One less tom/cymbal - stripping down kit

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
We just saw the passing of one of the best drummers ever, Peart, and he sure would disagree with less is more, and would Bozzio. There are so many opinions about what feels good or sounds good, that there is no one answer obviously. The snare, floor tom, bass drum is a fad of the past few years, exceptions noted, like so many others. Double bass drums were cool, until the double pedal came along as was so much lighter than a second bass drum. The advantage of drums over trumpets. Lots of choices.
 

DrummerCA35

Senior Member
Hey all,
I’m the OP. Thanks for all the replies. A few thoughts:
  • For sure, I had to be more creative. For example, I had to adapt the intro to “American Band”, the opening fill on “Brick House”, and so forth to work with the 4 piece.
  • Sounds like everyone else prefers the 12” tom; for some reason I prefer the 10”, after having the 10” as my first rack tom for the past 25 years or so. Before that it was 12/13/16 and so forth.
  • As others have posted, it does feel like something is missing by not having that 3rd tom. Just having that one extra tom makes it feel like so much more, and not having it, less.
  • However, NOT having that extra tom made my setup so much more comfortable for MOST of what I was play ing (time). And, it’s great not having that one extra thing to lug.
  • I missed the tom in various openings (as I mentioned) and also in the “bombastic/sustained/trashcan” endings where I might do some 32nd note runs down the toms, quads, etc. Trying to do a Neil Peart 32nd note run with 3 toms is one thing, but with only 2, not as fun. That one extra drums opens up different colors and combinations, obviously.
  • The cowbell mounted on the bass drum was more accessible.
  • Playing “Don’t Stop Believin’” felt like it was missing something, to me, without my 12” rack tom.
  • I kind of felt the whole night I was missing something and/or compensating for something I didn’t have, or coming up with different ideas, which you guys are probably going to say IS THE POINT!
  • I’m thinking of other ideas, such as maybe offsetting the toms to the left, but THAT’s a pain in the ass, and that’s why I got a tom mount for the bass drum. But, if they were offset, then I could probably enjoy the ergonimics on the right side, although now the hihat might have to be pushsed further to the left.
  • You know, even when I hear the greats solo on a four-piece kit It sound kind of repetitive to me sometimes.
  • I am not going the route of a crash/ride, although I’ve always liked the idea of a good crashable ride, but who doesn’t?
  • There are definitely pros/cons. I love the ergonomics of the 4 piece.
 

DrummerCA35

Senior Member
I, too, am subjected to the intro of American Band.
It took me a while to get it down. Due to injuries, I can't do certain things with a single bass drum pedal. But, I can pull the intro off with a double pedal. And given that it took me a while a while to do it, I now love playing the intro to American Band! :) Plus, our singers love it and our audiences too. MORE COWBELL!!! :cool:
 

timmdrum

Silver Member
Well, you're wrong. This is my job man. ;)
It's not wrong. If a non-traditional kit would sound better in bop-style jazz, people would use them. It started with small sizes as a matter of convenience, and now that's still what's associated with it, so that's what people have stuck with. Show me a small-ensemble, non-fusion, bop or similar style jazz drummer who uses Tommy Lee sizes.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
It's not wrong. If a non-traditional kit would sound better in bop-style jazz, people would use them. It started with small sizes as a matter of convenience, and now that's still what's associated with it, so that's what people have stuck with. Show me a small-ensemble, non-fusion, bop or similar style jazz drummer who uses Tommy Lee sizes.
If you recall, I already said jazz musicians typically use smaller sets, and I gave the reason for it.

I don't need to argue with you about why you believe jazz drummers do things. My original point was that whether a set is large or small, it's the same instrument.

It's not a question of “less is more”, it's that it's exactly the same instrument, and it's about what you play on it.

On a 4 piece set with two cymbals or on a ???-piece set with multiple cymbals you've got a bass drum, a snare drum, a hihat, some tom sounds, some crash sounds, some ride sounds. Most of time the extra gradations of tom pitches and cymbal timbres are totally meaningless. It's why you rarely see jazz musicians shlep more than two tom toms to a gig-- even though they solo more, and generally play five times as many notes as the average rock player.
 

timmdrum

Silver Member
If you recall, I already said jazz musicians typically use smaller sets, and I gave the reason for it.

