Is being over-educated about gear good, or bad?


Silver Member
Right now:

General Discussion: 54 viewing
Drum Technique: 18 viewing
Drum Gear: 92 viewing

So most people are more interested in the gear than becoming a better drummer(technique).

I often wish I spend more time practicing than reading drumming discussion boards or more money on education than on buying cymbal number xx.




Platinum Member
Technique is 'doing'. Gear is 'knowing' and 'having'.

For me, while technique is also 'knowing' it's more difficult to discuss, and more easily grasped through visuals like youtube demonstrations and so on.
Gear is easier to talk about.


Senior Member
I'm with Polly... people collect a lot weirder stuff, some people just seem to be into gear.. good for them, if I had more money god knows what I'd be into. On a slightly related note, I wonder who'll get these, Buddy Rich's cymbals are up for grabs and the price is huge!

con struct

Platinum Member
I'm one of the drummers you're describing, the ones who had little to no knowledge about drums and all the components thereof. I knew that I liked my silver sparkle Ludwig drums; all the drummers I tried to model myself after played Ludwig kits and mine were the very same as theirs.

Zildjian cymbals were a must have, too, because...well, just because.

I didn't think about my hardware at all. I had a Speed King pedal, Ludwig hihat and cymbal stands, and I thought they were great because they were Ludwig.

What we knew was how to make our drums sound good, mostly from trial and error and also from other drummers.

It wasn't until a drummer I was sharing a house with showed me a copy of Modern Drummer that I started learning about all the many things there are to know about drums and hardware, stuff that everyone knows today.

I'm glad I learned those things. I like knowing about things.


Platinum Member
Right now:

General Discussion: 54 viewing
Drum Technique: 18 viewing
Drum Gear: 92 viewing

So most people are more interested in the gear than becoming a better drummer(technique).
Well, not necessarily. Right now, there are TONS of books, DVDS, videos on YouTube, etc. that deal with becoming a better player. How many publications, videos, etc. are there dealing with how to buy drum gear? Very few by comparison. I think of this forum as being more a resource about discussing gear, or what resources to use to learn how to ________ (fill in the blank with a playing technique) rather than instructional. The playing technique/instructional part is all of the videos on Drummerworld, outside of the discussion forum.


Silver Member
I don't think you can be "over-educated" on gear. You simply have to temper what you THINK your ears want with what the gear actually gives you.

There have been times where specs on gear gave me exactly what I wanted and times I got burned because for whatever reason, my ears didn't hear what I thought they would.

That's where subjectivity as well as our individual ears come into play.

But between heads, tuning, the room, the sticks used, a players individual ears and touch... there are a ton of variables that are beyond the gear's actual specs anyway.

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
I'd say it's good and bad...

It's good, because nowadays, all manufacturers explain what their kit are made of, in terms of wood type, bearing edges, thickness etc... and the vaste amount of heads available too, so all this info about gear can lead someone to purchase a kit which will be more likely to sound like they want in their head, so for this, knowledge is power... but you'll have to understand the principles and effect a type of construction, type of bearing edges, type of heads do and don't in term of sounds, without knowing this it's just a random guess...

It's bad, because one can become obsessed about gears, always wanting to have the latest novelty, which is not always better than the predecessor.

I know my way around drums, heads, hardware, sticks and cymbals, over the years I acquired a substantial knowledge... but still, it didn't made me change my kit and cymbals for the last 25 years... I'm quite happy with what I've got and I'm not convinced that the drum making business has evolved that much that it does warrant for me to have a new kit.

Only very recently, I've set my mind on a new kit, because it has a sound I've never heard on any other kits I played in my entire life, but it's rather expensive, so I'll have to consider all the pros and cons before making a decision.

Anon La Ply

I'm with Polly... people collect a lot weirder stuff, some people just seem to be into gear.. good for them, if I had more money god knows what I'd be into. On a slightly related note, I wonder who'll get these, Buddy Rich's cymbals are up for grabs and the price is huge!
That example sums it up, Caz! Those $30k cymbals won't be purchased for playing around the traps.

I just Googled weird collections and it ranged from Coke cans to toasters to locks of celebrities' hair. Collecting drums isn't so weird. Our guitarist curates a museum's musical instrument collection. Our keyboardist collects exotic instruments from overseas, with varied levels of ability on them. Collectors help preserve gear knowledge and history. And instruments look great in the house and encourage jamming.

The only issue I can think of with collecting is environmental, but I've been doing renovations of late so I can't preach about frivolous use of resources. Our grandparents, who scrimped through The Depression and WW I&II might have grumbled something about wastefulness, though.


Gold Member
Good question and interesting thread.

I fall in the middle: I have some knowledge about gear, but I don't need to know everything about equipment. So I guess, I am a soft gear junkie. I value knowledge (I have a PhD and have been an Assistant Dean) but for me, ultimately, it comes down to how the gear sounds. I also believe the law of diminishing returns applies here: how much "better" does a boutique aluminium snare ($$$$) sound than a well tuned Ludwig Acrolite ($). Many of us will be familiar with the minutiae of that boutique snare and may covet one, but will it sound significantly better than that Acrolite? I'm not sure.



