Point of diminishing return when playing hard

konaboy

Pioneer Member
Was having a conversation with a talented drummer from the John Reuben band tonight when he finished playing. Was really impressed with his playing and versatility and the fact for a hip hop/r&b artist he plays mostly traditional (they were opening for Superchick) I commented to him on his style, feel and the fact he wasn't just bashing the crap out of the kit. We got to talking about heavy hitting and he made a comment that after more thought I think is true. There is a point where you hit so hard you actually start losing volume. As Superchick was playing I was focused on the drummer (surprise there) and he was absolutely wailing on the cymbals on a couple songs and honestly he lost the tone and to a degree the volume from the cymbals because he was hitting so hard. When he dialed the bashing back to what could be considered a regular/reasonable playing the cymbal's sound opened up and sounded nice.

Not to mention how much additional energy is expended by playing harder and the bigger chance of losing the beat because you are creating such a large space between hits.

Just something to think about and have discussion on.
 

jake_larson

Senior Member
I think that is true. You can only hit so loud before it sounds bad. My drum teacher is a great player and can be extremely loud but his sticks dont go very high and he does not bash it he plays it.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
This is absolutely true. When you play a drum or cymbal too loud, the extra energy actually starts to choke the sound.
 

moqtev

Member
I agree - I work as a mixingengineer and find it much harder to get good bassdrum and snaresound when the drummer is hitting hard. At the moment I'm mixing a live concert DVD recorded in a pretty big place. Drummers tend to hit the drums much harder in big places so the snare and kick loses tone. When I'm playing drums I try to practice playing the kick and snare softly even when the track is hard. This is also true with accoustic guitars, bass etc.

Morten
 

Neil

Senior Member
Being restrained i.e not beating the s**t out of my drums is one of things I'm trying hard to work on, the adrealine of playing a show usually means I play too hard and am not concentrating on what I'm doing.

For instance, I noticed the other night that I was really struggiling to get my single stroke roll to sound correct. Suddenly, I realised my arms were 6-7 inches above the snare and I was having to move my forearms to get the strokes in, I usually only use my wrists and fingers. As soon as I dropped my arms closer, the stroke sounded even; dynamically and volume.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I like to watch drummers that hit hard. I used to hit very hard myself.

But even so, I've seen some guys take to an extreme where you do noticed the drums are cymbals are choking from just being hit too hard. And that point it's just silly.
 

MLdrum

Senior Member
It also depends a bit on what you hit.. I.ex. a 15" Paperthin Crash will choke before a 20" Heavy Crash..

But, yes I think as you guys too. The equipment can only be hit "that" hard before it loses that great sound. Although some drums/cymbals sounds a bit better in some settings if you give 'em a liiiittle extra punch ;p
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I think WAY too much attention is mistakenly focused on hitting hard. You don't see guitar players or any other instrument players focusing on how hard they attack their instruments. There are much more rewarding things to be concerned with, namely dynamics. Whenever anyone says "Oh I hit the drums really hard" I'm thinking, "even during a soft part? I hope not!"
It doesn't make you more musical, in fact it could very well have the opposite effect, if you're overdoing it. Too much of anything isn't good, everything has to be in balance. I used to be hung up on the same thing. I would think, "I'll impress everyone with how hard I can hit". What a stupid way to think. As soon as I started recording myself I was MORTIFIED at how ameteur, out of touch, unmusical, and misguided I was. I dropped that focus like a bad habit. Hey, if it's metal, than this probably doesn't apply, but for every other genre I can think of, focusing on hitting TOO hard is a fools game.
 

sqadan

Senior Member
Hitting hard, or harder than needed is counterproductive... a huge waste of energy. Your drums can only produce so much volume and after a point - they just won't get any louder.
 

Gremson

Junior Member
I agree that there is a tonal loss with hitting too hard, but I wouldn't say it's a complete waste.

Imagine you're playing a live show. You're hitting as hard as you can, but still keeping up with 2 Marshall stacks, and an Ampeg fridge. All of it's being put out through the house PA.

Do you think even half the audience will notice your drums don't sound as good?
I'm pretty sure most will notice the energy you're physically showing, the sweat dripping down your face, past the furious eyes of a cracked out madman.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
The "show" factor notwithstanding, in my mind, here's no valid sonic reason to hit as hard as you can when you're miced. I could care less how hard a person hits. I definitely don't want a limp handed drummer, but after a certain threshold of volume and confidence has been met, any extra is an unwise expenditure of resources IMO. It's the choice of beats and fills, the dynamics, execution and the musicality (or lack thereof) that really matter to me anyway, not how hard the drum is hit.

