Played with a Throne Butt Kicker for the First Time

TTNW

Pioneer Member
I played with a new group last night for the first time and the drummer I sat in for had a Butt Kicker mounted on his throne.

It was fantastic. I could feel every thump from every stroke in the seat and my wife said that she thought my playing seemed much tighter than in other situations I get thrown into.

I think that one of these gizmos is going to be my next gear purchase. It's like now that I've tried one, I've got to have it.

Any brands that any of you would recommend or suggest I stay away from?
 

TTNW

Pioneer Member
Haha. I don't know about silly. A lot of drummers that play in large venues and other scenarios that have a different monitor mix from venue to venue use them.

I've heard about them for years but have never tried one.

I don't know about the gimmick factor but it is a bit of a luxury drum gear item.
 

Les Ismore

Platinum Member
I think 'sadistic' is the word, it can be addictive, you can always turn it off though.

The thing needs an external amplifier to work, cords, set-up. All the extra stuff to cary could add-up to one deciding just to leave the beating chores to a partner.
 

MusiQmaN

Platinum Member
I had some experience with it.

It started with a buttkicker from Fisher Amp. It was nice but nothing special because it mounted at the throne's base and not itself.

After a few years I was invited by Swiss Chris (at the time the drummer and MD for John Legend) and he had the original ButtKicker witch was very powerfull and connected to the throne directly:


Mannn on full power you even felt it a few meters away from the riser.

The advantage for me was that I could silence my in-ear to a nice level and still feel the kick/bass/other low freq's.

So for the ears sake i would say YES YES YES.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I've been a ButtKicker user/lover/endorser for over 7 years, and I suppose it's easy for anyone who's not familiar with it to regard it as a gimmick. Also, they're not to be confused with any of the shakers and thumpers that have been out in the past, and were highly inefficient by comparison. ButtKicker is a pro-level, serious kicker.

I've always had it/them attached to the seat, never on the stand:



Yes, there are two on there, but not because a single one is inefficient. On the contrary, one is plenty for most drummers. But I've always kept two on two throne tops, because I run them hard and they have a thermal switch that shuts them down for 15-20 minutes if they overheat. It eventually dawned on me to just mount two on one seat, and simply switch over the cable when necessary. Then I figured out it was simpler still to bridge the two so they'd never overheat... and I've not had any issues since.

I send only the kick to the ButtKicker, with a gated signal so that other sounds like low end or snare hits don't thump me, run onto a crossover to focus the thump, and a Crown K2 amp, which has plenty of power for them.

I absolutely love mine.

Bermuda
 

TTNW

Pioneer Member
I've been reading up on these transducers and I have a few questions.

The rig I played on did not have the kick signal coming back to the ButtKicker from the board. It utilized a trigger on the bass drum that ran directly to the ButtKicker.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to poke around and check out the whole set up.

Besides "feeling" my kick drum placement with what I can hear and foot-feel, I truly enjoyed physically feeling the thump to reinforce my feel for precision (the bass drum was very boxy sounding and was very muddy in the mix)

Would the ButtKicker Mini Concert set up with the appropriate amp and trigger be adequate? I can get this unit for about $100, so it wouldn't really be an extravagant purchase. I think the units you're using are about $700 each.

Bermuda, how does your help you in playing situations? Is it more about the thump for when you can't hear well or for other reasons?
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Is your own bass drum connected to what does the shaking or the bass guitar....???

The reason I ask is because if you are off rhythm how would this keep your playing tight when you are feeling your own rhythm, and if it is the bass guitar and he is off how would this help? It would seem to me it would work fine if it was connected to a click or metronome....
 

TTNW

Pioneer Member
Well I don't have very much experience with this so I'll leave it up to Bermuda, but I think it helps with when you can't hear your bass drum very well in the mix and you want more than foot-feel.

It's great to kick that drum and feel the thump in the seat.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
The rig I played on did not have the kick signal coming back to the ButtKicker from the board. It utilized a trigger on the bass drum that ran directly to the ButtKicker.

Bermuda, how does your help you in playing situations? Is it more about the thump for when you can't hear well or for other reasons?
I'm not sure how triggering the ButtKicker works. I use the kick's audio send from my mixer with audio, so there's dynamics as well as the vibe of the kick. If it's tightly padded, there's a concise thump, if there's any resonance or decay, that also translates.

