Is this thought true for you?

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I have a friend who I graduated high school with who went on to music school, moved to LA, landed a major gig, then moved to Nashville where he tours full-time with national acts and has done multiple appearances on the Tonight Show, SNL, the Today Show, Good Morning America, etc. Needless to say, he's "made it" in terms of getting to play drums full time. I was playing a festival with him a little over a year ago, and we were talking about gear a little bit, and at the festival, he had his choice of backline. Even though he is a Gretsch endorsee, he went with DW (they didn't have a Gretsch kit there). I was playing a different stage, and I was curious as to what kind of kit that I would have.

He said something like this: "All of the stages here will have mid-to-upper-grade kits for every stage, so you should be fine with whatever they have for you." Then he said something that really piqued my interest. He said, "I mean, you get the majority of your signature sound from your cymbals and snare anyways." And you know? I think I buy this idea. Now granted, I play kits where the kick drum is muffled and as long as the toms are tuned, don't have much ring, I'm pretty happy with them. I know there are different nuances I like from my kick and toms, but I guess if I wanted to talk about my "signature sound" (good lord, that sounds silly to me), my snare and cymbals would dictate the most of it. I know, I know, I know...your sound comes from your playing. I get that. However, I think there may be a little something to the gear we choose.

What do you think? Do you feel your "sound" comes from primarily your snare and cymbals?
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Count the number of times you hit the snare, and ride on your cymbals, or crash them, then count the tom hits. I would say we all pretty much rely on these two pieces. I would also say we pay as much for snares as we do for the rest of the drums.
 
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Ronzo

Junior Member
Not sure I agree 100% but...
I remember reading an article in the ealry 80s about Peter Gabriel asking Phil Collins to drum on his album. The one condition Peter had was no cymbals....at all. It would be interesting to understand his thoughts on this. One possibility is he believed PC cymbal playing was too recognizable especially since Peter was trying to distance himself from the Genesis sound.
You would think the bass would be part of a drummer signature as well.
 

Bayou23

Member
Not sure I agree 100% but...
I remember reading an article in the ealry 80s about Peter Gabriel asking Phil Collins to drum on his album. The one condition Peter had was no cymbals....at all. It would be interesting to understand his thoughts on this. One possibility is he believed PC cymbal playing was too recognizable especially since Peter was trying to distance himself from the Genesis sound.
You would think the bass would be part of a drummer signature as well.
+1
 

Mongrel

Silver Member
Not sure I agree 100% but...
I remember reading an article in the ealry 80s about Peter Gabriel asking Phil Collins to drum on his album. The one condition Peter had was no cymbals....at all. It would be interesting to understand his thoughts on this. One possibility is he believed PC cymbal playing was too recognizable especially since Peter was trying to distance himself from the Genesis sound.
You would think the bass would be part of a drummer signature as well.
The band I was in at the time....had an 18 year old vocalist. She tried that on me-"Do you have to play cymbals on EVERY song?! You know Peter Gabriel....."

Not sure whatever happened to her....lol.
 

Ronzo

Junior Member
Yes.

Stewart Copeland comes to mind.
As does Bill Bruford.
Interesting that Copeland gets such a hard snare hit with trad grip.
I dont play trad grip much but the biggest complaint I hear is that it is difficult to get a hard snare hit with trad grip. Common to hear people using trad grip for soft jazz and brushes as well.
Although, he does have a non traditional traditional grip. Lol...yeah its a thing. Only finger on top of stick is index.
Just goes to show you, there will always be exceptions to the rule. Try it all and discover what feels best for you.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
For me, anything that makes a sound is equally-important. So yes, snare and cymbals are important, as are the kick, toms, percussion, etc. Simply adding a personal snare and cymbals doesn't suddenly make a backline kit mine. On the rare occasions that I need backline, I always specify the brand and shell series that I'm familiar with, so I can more easily dial-in the whole kit as desired. Where possible, I also specify the tom heads.

Bermuda
 

trickg

Silver Member
I think I agree with it even though I never really consciously thought about it that way.

