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

whiteknightx

Silver Member
Hmmm.....I dont know White. Why not just play the mid range kits and chose the one you like the sound, first, and looks of, second. You really do not need to know what the bearing edge angles and shell construction are. Unless we are going to rule out a kit that we love the sound of because it is made from Birch instead of Maple, or has 30D bearing edges and we simply have to have 45D.

A good friend of mine has a vintage Gretsch, and it sounds fabulous. It has uneven bearing edges, out of round shells, out of round hoops that are far from flat, and.....It sounds fabulous.
Actually your point is the one I was trying to make. Perhaps I didn't word it well.
I was really just trying to point out that with so much information out there, it makes it harder to choose, and it's easy to get hung up on minute details between kits that really have no effect on the sound, or enjoyment you'll get out of them.

How many new threads get started per day with somebody asking for recommendations between this cymbal or that cymbal, this pedal or that, what kit should I buy? The answer is almost universally - try them and see what you like better.
 
T

The Old Hyde

Guest
Having all the knowledge before a purchase can work both ways. Going by what the best snare should be on paper would have kept me from buying my Ludwig Supralite.
 

vitaflo

Member
That's what I'm talking about. I think knowing things is basically good, but there comes a point where too much information, not correctly prioritized, can get in the way of what should be a simple decision when purchasing gear: does it sound good, and/or does it serve the intended purpose.

A certain amount of informed research is always a good idea, but placing too much emphasis on specs, or sometimes a company's mission statement, clouds one's ability to hit a drum or cymbal with a stick, or pick up and examine a piece of hardware, and make a decision.

Bermuda
There is a wonderful book on this topic called The Paradox of Choice. The basic gist is that more choice is actually much worse for people because the time invested in research to pick the "right" choice is an asset that has value (time) that requires a larger "payback" (happiness) from the item purchased in order for the purchaser to feel satisfied.

Because happiness gained from any purchase has a limit and because happiness always wanes and soon becomes contentment, the more research and time you spend to make your decision, the less overall satisfaction you tend to have with a product. This is exacerbated by the amount of other choices and the opportunity costs they present.

This is definitely why listening with your ear and making a determination is always better. You are self-limiting the number of available options based on sound only, making it much easier to make a decision, and are much more likely to be satisfied long term with it. This of course assumes you can ignore all of the other specs that would otherwise cloud your judgement.
 

Mikecore

Silver Member
(I would add, check out the hardware and see if you like how everything clamps together.)

.
This.

Most drum companies make excellent drums, so to me it comes down to how easy it is to tech my own gear, since I do all of the setup and teardown at the gig. Much as we like to play our drums, the reality is that most of us have to handle all of the "tinkertoy" bits whenever we take the little darlings out, and I certainly don't want to deal with hardware systems that may seem innovative on the company's brochure, but turn out to be a pain on the riser.

Similarly, paying attention to what my favorite drum maker does to get those drums dialed in allowed me to replace a 22" bass drum with an 18" without really sacrificing the sound of it. A real treat when loading them in and out.
 

Living Dead Drummer

Platinum Member
Hmmmmm....

I pride myself on being a gear head with drums. I never understood when people remained uneducated about the tools of their craft.
I worked on-and-off in music stores the last decade and one thing that ALWAYS bugged me was when people would come in asking for something and have no clue as to what they are talking about.
It would be almost twice a week someone would come and ask me for drumheads, and when I asked them what size they needed I get "oh, I don't know".... How do you not know the side of your drums?!?!?! AHHH!!!

I can understand taking a blind test on a drum or cymbal and just going with your ears, but once you made your selection I would take the time to learn WHY I liked said cymbal or drum. What about it's manufacture is it that made it so pleasing to my ears.
 

Bobrush

Senior Member
...
This is definitely why listening with your ear and making a determination is always better. You are self-limiting the number of available options based on sound only, making it much easier to make a decision, and are much more likely to be satisfied long term with it. This of course assumes you can ignore all of the other specs that would otherwise cloud your judgement.
This also assumes that you easily have the opportunity to listen to various choices, side-by-side in the same environment, at the same time. This can often be a challenge for a lot of us. Which is why so many of us go to internet forums to ask opinions of colleagues, who have a vast collective experience. It may not be ideal, but sometimes it is the best we can do. Also, it is usually better than we could have done 40 years ago.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
Hmmmmm....