I don't need to argue with you about why you believe jazz drummers do things. My original point was that whether a set is large or small, it's the same instrument.

Heh- well, if you don't need to argue, why did you? :D That ship has sailed, because you already did. I didn't argue your original point, re: same instrument. Next, you stated:

the extra gradations of tom pitches and cymbal timbres are totally meaningless. It's why you rarely see jazz musicians shlep more than two tom toms to a gig-- even though they solo more, and generally play five times as many notes as the average rock player.
...which is an opinion you're entitled to, albeit unsubstantiated when you're speaking on behalf of players other than yourself. Then, I added:

This was actually born out of necessity in the bop era in NYC- the reality of needing kits to be able to fit in a cab.
Meaning, the *original* reason, in bop style at least, is the tradition that's rooted in being able to cart the kit around NYC in a cab, which is a well known fact; neither carting more than 4 pieces nor drums of larger sizes were feasible. I didn't say it's the one & only true reason, for any style. Fusion, big band, and contemporary/smooth jazz drummers have used larger kits (larger sizes and/or more pieces) often, going back to big band days. (I'll also add the note here that tradition is also the reason jazz players solo more, to this day; it's been a staple of the style for ages.) You then stated:

I was telling you why people use them now.
You were actually telling me why *you think* people use them now. "Extra gradiations of tom pitches and cymbal timbres" are *not* meaningless, otherwise, obviously, there wouldn't be drummers of any style who would use them. Then, when I said:

So was I. Tradition. :)
...I oversimplified, which was a mistake. I should've stated that I was reiterating the *origin* of small kits/sizes, not why they *still* use them. But here's where you made it an argument:

Well, you're wrong. This is my job man. ;)
Previously, I'd only added additional information; I never said you were *wrong*, just that there's more to it than your original statement. Your proof that I'm wrong is "This is my job"...?? Well, what about the opinions of those whose job is "working jazz drummer" and also use larger sizes/kits, therefore, they disagree with you? Are they wrong also? Should they conform to your opinion? Weckl, Gadd, & more have used 6 piece kits in jazz. (Weckl's debut album cover shows a 7 piece.) There's even plenty of audio, video, and photo evidence of Elvin playing 5 piece kits from the 70s on.

So if you're trying to say that your statement, re: "meaningless" is the *only* reason they use small kits, I'll now say you're wrong, for two reasons:

1. The very presence of those who use more, mostly in styles other than bop, and
2. The statement, re: tradition, in bop, which is still mostly true. (Even though I'm not familiar with any bop players who use more than 4 pieces and/or larger than traditional bop sizes, I'm sure there's someone out there, so I'm not gonna say it's 100%.)

You're welcome to argue those two points if you want, but you're gonna have to come with something other than "you're wrong". :D Sorry you got bent when your opinion was revealed to not be the only one, and that there was another reason revealed that had basis in fact. My intent was not to burn you, just to contribute more info to the conversation. But when you argue with me with 0 facts and then say you don't wanna argue, I'm gonna finish the argument. :)
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I think you're getting an ear-full on the creativity part, so I won't go there. But what I'm seeing is that you haven't really downsized. If you really want to downsize for ease of transportation and losing the extra weight, lose the double pedal, go down to one cymbal that can be both ride and crash and a pair of hats. You've eliminated one tom, but you're still carrying enough hardware and cymbals that your set-up probably takes just as long to load in and out.

I like using four drums, and when I've looked at what I do, my one 22" Light Ride and a pair of 17" hi-hats is as basic as I need (and you have to have a cowbell). Double-pedal? Never needed one. The music never calls for it. So I can go out and do a five-hour gig with just those essentials and musically make everything happen.

When I go up to three toms, I'll add a thin crash. and instead of using floor stands, I bring out my ICON front rack for the toms and the cymbals.

