creative? Doubt it.
 

Drumolator

Platinum Member
I don't think anyone should be apologizing or justifying their kit size to anyone. If it's your preference and it's appropriate for the music, who's business is it? Nobody's.

As for creativity I think it's irrelevant. Can't we all think of highly creative drummers who use all manner of setups? If you take a great drummer and put him or her on a bigger/smaller kit will they be more/less creative? Doubt it.
Too true. Peace and goodwill.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Rather than extra toms, I like different tones like the cowbell and mounted tambourine. I freely admit I like windchimes too. In certain spots, they sound just gorgeous. I like the maraca sound too but I haven't found a way to play them with sticks yet lol. It very much feels funny to shake something and play drums with 1 stick. My bands don't really need it either. Not really crazy about a woodblock tone, I can get close enough with a rimclick. And guiros make me want to hurl, especially thr metal ones. Not a soothing tone to me, it's kind of grating. Yea, give me varied tones over extra toms any day.

But I think Andy's band and music choice justifies a bigger kit. I mean a 4 piece wouldn't fit the bigness of the rest of the show. I never thought Andy's kit was inappropriate. And Paul is right, some of those quad fills you do make me go, huh? wha?
 
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