I pride myself on being a gear head with drums. I never understood when people remained uneducated about the tools of their craft.
I worked on-and-off in music stores the last decade and one thing that ALWAYS bugged me was when people would come in asking for something and have no clue as to what they are talking about.
It would be almost twice a week someone would come and ask me for drumheads, and when I asked them what size they needed I get "oh, I don't know".... How do you not know the side of your drums?!?!?! AHHH!!!

I can understand taking a blind test on a drum or cymbal and just going with your ears, but once you made your selection I would take the time to learn WHY I liked said cymbal or drum. What about it's manufacture is it that made it so pleasing to my ears.
You worked in a music store and people regularly came in who had no idea what size there drums were??? I would assume they were buying heads for a family member, I find it hard to believe that a drummer would not be aware of there drum sizes.. Also, I love my current cymbal setup but I dont need to know the Brass/Bronze content or lathing process to know why. They sound great, to me, thats all I need to know.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Fantastic thread. Thanks for raising the question, Berm.

I get a pretty steady stream of inquiries from people interested in having a drum made, and I value having discussion and planning together with my clients. A certain portion of these inquiries are from people who will send me a set of detailed specs and ask for feedback on their thinking, and when that happens my first response is usually to steer the dialogue back to what character they want the drum to have and how they're going to use it (music style, playing style, playing situations). It's great to be aware of the specs but, unless you understand them in a good deal of depth, that knowledge may not result in the sound and playability you're really after. For all the discussion I see in forums, videos, publications, etc., there's very little on some of the details that really make a difference. And there's just as little on how all these specs work or don't work in combination -- it's possible for one factor to cancel out the benefits of another. And, unfortunately, there are not always good guides to separating misleading, irrelevant, or even false information from the information that's valid. People like to say that what they personally have or use or know of is the best, be it cars or computers or drums, but it's not always the objective reality.

I would put drum buyers in three categories as regards informed shopping. First, there are the players who just want to see the end result and move on to musicianship and technique. They don't care about the specs other than out of curiosity; it's mostly about the sound and feel, and about usability (tuning, adjustments, etc.). Second, there are those who pursue quality, usually because it gives them confidence in their instrument and in their purchase decision. These folks tend to be brand-conscious, feature-conscious and materials-conscious; they want to know they're using good gear, whether or not they actually need to call on all of its capabilities. And third, there are the collectors, buyers who are focused on appearance, rarity, prestige, or the completeness of their collection.

I think all three groups are good buyers with valid interests, but for different reasons, and I like working with all three. But in the forums and elsewhere, the lines get crossed and sometimes a guy who normally takes an "I'll know it when I hear it" approach gets caught up in a "what kind of edges" discussion. I keep remembering watching a top-rank pro artist at a drum show trying out a stave drum -- the more the builder (not me) tried to explain stave construction to him, the more glazed-over his expression got. Yes, it can be too much information and it can become a turn-off. Yes, it's possible to lose sight of why we play drums if we're deluged by specifications and theories. Call it over-education if you want -- it's a forest-and-trees situation, a distraction to our focus, a redirection of our path.

But it really depends on the individual and what he or she enjoys about drums. Different strokes for different folks, as they say. I would suggest only two cautions: One, a little knowledge can be counterproductive. Unless you know and understand these details in depth they may not get what you really want out of the drum, so maybe that shouldn't be the only basis of your buying decisions. And two, don't lose sight of why you love drums; if it's for the joy of playing, make sure that's where your attention is focused. Stay on your path.
Yet another balanced & insightful post Jeff :) I'd especially like to pick up & highlight Jeff's point about how features/specs relate to each other. I'm constantly chirping on about the same thing - the need for the instrument design to be considered as a whole, not just a collection of spec's, that in someone's theory, should equate to the desired characteristics.