I'm not even close to being a pro drummer. I'm a solid drummer who has gained a reputation of sorts for being a short-notice go-to guy to sub in for praise teams near where I live in central Maryland. When I was doing that a lot, I was mostly relegated to using house kits of various quality levels and maintenance. I always took my own "survival kit" of stuff to use:

Snare + snare stand
Cymbals
Throne
Pedals - hat and kick

By doing that, I felt a lot more comfortable than trying to adapt to whatever the house kit had - typically Sabian B8s or Zildjian ZBTs for cymbals, and Lord knows what for pedals and throne. House snares were typically dead and loosely tuned - even if I tuned up the heads, they were often played out by a factor of years. It was easier to swap in mine and get that dialed-in clean crack and fullness of a quality drum that was tuned well.

And my cymbals - particularly my crashes (HHX Studio) ALWAYS sounded way better than any of the house kits sporting cheap B8 cymbals.

There were a few times where I rolled in to a house kit that was set up well with cymbals and I just used those, but I almost alway swapped in my snare anyway.
 

Darth Vater

Senior Member
I don't necessarily agree. I think every piece of the kit contributes to the signature sound of the player. I do prioritize the snare sound I guess. I only have two snares and they're both pretty damn nice. I think people of the mindset that you can get away with a lousy shell pack are kidding themselves. Just my opinion.
 

trickg

Silver Member
I think people of the mindset that you can get away with a lousy shell pack are kidding themselves. Just my opinion.
I guess it depends on the shell pack - most drums, unless they are truly dirt, dirt "cheap", are decent enough to be made to sound good with heads and tuning, provided they are round and the bearing edges aren't terrible, (which can be improved upon with some judicious and careful sanding) but that's another topic for another thread.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
I don't know-I've seen some fantastic drummers make any drum sound good, but I haven't seen a really bad drummer make a great drum sound better. Like I have a really nice high end SONOR and it doesn't make me sound any better dammit.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Yes, I agree with your friend. For your signature sound, I would add the bass drum to the snare and cymbals. Heck I'm hitting the bass drum on almost every 1 and 3.

However, he is probably used to having microphones all over the drums and his sound person adjusting the sound of the drums.
Yeah, come to think of it, what does someone else's sound engineer do to your "signature drum sound"? I'll tell you what they do. They change it into their (the sound engineer's) signature drum sound.

.
 

oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
Also episode 423 about what makes a sound or which part of the drumset is important or whatever, the answer is basically ONLY the drummer..

There are VERY few drummers on this world who will be recognized by, lets say, 1 hit on a snaredrum or tom or cymbal and people will say..: YES thats the set or snaredrum or tom or cymbal from "insert drummer name here"..

In other words, when any of us plays Colaiuta's set during his soundcheck, being blindfolded no one will recognise that set as Colaiuta's set..

But when Colaiuta starts to play, then................................................................
 

Otto

Platinum Member
Hate to say it, some get a signature sound from toms as much as snare/cymbals(e.g. Terry Bozzio especially his playing with Missing Persons...exemplified by 'Mental Hopscotch').

Terry did get away from roto toms but went on to play a set of chromatically tuned toms with very distinctive sound.

As others have said, a greater influence is how they are played. I can ID an average Max Roach tom strike from an average Neil Peart strike easily.

As far as timbre of an average set of toms...I find them relatively uniform based on size once a post production team gets at it...so in the 'industry', I would say the instrument has been neutered to sound uniform instead of saying that most drummers do not have signature tom sound.
 

dwsabianguy

Senior Member
If you use a lot of toms in your playing, then it becomes a big part of 'your sound.' If you don't, then it's not such a factor. I use a lot of toms in my playing and have pissed off FOH engineers by insisting to play my own kit, which is tuned to be very open and tonal, and those toms get used quite a bit. Most backlined kits I've gotten my hands on in the last couple years either haven't been fitted with new heads in several years, or haven't been tuned, or are muffled to thuds, or a combination of those.

Gavin Harrison's tom sound is a big part of his sonic signature. Same goes for Simon Phillips, Danny Carey, and Keith Carlock. And Lars Ulrich absolutely has a signature clicky-yet-fat kick drum sound that nobody else has. But most production teams will just go for 'what sells' which I think is an antithetical approach for making an artful record. Tends to be sterile separated drum sounds, and I'm not into that.
 

Darth Vater

Senior Member
I don't know-I've seen some fantastic drummers make any drum sound good, but I haven't seen a really bad drummer make a great drum sound better. Like I have a really nice high end SONOR and it doesn't make me sound any better dammit.
What kind of Sonor kit do you have?
 

Darth Vater

Senior Member
Which is all good. I just feel that good gear makes you want to play/practice more often and in that sense it's a reason to aspire to having better gear.
 
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