I can be creative on either, or even less. It almost doesn't matter what music or genre I'm playing. But I think you could lose most of your cymbals and that double pedal, too.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Heh- well, if you don't need to argue, why did you? :D That ship has sailed, because you already did. I didn't argue your original point, re: same instrument. Next, you stated:



...which is an opinion you're entitled to, albeit unsubstantiated when you're speaking on behalf of players other than yourself. Then, I added:



Meaning, the *original* reason, in bop style at least, is the tradition that's rooted in being able to cart the kit around NYC in a cab, which is a well known fact; neither carting more than 4 pieces nor drums of larger sizes were feasible. I didn't say it's the one & only true reason, for any style. Fusion, big band, and contemporary/smooth jazz drummers have used larger kits (larger sizes and/or more pieces) often, going back to big band days. (I'll also add the note here that tradition is also the reason jazz players solo more, to this day; it's been a staple of the style for ages.) You then stated:



You were actually telling me why *you think* people use them now. "Extra gradiations of tom pitches and cymbal timbres" are *not* meaningless, otherwise, obviously, there wouldn't be drummers of any style who would use them. Then, when I said:



...I oversimplified, which was a mistake. I should've stated that I was reiterating the *origin* of small kits/sizes, not why they *still* use them. But here's where you made it an argument:



Previously, I'd only added additional information; I never said you were *wrong*, just that there's more to it than your original statement. Your proof that I'm wrong is "This is my job"...?? Well, what about the opinions of those whose job is "working jazz drummer" and also use larger sizes/kits, therefore, they disagree with you? Are they wrong also? Should they conform to your opinion? Weckl, Gadd, & more have used 6 piece kits in jazz. (Weckl's debut album cover shows a 7 piece.) There's even plenty of audio, video, and photo evidence of Elvin playing 5 piece kits from the 70s on.

So if you're trying to say that your statement, re: "meaningless" is the *only* reason they use small kits, I'll now say you're wrong, for two reasons:

1. The very presence of those who use more, mostly in styles other than bop, and
2. The statement, re: tradition, in bop, which is still mostly true. (Even though I'm not familiar with any bop players who use more than 4 pieces and/or larger than traditional bop sizes, I'm sure there's someone out there, so I'm not gonna say it's 100%.)

You're welcome to argue those two points if you want, but you're gonna have to come with something other than "you're wrong". :D Sorry you got bent when your opinion was revealed to not be the only one, and that there was another reason revealed that had basis in fact. My intent was not to burn you, just to contribute more info to the conversation. But when you argue with me with 0 facts and then say you don't wanna argue, I'm gonna finish the argument. :)
LOL wtf is this. I have NO interest in whatever you're trying to litigate here. Speculate about jazz drumming with someone else please.
 

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Rhythm666

Well-known member
I downsized to a 4 piece because of:
The music I play does not need a big kit
Transport issues and venue issues

You can be equally creative on a big kit as a smaller kit but you have to be a bit more creative on a smaller set up then bigger in my opinion.
 

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Mongrel

Silver Member
Wow.... a whole lot more entertainment value here than in five bass drum pedal threads combined! Lol

Let’s not forget that you can be just as UNcreative on a four piece kit as on a larger kit...
 
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Drumolator

Platinum Member
Right now I am using two toms, bass drum, and snare. For cymbals it is hats, 17" crash, and 21" crashable ride (HHX Evolution). That is about as small as I want to go. Peace and goodwill.
 

NouveauCliche

Senior Member
Go listen to and watch Nate Smith.
He sounds just as good on bigger kits.

You know - After playing on a 4 piece kit for years - I've been stuck with 5 and 6 piece kits on a couple of shows for backline where I only had the chance to change my cymbals and go....I've be really suprised with some of the stuff that is flowing out of me - to the point of speaking to my drum builder about a bigger kit.

I understand that a smaller kit MAKES you find more sounds....but you can still pitch bend toms - and play on the rims - and explore textures on a bigger kit.

Creativity and texture comes from the player - not from the equipment.
 

danondrums

Well-known member
So much “let me interrupt your experience with my enthusiasm” going on with this thread.