Nowhere are the downsides of too much knowledge but too little experience more frequently displayed than in the custom building world. I'm sure Jeff has the same experiences. The guy who's fixed on his requirements because he's/she's convinced they're right, & will trawl the builders until they find someone who'll say yes. I've lost count of the number of builds we've turned down on that basis, simply because we know it's going to sound poor, & ultimately, it has our name on it. It's one of the reasons we moved to defined ranges.
 

whiteknightx

Silver Member
This also assumes that you easily have the opportunity to listen to various choices, side-by-side in the same environment, at the same time. This can often be a challenge for a lot of us. Which is why so many of us go to internet forums to ask opinions of colleagues, who have a vast collective experience. It may not be ideal, but sometimes it is the best we can do. Also, it is usually better than we could have done 40 years ago.
This is very true. I live outside Toronto, and we have lots of decent music stores around town. Testing out a snare or a cymbal is easy to do.
Typically the drum department is some afterthought tucked in the back, with 10 kits stacked on the wall, and only one kit on the floor. And don't even think about sitting at it.

To A-B different drum kits you often can see one of them at this shop, and then you'd have to drive across the city to see another kit you like. (not that you'll be able to set it up.)

And since they'll have the stock heads on, and probably never tuned since they left the factory, I'm not sure how much you'll get out of playing them anyways.
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
.... First, there are the players who just want to see the end result and move on to musicianship and technique. They don't care about the specs other than out of curiosity; it's mostly about the sound and feel, and about usability (tuning, adjustments, etc.).....
This best describes me. At the end of the day it needs to fit the sound and feel of what I'm after. If it doesn't - no matter how well it's constructed - is totally irrelevant to me.

About 3 weeks ago I played a $1600. snare drum that I wouldn't pay $200. for. Not that it's not an amazing drum to someone else - just does nothing for me. The builder is a highly well known and respected individual. I'm not going to start slamming someone saying it's terrible - it's just not for me.


Yet another balanced & insightful post Jeff :) I'd especially like to pick up & highlight Jeff's point about how features/specs relate to each other. I'm constantly chirping on about the same thing - the need for the instrument design to be considered as a whole, not just a collection of spec's, that in someone's theory, should equate to the desired characteristics.

Nowhere are the downsides of too much knowledge but too little experience more frequently displayed than in the custom building world. I'm sure Jeff has the same experiences. The guy who's fixed on his requirements because he's/she's convinced they're right, & will trawl the builders until they find someone who'll say yes. I've lost count of the number of builds we've turned down on that basis, simply because we know it's going to sound poor, & ultimately, it has our name on it. It's one of the reasons we moved to defined ranges.
I happen to be the continual benefactor from both you and Jeff's postings in this forum.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
This is very true. I live outside Toronto, and we have lots of decent music stores around town. Testing out a snare or a cymbal is easy to do.
Typically the drum department is some afterthought tucked in the back, with 10 kits stacked on the wall, and only one kit on the floor. And don't even think about sitting at it.

To A-B different drum kits you often can see one of them at this shop, and then you'd have to drive across the city to see another kit you like. (not that you'll be able to set it up.)

And since they'll have the stock heads on, and probably never tuned since they left the factory, I'm not sure how much you'll get out of playing them anyways.
& this is why we go to great lengths to provide honest audio capture videos. Yes, not ideal, but what is? A bricks & mortar store with competitive pricing, very knowledgeable staff, a selection of drums from just about every relevant manufacturer across all ranges, facility to A - B any selection you want - good luck with finding that, & if you're in one of the few locations globally that's near such a drum heaven, then great. The reality for many is about as far removed from that as you can imagine, so a combination of sources is the next best thing.

This best describes me. At the end of the day it needs to fit the sound and feel of what I'm after. If it doesn't - no matter how well it's constructed - is totally irrelevant to me.

About 3 weeks ago I played a $1600. snare drum that I wouldn't pay $200. for. Not that it's not an amazing drum to someone else - just does nothing for me. The builder is a highly well known and respected individual. I'm not going to start slamming someone saying it's terrible - it's just not for me.
Nailed it! The value is in the experience, not the drum.

