Playing smaller rooms and softer music...

justadrummer

Junior Member
I'm playing more gigs in small rooms and playing softer styles of music. After using Vic Firth 5a sticks for several years, I'm switching to Vic Firth 7a sticks. It's a bigger change than I gave it credit for.
 

newoldie

Silver Member
I'm also starting to play quieter venues, have been using VF Weckl sticks for a long time- can you elaborate on what you've experienced switching to a lighter stick in terms of playing, the sounds, textures, how it accompanies the other instruments, comparatively speaking to the heavier sticks?
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
Try O rings and smaller sized drums too.

VF are the heaviest 7A's - I find all other brands of &A's to be thinner and lighter, if that's what you want.
 

Bonzo_CR

Silver Member
You could also try the AJ5 - super light stick but still 16" long.
I use 5A's (Zildjian) for everything, except when it's just too small a room, in which case I use AJ5's.
I also like the dry, woody stick sound of the tip.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
I used 5B and 5As for years but transitioned to 7As playing some quiet jazz gigs. I've never tried an 8A stick. When you practice with a 5B and go to a 7A they seem to player faster-easier, and quieter. However I started getting all kinds of hand problems-I've never had in decades of playing. So I moved to practice with 2B to see if it help with my hands-which the problems did finally resolve. Now I use a 5A for everything. What I discovered "for me" is I can play quiet with any of them really-but thin and too light was giving "my" hands problems for some reason (I think unconsciously I grip the 7A harder or something-because it's so thin and light. I also would play with a stick and brush for quiet stuff-the stick for better cymbal definition and the brush works great on snare-you can pop it and brush it.
 

Chollyred

Senior Member
I'm with GetAgrippa...I used 5As for years, then tried 7As. Just too thin for my ham fists. Playing hard rubber e-pads I have to use an extremely light grip. I found myself trying to hit too hard and dropping sticks far too often. Switched to 2Bs and let the sticks do the work. A lot fewer drops. On my acoustic drums, I like the 5As better.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I used 5B's for a long time, then 5A's. Now? Vic Firth 7A's, and I really like them. I use them for outdoor sets as well. I just mic up my drums.

I get more gigs playing quieter, smaller gigs and stages than I do big and loud stages. You might want to pick up some AJ5's, Hot Rods, and some brushes while you are at it. Also, if you have to get some brushes, don't skimp and get the cheapies. I invested in some Regal Tip fixed brushes, and I love them. I store them in the container they came in and they fit in my stick bag. I use all of these different kinds of sticks quite a bit in smaller, tighter venues. Bands will love you whenever you go into a venue and you are able to play to just about any room.

If you are having difficulty adjusting, I suggest getting some Pro Mark Stick Rapp or the Vater version (I think I like the Vater version a little better). This really helps me a lot when playing with smaller sticks because they can feel weird in your hands. Now that I've been using it, I can't play without it.

Quieter gigs can be a lot of fun. I really enjoy them.
 

No Way Jose

Silver Member
I switch to brushes if I have to be quieter. Or cajon. Maybe just tambourine.
 
P

Peedy

Guest
I tend to use multiple grip styles with even those modified to fit the needs of the music.

I’m certainly no pro as just a church player. But modern church music often ranges from a slow soft ballad with cymbals only, to near metal intensity and everything in between - all in one five song set. So the need to play what the song requires is even stronger than normal.

My central point is that with a bit of practice you could play Ralph Hardimons softly if you needed to. That way you get to use the sticks that feel natural to you while your band gets the output they feel they need.

Pete
 
Last edited by a moderator:

lefty2

Platinum Member
You could also try the AJ5 - super light stick but still 16" long.
I use 5A's (Zildjian) for everything, except when it's just too small a room, in which case I use AJ5's.
I also like the dry, woody stick sound of the tip.
I've been using the AJ fives also for quiet rehearsals and gigs. I love them
 

Drumolator

Platinum Member
I recently moved to a different, smaller church. The set there is twenty year old Pearl Export. In order to keep the volume down, I am putting Evans hydraulics on the tops of the toms and coated G1's on the bottoms. I am also using smaller sticks. Peace and goodwill.
 

roncadillac

Member
I'm playing more gigs in small rooms and playing softer styles of music. After using Vic Firth 5a sticks for several years, I'm switching to Vic Firth 7a sticks. It's a bigger change than I gave it credit for.

All I use are 7a sticks, for any and everything (non brush of course). I started this journey with the Vic 7a and found it way too short. When I switched to a longer 7a with a ball tip (Vater or Zildjian for example) I was able to almost immediately find their varied use, the longer length and pronounced articulation of the ball tips help me in louder situations while the overall light weight allows me to hover under the mix whenever needed.

If you want to try this concecpt on the cheap, try the Sound Percussion 7a as they are factory seconds of the Vater Manhattan 7a and available for under $5 a pair, their funk stick sits between a 7a and a 5a and has a beefier shoulder as well as a larger barrel tip so that may also be up your alley.
 

