LOUD brushes. How?

TMe

Senior Member
I see some videos of drummers playing with brushes and getting stick-like sounds. It looks like they're using the same technique they'd use with sticks, and they're getting almost the same sound, just quieter and softer. Usually they're using clear heads, so they're using the brushes to get a distinct drum sound, not a scraping brush sound.

How do they do that?

At first I thought they must be using triggers, but no. Then I thought they were just playing with tremendous snap, but I don't think that's it. No matter how hard I whip the brush, I don't get a sound anything like that.

Now I think they're actually burying the brush into the head, so the end of the handle is hitting the drum head, and most of the volume and articulation is coming from the handle, not the brushes.

Can anyone shed light on this?
 

BertTheDrummer

Gold Member
Thicker brushes maybe? You can get heavier gauge wire brushes, though you sacrifice finesse depending on what you are doing you might want the volume over finesse. Likewise you could grab some nylon brushes as well, which is what I usually use if I'm playing train beats or whatever for country.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
You can get heavier gauge wire brushes, though you sacrifice finesse depending on what you are doing you might want the volume over finesse.
True and true. When I needed a little more from brushes, but not quite the midrange whack of plastic ones, I got the Vic Firth Live Wires. They have a tiny but effective ball at the end of each wire that really gives more bite.

Hmm, new slogan: Vic Firth Live Wires bite! :)

Bermuda
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
True and true. When I needed a little more from brushes, but not quite the midrange whack of plastic ones, I got the Vic Firth Live Wires. They have a tiny but effective ball at the end of each wire that really gives more bite.

Hmm, new slogan: Vic Firth Live Wires bite! :)

Bermuda
I’m definitely getting some of these. There’s a real gap between even very light sticks and brushes that hot rods can’t fill.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
I think you can achieve many of the same sorts of effects as hand drummers can with brushes. Djembes can be very loud. I read the term "duck foot slap" somewhere. I think it also depends on what you mean by loud, legato can be very loud.

I'm not an expert with brushes, but I've been doing lots of the cross stick rim clicks, and I kind of stumbled upon a technique that is really loud, almost as loud as a rim shot. One day when I finished lick the stick and my hand hit the head and rim in just the right sequence. It was like wait a minute... rim clicks aren't supposed to be that loud, so I stopped and tried until I figured out how to do it repeatedly.

I would try sort of a rim shot with the rubber coated handle, maybe move the brush in and out, try different amounts of contact and angles see how that goes.
 

Juniper

Gold Member
With brushes in that scenario I guess some it can depend on your technique and the brushes you use, difficult to judge without a reference video to look at.

However, burying the brush into the head so the handle is somewhat coming into contact with the head does give you a loud projection like you have mentioned so, guessing maybe, it could well be that technique you've heard.
 

Roadydad

Senior Member
Another thing to explore, is the Steve Gadd brushes. The end of the brushes are bent, which gives you more brush contact on the head. It does give you a thicker sound, the draw back is when your scraping, your hands have to be higher, if you happen to lower your hands, the brush ends will catch in each other, and that's very bad news.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
I really like the Steve Gadd brushes. I don't have a problem with brushes and drums being loud enough but I can't get crap for sound with brushes on cymbals-hi hats or ride. I'll flip it and use the metal sliding grip or rubber of brush handle to hit high hats and it's Ok but ride I get squat. I think pressing down too hard on the head stifles it-it's a fairly light touch that resonates loudest it seems. Or if you want loud don't brush it just pop it with the brush. A nice trick I do for a one hand single stroke roll with a brush is resonate it on the head. Just like if you were holding the brush upright in hand and then holding brush steady but start micro shaking it trying to get the wires whisking ,resonating , whacking back and forth fast - just do that on the head (sounds great). It's like a natural spring.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
I really like the Steve Gadd brushes. I don't have a problem with brushes and drums being loud enough but I can't get crap for sound with brushes on cymbals-hi hats or ride. I'll flip it and use the metal sliding grip or rubber of brush handle to hit high hats and it's Ok but ride I get squat. I think pressing down too hard on the head stifles it-it's a fairly light touch that resonates loudest it seems. Or if you want loud don't brush it just pop it with the brush. A nice trick I do for a one hand single stroke roll with a brush is resonate it on the head. Just like if you were holding the brush upright in hand and then holding brush steady but start micro shaking it trying to get the wires whisking ,resonating , whacking back and forth fast - just do that on the head (sounds great). It's like a natural spring.
Yeah, the wire is useless. I don't like the idea of wire on cymbals. I wrapped mine with cloth so that I can do mallet rolls.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
I often use brushes for train style beats for songs like ‘They call me the breeze’ and ‘Faith’ by George Michael.

I play every accent in this style as a rimshot, with the rubber handle of the brush pushed into the rim as the wires slap down. It also works on toms and floortoms, to get a loud, low pitched boom. As someone mentioned, the wrist action is very similar to playing djembe or congas.

For a less loud backbeat I’ll push the brush hard into the middle of the drum so the handle hits the drumhead. Works well for rockabilly beats too.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
rim shots and whip strokes. Since there's flexibility in the "stick"/brush, the term whip becomes even more applicable.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
Yeah, the wire is useless. I don't like the idea of wire on cymbals. I wrapped mine with cloth so that I can do mallet rolls.
I got over the wire on cymbal issue last night. You can get a bomba or guiro type sound on a Zildjian A with the ridges. How enthusiastic can you get with that, and not damage the cymbal? I know brass is harder than steel, so it should withstand some scraping.
 

Skyking

Senior Member
I'm the last guy to ask, but wouldn't a video be miked, especially one using brushes? And if not why not? A mike should pick up the nuances. Then there is the sound engineer and his board? Miking drum sets and mixing them can make beautiful sounds.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I find it pretty funny people are worried about brush sticks "scratching" cymbals. You guys are too much sometimes.

No, that's not how it works.
 

TMe

Senior Member
rim shots and whip strokes. Since there's flexibility in the "stick"/brush, the term whip becomes even more applicable.
I think I'm getting it. I'm using a sharp whipping motion, and only letting the very tip of the brushes hit the head, sort of like flicking a wet towel, and that seems to be doing the trick. It takes a lot of energy to play like that, though. On the ride cymbal I'm whipping the brushes in a way that would be massive overkill if I were using sticks. To get a softer, quieter drum sound I'm actually expending a lot more energy than if I were playing with sticks. It's an interesting sound. I like it a lot better than hot rods.

This might be a good workout for me. I can wail away on the drums without driving the neighbours completely mental.
 
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Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Additionally practicing with brush sticks as if they were regular trains you to do your work without stick rebound. It's all about the wrist and whip.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
You crack that whip-just like a rattlesnake tail. I think my brush touch is improving cause I've moved to nylon brushes and still get a great sound, except cymbals dagnabit. I cut off the tips of some wood sticks and duck taped on my brushes but it isn't stiff enough to work well on cymbals. I love brushes much better than rutes, hotrods, etc. but I end up playing hi hat with foot and not bother with brushes on cymbals.
 
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