Platinum Member
I think that the idea of "knowledge is power" is good in theory, but I wonder if players becoming so educated about gear is a good or bad thing. Until the advent of drum magazines (which really didn't exist until 1977), local and regional drum shows, and ultimately the internet, information and marketing and shared experiences had been very limited. Few drummers really knew - or cared - what edges were about, how plies and hardware affect a drum's sound, and there wasn't the pre-occupation with where a drum is made, or who makes the shells and parts. Companies certainly weren't forthcoming with such information, not because it was a big secret, but because drummers weren't really interested enough at the time, and such explanations and specifications would have seemed like so much gobbledygook. Consider that some companies didn't even tell you that their 'metal' snares were brass, where today, shell material would probably be the first thing we'd want to know about a snare!

On the whole, I'll agree that the drum specification awareness and a certain amount of industry knowledge has helped us make better decisions about the gear we use. But I also think that the sheer amount of information available gets in the way of making (formerly basic) choices such as, 'does the drum sound good?'

The over-educated drummer today is concerned with edges, shell material/thickness/construction, heads, wires, throwoffs, hoop type/material/thickness, lug mass, lug gaskets, number of lugs, washers (nylon of metal), vent or no vent, the difference in sound between lacquer finish or wrap, and whether the wrap is glued or taped. And that's just the snare!

Yet none of those things were important - or even known - to the vast majority of drummers until fairly recently. Never once did I ask about any of those aspects when checking out a snare. I asked for a stick - and it didn't matter what size or whether it was nylon tip or not - hit the drum, and I either liked it, or I didn't. I never asked to try a different tuning, or see how it sounded with a different head, or questioned what it was made of, etc. If I liked it, I bought it! Or in most cases, just drooled over it because I couldn't afford it.

But I have become overly-aware of how the different aspects of a drum can affect its sound and playability, and now there are many things I 'need' to know before I can simply hit the drum, heaven forfend that I might decide with my ears if it sounds good or not. Sometimes that knowledge prevents me from even bothering, and it takes a lot of willpower and letting-go to get over it and discover some great-sounding, but specification deficient drums. Am I not supposed to like certain drums because they don't spec well, or are a 'budget' line? Conversely, should I automatically buy anything with exacting, well-researched specs and meticulous craftsmanship? Does that mean the drum sounds good?

I started by saying knowledge is power, but I wonder if ignorance is bliss at times. I miss going into the music store, tapping on pretty drums and shiny cymbals, and liking them all without question.

Anyway, just pondering on a Saturday morning as a categorize a bunch of gear I picked up on the road this year. Probably none of this is important.

I'm not quite sure the premise here is accurate. I think many drummers eagerly read everything they could about drums, even if there wasn't as much, and were fairly well-informed.

I think the explosion in drums - in musical instruments in general - parallels to some extent the explosion in musical tastes and genres among audiences and musicians. Back in the day, not many drummers knew a whole lot about African rhythms, Brazilian rhythms, East Indian time divisions, left-foot clave, double pedaling and more. There are now dozens of genres that never used to exist, and a few genres have gone out of style. Formerly exotic instruments like cajons and djembes are now very common. Drummers are more educated about all manner of things, including the very instruments they play.


Platinum Member
I don't think you can be "over-educated" on gear. You simply have to temper what you THINK your ears want with what the gear actually gives you.
And that's it; you HAVE to move beyond looking at the specs and actually play whatever the piece of gear in question is. I can't count the number of threads started by guys looking for help finding the "perfect" drum head that never seem to actually try anything. There comes a point where all the advice and virtual comparisons are completely meaningless without actually trying something.

Which makes me wonder at what point the information overload actually becomes counter-productive to sales. I totally agree with DrumEatDrum about the ImperialStars and how today no one could get away with just saying a shell is "wood." Now it's all about what kind of wood, how many plies, thickness of each ply, method used to glue the shell...

But even though we're trained to expect SO much information it's reached a point where it isn't necessarily leading us to make a decision about what to buy faster. If anything it seems to make us more likely to put off buying because of the worry you may overlook some important spec and buy the wrong thing.

Maybe all that jargon helped set some people apart initially, but now I have to wonder if it's hurting sales more than helping.


Platinum Member
We play drums because we like the noise they make. If you like the sound of a kit it only matters what name is on it when it comes to vanity, and I don't mean that as a dig at anyone.

Some will only play a Birch ply bass drum as they say they prefer the sound to other timbers, and the bearing edge must be a specific angle oh and it must be un-drilled..........and then stick a load of damping inside the drum so you couldnt tell what it was made from anyway.
To be honest, as long as a kit makes the sound we like, is the right sizes for our needs, and is mechanically reliable, that is all we need. But that would be boring, would it not?