The purpose is to use it as a monitor for a very intimate, accurate, and undeniable sense of the kick, which for me is the heart of the groove. I went beyond physical monitors about 10-15 years ago when they simply got out of hand because I wasn't hearing/feeling enough kick. My own monitors were competing with foh, and that's not good. They were blowing everyone else away, except me. I was too close to actually benefit from the wave the monitors were generating, and smaller more 'efficient' monitors didn't give me enough of what I wanted: to really feel the kick.

Granted, I've been playing some large venues and hitting hard, so the kick has to be the most present aspect of my mix. Not sheer volume, but the 'loudest' thing to me. With a ButtKicker, I pretty much become the kick, and can tell with compklete accuracy how my dynamics are, and where each beat is placed, without clogging my headphone mix further with a loud kick. I do hve some kick click in my phones, and that makes for a very complete kick sensation. Also, I run only the kick in my seat. I don't need to feel the bass or have it make other thumps in my seat when I'm not also playing them. that's a personal preference of course, but that's part of what makes the kick so perfect for me.

I'm sure I don't have to explain how crucial a mix is to one's performance. Imagine playing drums, and even having the tactile sensation of making contact with heads, your foot feeling when the hats close, etc... but you can't hear any of it. Could you play well? No - you have to hear what you're playing. Obviously that's an xtreme example, but anything in between a greatt mix and not being able to tell what you're doing is a hindrance to your performance. Because of the kick's lower frequency and generally poor monitor situations, the kick is usually the least-heard of all the drums, so it needs the most help to balance it in the mix. Perhaps I prefer it a bit 'louder' than most, and the ButtKicker has been the only way to achieve that without huring my ears, the ears of others, and the overall mix of the band.

No, it's not for every situation. I don't really miss it in most club situations, because I'm not playing so hard that I can't hear the kick. And yes, a ButtKicker and amp are an added expense. But it's a pro-level piece of gear that's become indispensable to those who demand more kick in their 'mix' for a better performance.

Bermuda
 

TTNW

Pioneer Member
Great post Bermuda. Thanks.

Since my last post I found out that the unit I was using had a ddrum trigger routed through an old Simmons drum module running to the ButtKicker.

This set up allows for being able to feel the transducer when playing in smaller rooms where the kit is not mic'd. So in essence it functions more like the more inexpensive throne shakers that are out there.

Since I don't have the monitor requirements that you do and I don't play in larger venues, I don't think I need to go with the higher end models of the ButtKicker.

I think I'm going to look for the Mini Concert model for around $100 bucks and experiment with the trigger/drum module set up. I'll pick up an inexpensive power amp and I can borrow a friends TD7 and see how it works and feels.

I really appreciate the more personal and subtler aspects of your comments. They really helped better understand the benefits, especially since I have only played with a set up like this once.
 

Les Ismore

Platinum Member
BUTTKICKER concept for drums is still a work in progress IMO.

Would love to see an integrated throne/seat top using the same concept of vibrational feedback.

A 'club' version wouldn't need to be that powerful, just enough.

A class D amp with a pre, using the signal from a (kick) mic... all 21st century doable.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
BUTTKICKER concept for drums is still a work in progress IMO.

Would love to see an integrated throne/seat top using the same concept of vibrational feedback.
Not so much in progress, as already in place for several years. In the 7 years I've been on board with them, there haven't been any changes - they got it right the first time. Whether everyone needs a ButtKicker is another matter, as everyone requires a little something different for their personal comfort level when playing, and the particular gig dictates how precise that level needs to be.

I know what you mean by "vibrational feedback", but the ButtKicker doesn't simply vibrate. there's a piston inside, house in liquid, and it kicks accordingly when the source (kick drum) sends a signal. It's like having someone hit you every time you step on the pedal, but it's a completely dynamic - and less painful - situation.

Might be cool to have something built into a seat with a simple input jack, that would make a personal kicker more accessible for more drummers. But there's still the amp and signal issues. It wouldn't work if there wasn't a mixer with a send for the kick, meaning it wouldn't be usable whenever the kick wasn't miked in the first place. Unless the drummer wants to bring his own 'rig' just for the sake of feeling the kick better.

Please understand that I'm not going on about this because I endorse the product. I just want to make sure people know what it is and why it's different before making judgements about whether it works or is necessary for them. It does work, and while it's not an absolutely necessary piece of gear, it sure makes monitoring drums a lot better!

Bermuda
 

TTNW

Pioneer Member
It wouldn't work if there wasn't a mixer with a send for the kick, meaning it wouldn't be usable whenever the kick wasn't miked in the first place. Unless the drummer wants to bring his own 'rig' just for the sake of feeling the kick better.