Michaelj

Member
I've found the Vic Firth SD4 works for me for quieter stuff. It's maple, barrel tip, and plays really gently, but it's thick, so doesn't have that problem 7As might in terms of the grip. I really like it. Only issue is it's a fairly short stick. My standard stick is the extreme 5a, so it can make for a funny switch to go to the shorter stick (although it's never been a huge problem). I'm keen to check out one of the new modern jazz collection sticks, which is similar specs (barrel tip, maple), only longer.
 

picodon

Silver Member
But what if you get carried away? :) You start the sing at ppp and finish at ff. Can you play ppp with enthusiasm? I guess it's something one can work on.
 

Michaelj

Member
Does no one just alter their technique? When the room is really quiet, I’ll go to brushes (if it’s musically feasible) , but other than that, I don’t change sticks, or heads, or tuning. My drums are wide open and soft or loud I want them to sound nice and full. So my volume control is in my hands and feet.

A great point, Bo. You're right, ultimately it should come down to technique. I'm also skeptical that switching sticks will make a huge db reduction, anyway. For me it's probably more that the maple gives a 'softer' sound on the cymbals, rather than quieter, if that makes sense. And I think having those sticks which I consider 'quiet' in my hands just helps to keep me more aware in those situations where I need to avoid getting too carried away, as picodon says.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
But what if you get carried away? :) You start the sing at ppp and finish at ff. Can you play ppp with enthusiasm? I guess it's something one can work on.
Yes. I can play ppp with enthusiasm. I've worked on it for years - or at least since 1978 when I heard the Chick Corea album, Friends. I was 11 or 12 then, and just discovered Steve Gadd the year before when my sister brought home Steely Dan's Aja, and lo and behold, I find Steve Gadd on this Chick Corea album too. If you want to hear a master play soft and cook at the same time, check that album out. I was in awe and inspired at the same time, and as I grew up playing for things like show choirs, I got to put a lot of that quiet cooking Steve Gadd stuff to use early on and actually gained a lot of work because I could cook underneath a choir without blowing them out. I know a lot of people here don't think they're that good enough and things seem impossible to learn - but I think it has everything to do with what you listen to. When you hear what the masters are capable of in a lot of musical contexts, you stop thinking things are impossible and do your best to emulate that.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Playing ppp...I don't worry about enthusiasm. Thinking I have to be enthusiastic during a ppp section...might even hamstring my playing. ppp...is supposed to be soft. It's OK to be soft without being enthusiastic. It works. It's all about discipline, playing soft. I just focus on the timing of the notes, landing them right, because I'm already at the bottom of my dynamic range. IMO the only actual problematic difference between playing hard and playing soft is in the mind of the drummer. I'd say that most drummers, myself included, think (or thought) that playing soft equates to being boring. WRONG! That is one of the biggest mental pitfalls out there that I have encountered, by far. As long as the time isn't rushing or dragging...which is hugely important, no energy is lost. I feel a different kind of energy, a more mature energy, is actually gained. Like OK, here's a new gear range to explore.

Playing soft, just regular ole playing at low volumes...even without enthusiasm....IS EVERY BIT AS EXCITING AS PLAYING AT FFF! Anyone who wants to challenge that statement will get a lively debate from me. It's like cruising down the strip at 10 miles an hour in a completely badass car. I know it's badass, everybody else knows it's badass, and it is badass, even at 10 miles an hour. People get a better look at it going slow than fast. There are upsides to playing soft! It's a security thing when it gets all boiled down. Playing soft without thinking I have to add something...like enthusiasm for instance... is a sign of deep security. Believe me, I know, I've been on both sides. I used to be all about insecurity and I thought I had to work at 110% at all times. For decades. I could not have been more misguided. Now, I just smile and play the notes. It always comes out with enough of what's supposed to be there, even really soft, so I'm just not concerned about that particular non-issue time sink anymore. I'm secure in the knowledge that when I play soft, no excitement is lost. Period. In fact, a brand new energy sprouts up. Playing soft is killer effective at times. Like whispering instead of shouting. I attribute this knowledge to recording and listening back to every gig. There's no way I could have known this stuff if I wasn't able to hear my work from a distance, and in context.

I find it challenging to use only a small percentage of my abilities to get the job done. It's counter-intuitive to feel that something is more challenging to play soft than hard. If I can play it hard, I can play it soft, right? No, not right. Playing soft takes more discipline by far.
 
Last edited:

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
You could also try the AJ5 - super light stick but still 16" long.

That's my go-to 'quiet' stick! The length gives it a natural feel, but the lighter weight and thinness produce less attack. But they're also durable enough to get louder when needed.

My only issue with them is not being available with a nylon tip. It's not so much the sound difference, but the wood tips 'chip' and the sticks become useless before their time. I don't recall ever breaking an AJ5, but I've had to toss dozens of 'good' sticks because of the tips. Not Vic Firth's fault, that's just the nature of wood tips.

Bermuda
 

ottog1979

Senior Member
When needing to play softer but not go to brushes or stick bundles, I alter my technique, of course, but also use Boso Natrual 5B bamboo drumsticks. https://www.bosodrumsticks.com/
I find these are great at taking 20-25% of volume off playing almost automatically. Check them out.
 
Top