Platinum Member
My knowledge helps me.
I know what Is available in the way of drums and hardware etc, and that gives me the power to use what I like to create drum kits that I like. I add custom features to every kit that I own.
I get the ideas from my seeing all that there to see and hearing all that there is to hear when it comes to drums and gear.
I don't feel that I am over educated. Knowledge is power and you can never get enough of it.


Staff member
It's a player priority thing. Gear should never get in the way of what's really important. It's a vehicle, a means to an end, not an end in itself.

Additionally, making gear choices on spec's alone is a crap shoot. For example, I've seen more examples of poor quality/design in solid shell drums than in ply drums. Just because a drum is of stave or steam bent construction, doesn't automatically mean it's sonically superior. Same with brand, same with country of origin, wood species, etc, etc.

The "just hit it - & if you like it, buy it" statement is very true, but in this current market, the opportunity to do so outside of the absolute mainstream is diminishing. This is why we go to great lengths to provide honest capture recordings that are both true to real life & informative. In an ideal world, we'd all have a bricks & mortar store within reasonable travelling distance that had a vast array of instruments across all levels, & a good demonstration strategy. In reality, that hardly exists for most of us, so we use a composite of tools to make our choices, especially if we want something outside of mainstream mass production.


Platinum Member

Two sides of the same coin, imo.

I honestly do believe that music comes from the musician's hands, fingers.. and not from the instrument. I've seen enough great players over the years, playing shitty instruments an making great music to think otherwise.

I remember being at an open mike once, in a club with a godawful drumkit ( the worst kit possible, ever! ), really crappy house amps etc... and the musicians on stage were making an unholy racket.
Later, into the evening, Aurora Jane ( a very cool band from Grea-land, Sydney ) troops in, has a few drinks and decides to jam. The same club with the same bad sound, bad kit etc magically transforms into beautiful sound, fat and crisp grooves ... its like someone changed the backline with a magic wand.

I dont think extra knonwledge can ever a bad thing but if it starts to lead you by the nose, and small things become huge in your head by peering through the magnifying glass of constant gear scrutiny, one tends to lose perspective.

Have said that, I'm grateful that there are people, who made my Yamaha drums, people who make other great sounding drums, beautiful drums, people like Andy Crosby ( KIS ), who zoom in 800% into all this, so that they can give us the best instruments possible.



Platinum Member
It could be a combination, a little bit of tech and how douse it sound.

Personally having too much knowledge can be a bad thing, with drums anyway.

Why would you need to know if the ply's were all horizontal, or alternating with vertical? Why would you need to know if the ply's were jointed at an angle or straight? I cant tell the sonic difference between types of wood let alone mixing wood ply's in the same shell.

I have been playing drums since the 60s and If I were forced to listen to a blind test of kits or even heads I would be in trouble. If someone said "Ok, now you tell me which of those two kit you just played was a Tama Hyperstar Mk3 and which was a Pearl GTX Turbo" I would be lost. Once they started asking about the bearing edge angles and the one I prefer my embarasment would be complete.

Its like breakfast cereal in big superstores, just far too much choice, all with conflicting and confusing information on the packs. I am only going to eat it for goodness sake. So what do I do? I go straight to the one I know I like. If I had a spare millenium I could try them all and possibly find a new favorite, but I enjoy eating too much to waste the time.

Its the same with drums. I am going to hit them with a stick, and I like the sound of the kit and heads I have without complicating things. I don't need to know how the shells are configured or who manufactured the glue or what phase the moon was in when the tree to supply the wood was cut down. Go in a shop try the kits you like the look of, and pick the one that "You" think sounds the best. If its a DW meggasuperwhizz, great, If its a second hand fepos, even better cos you have just saved yourself a fortune and still have the kit you like.


Platinum Member
I'm enjoying my quite limited knowledge of drum gear because that prevents me from thinking about it too much. Coming from the guitar, I can confirm that it can be counterproductive if you have all the details in your head and keep wondering what the 'best' solution for a given situation (or one's budget) is. So when it comes to drums I'm more focusing on the motions/technique although nice gear is important of course. I just don't want to repeat that - not necessarily mistake but certainly overfocussing - with guitars and taking it to the drums. I also noticed that in my home recording. Stuff like "Which cables are the best? Is my signal path clean enough? How can I modify my microphones to make them even better?" All this added up to paralyzing actually making/recording music to some extent. That was a shocking experience. Sure some (or even a lot of) knowledge is good but from a certain point it can start getting frustrating.

When I'll have a better understanding of which sounds I actually need/prefer the situation might change and I'll simply have to get more into the details but for now I'm fine with what I 'know'.


Platinum Member
A guy I like to follow said, "The truth will set you free." However, someone else said, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."

Sound, reliability, looks ... those are what matter. How you achieve that is up to you. Some need lots of knowledge, and others do not. Peace and goodwill.