If I could make an analogy...

If a person is telling a story, it's the story I'm interested in. The words he chooses, the inflections in his voice, and the way he puts them all together determines how well he tells the story ...If the guy is yelling at the top of his lungs the whole time, WTF is that?
 

joeysnare

Silver Member
one thing i think people are missing is some of these drummers that hit hard might not be doing it of their own accord. i remember back when i first started out, trying to keep up with my guitarest id hit like i was trying to kill my drums because my technique sucked and i had to use brute force just to keep the speed up.
 

konaboy

Pioneer Member
one thing i think people are missing is some of these drummers that hit hard might not be doing it of their own accord. i remember back when i first started out, trying to keep up with my guitarest id hit like i was trying to kill my drums because my technique sucked and i had to use brute force just to keep the speed up.

And I can understand that however the guys I saw over the weekend doing it didn't lack technique or skill they were professional drummers. I don't know if they were hitting hard to try and look cool (only reason I could think of in a venue that holds 500 and there were maybe 200 there) but honestly it was distracting. I was actually excited to see one of the guys play because of what I've heard on recordings and I wasn't impressed live. Some of the really cool fills he's done on songs he completely didn't do and I would attribute it to his flailing. And yes he's the one who was playing on those recordings
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
If a person is telling a story, it's the story I'm interested in. The words he chooses, the inflections in his voice, and the way he puts them all together determines how well he tells the story ...If the guy is yelling at the top of his lungs the whole time, WTF is that?
A very angry story? :)

Captain Analogy strikes again ... keep 'em coming, Larry!

There is definitely a show factor. Remember when Nirvana's Teen Spirit vid was first released? Dave Grohl's thrashing was a buzz during the chorus ... especially in contrast with the laid back verses.

At my second gig a bikie gang ("bikers" in the US) took over the bar. This band always cranked up too much so the skinny girl behind the kit was forced to just about jump on the drums to be heard. People used to say I was a crackup to watch. During a break one of the bikies told me that he liked the way "I beat the shit" out of the kit :)

Who knows? Maybe that was the reason why those guys didn't beat the tripe out of anyone at the gig? (although one was taken to hospital after eating his beer glass - silly boy! They say you need to very carefully crunch it down to dust with your molars before swallowing!)

Funny how some really hard and loud rock seems to help the punters get their madness out while other loud music drives them crazy. Either way you can be sure some maniacal drummer is in the thick of it ... someone for whom the term "playing too hard" is a foreign concept :)
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
And another thing I'd like to address...And this is just me, if I was in a band where the others were turned up SO MUCH, I wouldn't even worry about trying to be heard. I wouldn't want to contribute to the already over the top volume. I'd still play it at the dynamic that the song requires, nothing more, nothing less. It doesn't matter to me if I can't be "heard", which is a misconception a lot of people have I think, you can usually ALWAYS hear the drums. As long as I am playing what the song requires, if the others are drowning me out, that's their ameteurness coming through, and I won't be a party to it. The louder I play, the louder they'll play. So I don't even play that game. I don't feel a need to make sure, no matter what the volume, I'm heard. If I'm not part of the solution, I'm part of the problem. In my mind, drumming isn't a "look at me" type scenario, it's more like what is the best feel to put in this number?
 

Funky Crêpe

Silver Member
I agree with the whole, " playing too loud, and hitting too hard thing"......but you must agree with me when i say that elvin jones was one of the best drummers to WATCH not mind hear, and it's because he really beat the crap out of his drums, but then again, most of the songs he does this on, it calls for it!:)
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
IDK I just watched some videos of Elvin and to me I don't consider him an over the top hard hitter. I've seen local guys hit 9 times as hard as Elvin.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
And another thing I'd like to address...And this is just me, if I was in a band where the others were turned up SO MUCH, I wouldn't even worry about trying to be heard. I wouldn't want to contribute to the already over the top volume
These days I wouldn't consider playing in a band with maniacs who cranked up to 11 but the gig I referred to was 1979 :)

That's the thing, an over-the-top band will choose an over-the-top drummer, and vice versa. Larry, the scenario you describe could only happen with fill ins.
 

Number Two

Junior Member
I never realized that this could be a topic that would produce this much discussion. However, this could be because I play timpani, among other concert percussion, more regularly than drum kit. You always want to find your tonal/resonant balance when playing pretty much anything. I guess that I never really thought much of this because it has always been a given for me. Looking back on it, though, it ties in well with the topic of stick/mallet choice.
 
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