BTW, thanks for the kind words re: myself & Jeff :)
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I pride myself on being a gear head with drums. I never understood when people remained uneducated about the tools of their craft.
Un-educated, no, I don't consider that a good thing. For example, an experienced drummer not knowing the basic sonic difference between 1-ply and 2-ply heads, is under-educated. But a drummer who has figured out that a 2-ply 10-over-7mil combo with a vented sound ring and reverse dot would achieve the optimum sound, is over-educated (and probably wrong.)

There is a wonderful book on this topic called The Paradox of Choice. The basic gist is that more choice is actually much worse for people because the time invested in research to pick the "right" choice is an asset that has value (time) that requires a larger "payback" (happiness) from the item purchased in order for the purchaser to feel satisfied.
That sounds like it applies somewhat. Whether the purchaser actually factors-in their effort varies of course, but an important purcashing decision is still important. But it's not only the time invested, it's often how the buyer attempts to apply the knowledge they have garnered, and sometimes, too much knowledge gets in the way of what would otherwise be a gut - and more correct - decision about the item.

But it occurs to me that being over-educated shouldn't be confused with normal due diligence and a little (or a lot of) research. When I recently decided to get a new vehicle, there were a number of questions that I needed answered before choosing a style, a brand, the options, and even the year*. I did research both from a specification standpoint, to consumer reviews, to asking in a few forums about fellow drummers' experiences, to repeat test-drives and dealer consultations, to verifying state registration and title fees, and legitimacy and limits on dealer fees. But, it's not like I needed a course in automotive theory or business economics in order to arrive at the decisions I did, Being too hung-up on specs or worrying too much about the future of petroleum fuels, would probably get in the way of me choosing a new vehicle at all. Instead, I think I became appropriately-educated about vehicles, at least as they apply to my need to move drums and people in Southern California. And now, I don't think about what I've learned at all... I just drive the car.

And with gear, there are certain requirements I have with regard to use, but in the end, I just play.

Bermuda


* Obviously, a vehicle purchase involves more investment and anticipated longevity than drum products do.
 
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MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Un-educated, no, I don't consider that a good thing. For example, an experienced drummer not knowing the basic sonic difference between 1-ply and 2-ply heads, is under-educated. But a drummer who has figured out that a 2-ply 10-over-7mil combo with a vented sound ring and reverse dot would achieve the optimum sound, is over-educated (and probably wrong.)
I disagree. After 22 years of playing, I know what heads I like and how to tune them to make them sound good and fit my needs, but I don't know anything about their construction, materials, thicknesses, etc., nor do I really care. It isn't that important, because I have done the trial and error over the years and know what works for me. Does that make me under-educated or a poor drummer? No, it does not. It also does not make me uninformed, because the information I NEED has been sorted out over the years.

I am sure we would all be surprised at what "professionals" in any field don't know that we think they should. I'm sure there are NASCAR drivers who don't know anything about mechanics, athletes who know nothing about the equipment they use, construction workers who couldn't tell you how a hammer drill works. Yet all of these folks can do their jobs and do them well with the tools they are given. It isn't about being over or under educated, it's about being able to do what you need with what you have got, and determining over time what works and what doesn't. The amount of education involved with gear is secondary, unless gear is the field you want to go in to.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
You worked in a music store and people regularly came in who had no idea what size there drums were??? I would assume they were buying heads for a family member, I find it hard to believe that a drummer would not be aware of there drum sizes..
He's not kidding.

I worked in music stores for 8+ years.

It happens all the time.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
He's not kidding.

I worked in music stores for 8+ years.