Bermuda
Running a trigger signal through a drum module to a ButtKicker will get it done without the bass drum being mic'd. It won't allow you to get the more layered monitoring that you use by combining it with your in-ear monitor mix. It will however get the thump to the seat and then if you use it in mic'd up set ups you can also send a kick mic signal back from the board to the ButtKicker to achieve the results you detailed in your set up.

For $279, I can get a Simmons drum module with two 9" pads and two triggers.
$100 for the ButtKicker and all I have to find is an inexpensive amp and I can put together a ButtKicker rig and add two pads to my set up for other sounds (i.e. hand clap, or whatever)
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Running a trigger signal through a drum module to a ButtKicker will get it done without the bass drum being mic'd.
Yes, you could do that and bypass the mixer and such, but if you use a cheap amp, it's going to crap out under the load. Low end signals need a lot of power, otherwise you'll end up with a weak ButtKicker system and wonder why it doesn't feel great.

Bermuda
 

TTNW

Pioneer Member
Good to know.

Any suggestions on amps. That Crown amp that you referred to.. ..is it overkill for what I need?

Thanks again for your feedback. I really do appreciate it.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
My Crown amp is older, a K2, and I'm not sure if it's even made anymore. But it's basic rating is 950 or 1200 watts or something like that, and I've failed to damage either ButtKicker in 7 years of using them. So the amp itself is not overkill.

What really matters is how intimate you need to be with your kick, and where you can draw the line between gigs that really require that extra punch. The ButtKicker isn't about having a little more reinforcement, it's an important link in the monitoring chain for those who need a lot of kick. You could adjust the level to wherever you want it of course, but it's a real commitment if you're not going to go all the way with it. Guitammer (the parent company) offers some other versions that are better suited for lower volume situations.

A few other things you need to know specifically about their Concert model...

The system won't work well if you like an open or resonant kick. You'll just get a lot of rumble, and very little sense of impact or where the beat is. I'm not suggesting you pad up the kick just to get a tight kick in the butt, although if that's how your kick is already, you're going to be thrilled! I suppose if you simply triggered the batter head through a module and used a tight kick to drive ButtKicker, that would accomplish the same thing.

Also, other sounds can set-off the ButtKicker, even the snare being hit hard, and you'll be thumped each time. Perhaps that gives a sense of every hit, but it also gets a little annoying when all you really want is kick. For miking, the signal to the ButtKicker should be gated, so only the kick opens it up. With a trigger, the sensitivity can be adjusted to help with extraneous signals, but that may also affect the dynamics of the kick. That is, if you're playing ghost notes, they may fall below the sensitivity and not register in the seat.

And, they work best when attached directly to the seat, which means you have to have enough space to mount it. A smallish round seat isn't going to work, although most saddle seats and cannister thrones will be just fine. For the smaller seats, the company offers a mounting plate that goes under the throne seat's mount and the ButtKicker hangs off the back of it. But with either method, the unit becomes somewhat permanent. You could remove and attach it for every gig, but that gets old if you're working even a few times a week.

As I mentioned above, this is a commitment.

Bermuda
 

Les Ismore

Platinum Member
Keep in mind BUTTKICKER wasn't designed 'specifically' for the drum throne, its been adapted to it. It does what it does well, but its not totally practical for the drum stool by 2011 standards.

21 century technology can easily create an integrated seat/top unit, one with its own pre and power amp able to trigger off a mic signal, or better yet off a mechanical trigger on the pedal itself like the AXIS design. Under seat mounted adjustable gain/sensitivity controls, one (power) cord etc. Air conditioning, cup holder, maybe even a flip-out chromatic tuner display as available options, all doable.

So yeah, IMO the concept of mechanical feedback on the stool is still a work in progress.
 

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bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
That photo illustrates an alternate method for mounting the unit, but certainly not preferred. I can understand that judging the ButtKicker by that mounting suggests that the kick won't be very strong, and it's not. It's still really nice, but for the best result (and where possible,) the unit needs to be mounted directly to the seat.