Most likely if someone is more creative on a smaller kit it’s because ergonomics are improved or perhaps they get overwhelmed behind a large kit.

Part of every large kit is a 4 piece kit.

It can be fun and inspiring to change up your kit for sure, and it can bring about a change in approach over time, but it’s over time and it’s the change that inspires the creativity, not the subtraction of options. Adding options can have an equal result in inspiration of creativity.

It’s great to inflict change in your kit when you’re feeling restless for sure.
 

philrudd

Senior Member
Honesty is always the best policy: I use a four piece because I wouldn't know what the fuck to do with five.

Ok, that's not completely true, but doesn't so much of this back-and-forth have to do with what KIND of music is being played? And I'm not even talking 'genre,' I'm talking band units. Some rock requires eight toms; some rock require none. I would think that fusion requires a more elaborate setup in general than rock, but I've seen some badass fusion players on a four piece, too.

It's all just so particular...I won't even mention that lately I've been using a 3-piece for about half of my projects...
 

DrummerCA35

Senior Member
I think you're getting an ear-full on the creativity part, so I won't go there. But what I'm seeing is that you haven't really downsized. If you really want to downsize for ease of transportation and losing the extra weight, lose the double pedal, go down to one cymbal that can be both ride and crash and a pair of hats. You've eliminated one tom, but you're still carrying enough hardware and cymbals that your set-up probably takes just as long to load in and out.

I like using four drums, and when I've looked at what I do, my one 22" Light Ride and a pair of 17" hi-hats is as basic as I need (and you have to have a cowbell). Double-pedal? Never needed one. The music never calls for it. So I can go out and do a five-hour gig with just those essentials and musically make everything happen.

When I go up to three toms, I'll add a thin crash. and instead of using floor stands, I bring out my ICON front rack for the toms and the cymbals.

I can be creative on either, or even less. It almost doesn't matter what music or genre I'm playing. But I think you could lose most of your cymbals and that double pedal, too.
What I took off was the 12" rack tom, and one cymbal stand and one china cymbal. Having ANYTHING less to carry makes a difference for me; my hardware bag is lighter without that one extra cymbal stand, and the double pedal is in a separate bag. But you're right, the number of trips is the same with out without those things. The biggest difference was the ergonomics of the kit, for me.

You mentioned losing the double pedal and not needing one. I used to have a single bass drum pedal. I don't have a double pedal just for the sake of blasting out 16th note licks (although I will indulge in that at the end of certain songs, and the audience and band like it). I know I've had some posts about this a while back, but for me, the double pedal and second closed hi-hat are needed, but my situation is FAR from normal. I sustained catastrophic injuries in 2009 leaving me with a severely damaged left (hi-hat) leg, and losing my right (bass drum) leg below the knee. I had to re-learn how to play the bass drum, basically using a combination of my right leg (with a prosthetic), and my left (with little to no ankle movement). What I came up with is to play the bass drum with my prosthetic right leg, OR my left leg using the slave pedal, OR both legs for certain combinations. When using the left leg, I use my second closed hi-hat so I get a tight closed hi-hat sound. I have played and can play entire songs/sets solely with my left leg on the slave bass drum pedal if needed. Certain figures REQUIRE both pedals. I have to play "heel up" on both sides. Certain bass drum licks such as "Walk this Way" require me to use both feet. Certain licks like the intro to "American Band", or certain sections of "Separate Ways" require both feet for me. Or even just a two 32nd notes require two feet. (Before the injuries I could of course play most of these things with one foot). And hey, since I now have a double pedal why not throw in some double bass stuff here and there. Such as the infamous tom/tom/bass drum/bass drum lick done as 16th/32nd notes as the end of songs on a sustained ending, say on "Jump" or something. I've been amazed at the mileage I get out of that old lick from the audiences.

I've thought about doing what you've done...a really stripped down set. But I'm already carrying a cymbal bag anyway, and 16/18/20 is my current minimum. For a while I was going without a ride, but a bass player asked me why the hell I didn't have a ride, for when we were doing "Uptown Funk" for the ride cymbal/bell section towards the end.

Thanks for the ideas and input.
 
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