It happens all the time.
I was not questioning the validity of the post, I was just amazed. But it is surely the extreme, a bit like someone saying smoking is not bad for you cos there granny smoked 60 a day and lived to be 99. There is always an exception to the rule. I dont think knowing what size your drums are is over educated. You need to know so you can replace the heads, Its a basic, a need to know.
 

lsits

Gold Member
I think that anyone making a major purchase (and I consider a drum kit a major purchase) needs to make a list of what priorities are most important and then do the research to determine what products meet those priorities. For me the priorities were:

1. Cost. The first thing I did was sit down and figure out just what I needed to buy. I already had a kit and the hardware (stands, pedals, etc) were not really necessary. I also didn't need cymbals, since I already had good quality ones (Zildjian A's). In my opinion, setting a budget should be the highest priority in the decision-making process.

2. Quality. Using the cost parameter, I narrowed my choice to a few of the major brands. Tama, Gretsch, Pearl, Ludwig, and Yamaha. Maybe I missed a few.

3. Looks. I decided early on that I wanted a nice understated finish. My desire was to have a kit that wouldn't look out of place no matter what kind of gig it was in.

4. Reputation. A company that has a reputation of building a quality product and that has good customer service is very important to me. This is where I hit up the gear sites and the forums to see what was being said. (This was my first introduction to Drummerworld. Thanks for the info guys.)

I didn't get caught up in the sizes, materials, bearing edges, configurations, construction techniques, and the like. I didn't even try out the different models. My experience had taught me that a kit set up in Guitar Center or Sam Ash would not have the heads that I preferred, wouldn't have been tuned the way I like, and would not be in an environment I would likely be playing them in. I basically narrowed it down to two kits based on the criteria listed above and then flipped a coin. I'm pleased with my decision. No second guessing.
 

lsits

Gold Member
I think that anyone making a major purchase (and I consider a drum kit a major purchase) needs to make a list of what priorities are most important and then do the research to determine what products meet those priorities. For me the priorities were:

1. Cost. The first thing I did was sit down and figure out just what I needed to buy. I already had a kit and the hardware (stands, pedals, etc) were not really necessary. I also didn't need cymbals, since I already had good quality ones (Zildjian A's).

2. Quality. Using the cost parameter, I narrowed my choice to a few of the major brands. Tama, Gretsch, Pearl, Ludwig, and Yamaha. Maybe I missed a few.

3. Looks. I decided early on that I wanted a nice understated finish. My desire was to have a kit that wouldn't look out of place no matter what kind of gig it was in.

4. Reputation. A company that has a reputation of building a quality product and that good customer service is very important to me. This is where I hit up the gear sites and the forums to see what was being said. (This was my first introduction to Drummerworld. Thanks for the info guys.)

I didn't get caught up in the sizes, materials, bearing edges, configurations, construction techniques, and the like. I didn't even try out the different models. My experience had taught me that a kit set up in Guitar Center or Sam Ash would not have the heads that I preferred, wouldn't have been tuned the way I like, and would not be in an environment I would likely be playing them in. I basically narrowed it down to two kits based on the criteria listed above and then flipped a coin. I'm pleased with my decision. No second guessing.
 

Living Dead Drummer

Platinum Member
I was not questioning the validity of the post, I was just amazed. But it is surely the extreme, a bit like someone saying smoking is not bad for you cos there granny smoked 60 a day and lived to be 99. There is always an exception to the rule. I dont think knowing what size your drums are is over educated. You need to know so you can replace the heads, Its a basic, a need to know.
Right! Basic!!!
It was something that drove me crazy. Yes, if someone was buys heads as a gift or something, I get it. I don't expect my girlfriend to know what size my drums are. But if it's YOUR drums, and you didn't start playing 2 days ago, you should know your gear.
 

uniongoon

Gold Member
What I hate about this site, by the time I get to a thread it is so saturated it is almost futile trying to add an opinion. I myself have always been a gear head, and now I build I find I try to learn more about the raw material itself as opposed to the drum itself. I find a guy with a little bit of knowledge who thinks he has all there is to know is the annoying situation. myself, I am continually learning, there are certain things I am certain about and a lot of things I have a good foundation, but I am always open to be corrected or change my view. I do not know it all. I feel the answer to this thread is do you or I have the ability to honestly assess what our level of knowledge is, and is it solid enough to confidently share with others as fact or assumption.
 
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