For those who've tried it and didn't absolutely love it, it's very possible that it wasn't set-up correctly, in the same way that if a drum isn't tuned well, it's easy to dismiss it as a bad drum. I tried Pearl's 'kicker' at NAMM - some have said it's OEM'd by the ButtKicker folks - and it was just an embarrassment. Barely a vibration from it, yet touted as an invaluable addition to electronic and acoustic kits. Well, I was certainly one of the guys saying how bad it was, and in hindsight, I realize it was probably not set-up correctly. Such items that aren't demonstrated properly are a real disservice to the companies that make them, and I think that's happening with the ButtKicker for those who perhaps tried one that wasn't set-up correctly, or read too much into a photo.

Seriously, the ButtKicker is the ultimate answer for those who need to feel more of their kick, but it's also not for everyone. Please don't feel that I'm trying to 'sell' anyone on it, I just want everyone to understand what it does before making judgments. I might be the only one here who owns and uses the ButtKicker, and I hope my experiences using it on various kicks over the last 7 years will be regarded as helpful.

Bermuda
 
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TTNW

Pioneer Member
Well it took me a month, but I finally put together my Buttkicker rig.

I decided to wait and save a little more money and purchase all the items online to save a bit. I had to go to a gaming and audio video store hear in Atlanta to demo the unit and it wasn't installed on a drum throne. It was a couch and recliner chair set up with four Buttkickers installed to demonstrate the low frequency benefits integrated with a high end surround sound audio video set up. It was very impressive but not a good representation of the control you have when you play a bass drum pedal. Plus it thumped with the concert dvd on bass drum and bass notes.

So I got the Buttkicker Mini-Concert with the mounting plate for my Roc n Soc throne.
I got a Crown XLS1500 amp and a couple of cables I needed too. I couldn't wait to set it up and test it out. I sent my kick drum mic signal back out of my mixer and fired it up. After a bunch of fiddling, I was pretty disappointed in the results.

It became quite obvious right away that the bass drum note duration was pretty long. Even after I muffled the crap out of my bass drum, the thump and feel was a little muddy and didn't seem to have the attack I remembered when playing with one the first time.
I don't have any compression or more importantly gating on my kick mic signal so I realized that I would need a few more electronics to get it right. Since I'm not spending any money right now on any recording gear and I really only want the Buttkicker for the thump, I decided to set up a trigger rig for the Buttkicker.

I got a great deal on a Simmons E kit pack from Guitar Center. It comes with their cheapest bottom of the line drum module, two pads and two triggers and cabling for $279. Not bad since I could integrate the pads into my kit if I want for effects.
When I got this set up and adjusted I was still experiencing some of the same muddiness as before but when I picked one of the more electronic and clicky bass drum sounds on the module the Buttkicker immediately perked up and produced a tight thump in the seat. Some of the Roland type synthy drum sounds, I guess, are shorter than others and that was the key to overcoming the gating issues of setting off the Buttkicker with a kick mic signal.

When I started upping the power to the Buttkicker it got better and better. It totally works better when running close to full power.

Remembering Bermuda's advice, I started getting worried after a few hours of playing if the thing would shut off if I ran it too long close to full power. My drums are set up in my basement which has a carpeted concrete floor. Usually my wife says she can barely hear of feel the bass drum upstairs. She actually poked her head in the first day I had it set up with the trigger rig and was looking at me like, WTF?

You could feel it 5-10 feet away in your feet and I had her stomp the pedal for a while and you could definitely feel it a little upstairs through the house and floor.

Remember you don't hear anything. You only feel the bass.

Using the triggered electronic kick sound is cleaner because there is nothing bleeding into the kick mic and since I don't have it gated to overcome this I get the same benefit of the improved kick drum monitoring. I don't play big shows, so I usually deal with having to play my drums unmic'd and a little louder than I prefer to sit in the mix properly. Often I have a hard time hearing myself, especially my kick drum.

I've always relied on foot feel, like we all do regardless, in placing my kick drum notes when I can't hear my bass drum very well.

It is such a difference. It doesn't take long at all to get used to the ass smack it gives you and it immediately boosted my confidence that my kick placement was nice and tight. Especially on busier beats and funkier stuff.

The amp was the most expensive part of the rig and I can definitely see the whole set up as one of the first things I would leave behind and not pack up for small gigs or when you don't want to bring a larger set up.

The Buttkicker adds bulk and weight to my throne but the amp is the real pain. Having a small rack for it or a case is no big deal but you still have to put it somewhere. Some of the places I play, the stage is so small that bringing a larger kit much less and amp that I have to have sitting next to or behind me isn't practical.

Thanks to Bermuda for the great insight and advice. I absolutely love it.

I'm telling you. You play with one and you will want one.
 
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